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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

10 Tips for the May Gardener

green tomato

  1. Plant tomatoes, peppers and melons after the danger of frost is past and the soil temperature is 65° F, usually the last week in May. Plant tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant in different locations each year to reduce insect and disease problems.
  1. Keep mower blades sharp and set your mower height at 2-3 inches. Remove no more than one-third of the total height per mowing and mulch to return nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil.
  1. Hummingbirds and orioles return to northern states by mid-May. Clean and refill feeders to attract these colorful birds to your backyard. Hummingbirds are attracted to flowers with trumpet-shaped blooms such as columbine, salvia, and fuchsia.
  1. Start to monitor lilies for red lily leaf beetles. Check the underside of leaves for the clusters of tiny orange eggs and remove. Spray with neem every 5-7 days to kill larvae and adults or handpick and destroy.
  1. Remove any sucker growths from fruit trees as soon as they appear.
  1. Plant dahlias, gladioli, cannas and other summer flowering bulbs. Put hoops and stakes in place for floppy plants while they are still small.
  1. Ground covers such as vinca, ajuga, pachysandra, creeping foamflowers, lamium, and ivy can be divided and transplanted now to create new beds or enlarge existing ones.
  1. When transplanting annuals and vegetables, be gentle with the root ball. These plants have small root masses that are easily damaged.
  1. Weed around the bases of trees and shrubs and apply a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch but do not place it directly against the trunk.
  1. Lay soaker hoses in flower and shrub gardens.

For more information, please contact the UConn Home and Garden Education Center, or call 877-486-6271.

10 Tips for the April Gardener

  1. Continue to apply horticultural oil sprays to control insect pests on fruit trees if temperature is over 40°F.pansies
  1. Sow peas, carrots, radishes, lettuces, and spinach. Plant seedlings of cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli, weather permitting.
  1. For an instant spring show, fill containers with forced spring bulbs from supermarkets and garden centers.
  1. Prune back bedraggled looking ground covers and fertilize lightly after April 15.
  1. Check fruit trees for tent caterpillars; they emerge around the same time as leaves sprout. Blast nests with a strong spray of water to destroy them.
  1. Remove any remaining last year’s leaves from roses and spread a thin layer of new mulch underneath them to control diseases that may have over-wintered.
  1. Divide overcrowded summer or fall blooming perennials. Check for insects such as the iris borer and discard any pest or disease ridden plants.
  1. Place seedlings in cold frames around April 25 or later to harden off before transplanting.
  1. Prune ornamental grasses and sedums to a height between 6 and 12 inches before new growth starts.
  1. Sow cool-weather edible greens and lettuces in window boxes or shallow containers that can be brought inside if temperatures dip below freezing.

For more information please contact the UConn Home & Garden Education Center at ladybug@uconn.edu.

10 Tips for the March Gardener

  1. Make plans to attend the UConn Garden Conference on March 18, 2016.garden 2016 logo
  1. Carefully remove winter mulches and leftover debris from planting beds to reduce the presence of overwintering diseases and pests.
  1. Get your soil tested through the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory before any major planting or fertilizing venture. Soils sent in before April 1 will avoid the spring rush.
  1. Add limestone as recommended and, if possible, incorporate into planting beds but don’t fertilize yet. Wait until mid-April.
  1. As ground becomes workable, de-thatch the lawn if you find an inch or more of thatch; seed any bare spots. Get the lawn mower serviced, have the blades sharpened.
  1. Seeds of annual flowers and vegetables that require 10-12 weeks of growth before transplanting can be sown indoors now.
  1. Plant seeds of cold weather vegetables like spinach, peas, lettuce and broccoli as soon as soil is workable.
  1. Before new shoots emerge, cut back last year’s stalks on perennials and grasses.
  1. Horticultural oil treatments for maple bladder gall mite, spider mites on evergreens and scale on shrubs and trees can be applied; check labels for specifics on appropriate weather conditions.
  1. Eliminate any hard to mow areas such as acute angles in beds and borders. Combine single trees or shrubs into a large planting connected with ground cover. Put the birdbath in a flowerbed or surround it with ground cover.

For more information visit the UConn Home and Garden Education Center or call 866-486-6271.

Cut Food Budgets – Grow a Kitchen Garden

By       Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH, RD

            UConn Extension Educator/Food Safety

Though some economic indicators are showing that things are getting better, there are many Connecticut citizens who still find tough going. The result has been that more and more people are growing food in their backyards or on patios, and some are growing enough to need to know how to freeze and can the fruits and vegetables for storage into the winter. It is likely that the home vegetable gardening trend will continue until there is a change in our collective jitters about the stock market or the fact that raises are few and far between.

green tomatoWhen budgets are tight, we often are forced to make diet changes that might not be in our health’s best interest. One study, in the November 2007 Journal of the American Dietetic Association, showed that limited resource families would need to spend up to 70% of their food budget on fruits and vegetables in order to meet USDA Dietary Guidelines recommendations. So, it stands to reason that when things get tough, folks are likely to make other, less costly, food choices. A study appearing in the Journal of Nutrition indicated that a population of French adults, when confronted with cost constraints, would be most likely to limit purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables (along with meat and dairy foods).

So, if you can’t afford to buy fresh tomatoes from the market, why not think about growing some in your back yard?

Americans have a history of using kitchen gardens to feed their families better when times are tough. During the Second World War, the presence of backyard kitchen gardens or “Victory Gardens” emerged as Americans did what they could to help with the War effort. At the time, these gardens provided over 40% of the fresh produce eaten in this country. That meant commercial production could be devoted to supplying our troops here and overseas.

How can you plan and grow a kitchen garden that contributes significantly to reducing your food budget? First, you need to do some planning.

When choosing a place for your garden, keep in mind that fruits and vegetables need a lot of sun to grow and good drainage. Of course, the ideal place for a kitchen garden is just outside of the kitchen door. Convenience makes it user-friendly. If you do not have a sunny garden space, try planting a container garden on a sunny deck or patio. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, small lettuces, and, of course, herbs, can do very well in well-drained containers. Check with the UConn Home and Garden Education Center or your local Master Gardener for help in choosing varieties suitable to container gardening.

It is best to start small. Remember that anything you grow and do not eat within a few days will need to be preserved. When times are tight, being wasteful makes no sense. Canning and freezing take time and is usually done during the hottest months of the year. Most would agree the effort is worth it, but it might be wise to get into this one baby step at a time. Once you figure out what you can grow, use, give away or preserve in a timely fashion, you may choose to increase your garden size.

What to Grow

It might seem obvious that a kitchen garden includes primarily fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you commonly use in your kitchen. Planting a bunch of Brussels sprouts so that it will be available for the fall and winter table makes no sense if the family can’t get the sometimes odiferous cruciferous past their collective noses.

Consider growing fruits and vegetables that can contribute the most to the quality of your diet. Some of the most “good for you” fruits and vegetables can be grown easily in a Connecticut garden. Try growing cantaloupe or watermelon, strawberries, or blueberries. These can all be expensive when buying them in your supermarket. If you have room, you can get several pounds of raspberries from each plant you put in the ground. Think about that when you pick up a half-pint costing upwards of four dollars in the market.

Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collard greens and romaine lettuce are easy to grow. When it comes to greens, darker is always the best nutritional choice. Choose romaine, spinach or other dark leafy greens over iceberg or leaf lettuce if your garden space is limited.

Yes, market tomatoes can be expensive—especially if you want them to be organic, or of the heirloom variety. But consider this: one packet of seed can yield up to 30 plants. And each plant can produce more than 25 pounds of tomatoes. It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that it is cheaper to grow the things than to buy them. Finally, choose carrots, green or red peppers, winter squash or pumpkin. All of these pack a healthy punch and will be a great addition to your kitchen garden.

Herbs are a good choice if you want to add wonderful flavor to foods without adding salt or sugar. Basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme are must-haves. A small pot of oregano will produce more than enough fresh herb for the summer. You can bring potted herbs indoors and continue to grow them all year long if you choose to. You may never have to spend a fortune on little cans of the dried stuff ever again.

Finally, be sure to develop a garden plan that includes early season choices (peas, salad greens), mid-season (berries, green beans) and later season produce (winter squash, Brussels sprouts). This will help to insure that you have something fresh at your table from spring until winter.

Keep your vegetable gardening budget friendly with some of these additional tips:

  • Start and maintain a compost pile—a future of free fertilizer
  • Start plants from seed or purchase the smallest plants available from your garden store
  • Save seed from this year’s crop to use next year—free seeds!
  • Trade and share excess produce or seeds with other gardeners or neighbors
  • When you need help, get information or advice from the UConn Home and Garden Education Center or your local library—free help!

Once your kitchen garden is established, your produce section is just outside your door and you will have easy access to fresh garden tomatoes or blueberries. For more information about growing a kitchen garden, contact the UConn Home and Garden Education Center at ladybug@uconn.edu or 1-877-486-6271.

Volunteer Spotlight: Marcia Johnson

Teacher and 4-H Volunteer Brings Gardening, Nutrition and Fitness to Students in the Classroom and Beyond

By Kim Markesich

Originally published by Naturally@UConn on January 26, 2016

 

students in garden

Nathan Hale students care for a garden bed.

Twenty-eight years as an elementary school teacher has not dampened the enthusiasm of 4-H volunteer Marcia Johnson. She’s upbeat, energetic and clearly excited about teaching. Five years ago, Johnson created a school gardening program for her students at John Barry Elementary School in Meriden. When Johnson took a position at Meriden’s Nathan Hale School, she created the 4-H Environmental Education and Garden Club. She says, “I love the 4-H curriculum, and the kids really enjoy it.” In 2013, Johnson brought the Junior Master Gardener curriculum to her program, and a year later, she decided to complete the 4-H volunteer training so she might bring 4-H to students in her after-school and summer clubs. This year, thirty students joined the club from grades three, four and five. High school students volunteer to assist with the program.

“I am by no means a gardening expert,”  says Johnson. “I am learning along with the kids. For two years before we planted our first seed, I collected information on gardening curriculum at every grade level. I’m always searching online for gardening ideas. I would love to take the Master Gardener Program at UConn.” The students planted eight raised beds filled with strawberries, eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash, basil and green beans, in addition to a few annual flowers chosen to attract pollinators. Johnson added a hydroponic tower to house a lettuce crop. She uses the harvested produce to teach the children healthy cooking and food preparation. Students are able to take produce home as well.

Umekia Taylor, associate extension educator with UConn Extension, was so impressed with Johnson’s program, she awarded the school a 4-H CT FANsIM mini grant that provided raised bed kits, curriculum materials and tools, as well as programming assistance. Over the summer, two 4-H CT FANsIM staff spent two days a week with Johnson’s students, providing fun activities that focused on gardening, nutrition and fitness. Cheyanne Stone, a former teen mentor and student at Green Mountain College in Vermont, worked as a 4-H leader and CT Fans IM public service specialist. Shawn Mogensen is a 4-H CT FANsIM graduate assistant from the College’s Department of Nutritional Sciences. “I can’t get over how fascinated the kids are to see things grow from a seed,” Johnson says. “We live in such a technological society where kids go to a restaurant and food suddenly appears. We rarely take the time anymore to teach children about nature.”

Marcia and group

Left to right: Donald Downes vice-chairman, Eastern States CT Corporators; Marcia Johnson; Jo-Ann Hall, parent of a former Nathan Hale student; Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO, Eastern States Corp.

Johnson is continually looking for new club activities to provide experiential learning for her students. She brought in chicken eggs to incubate in the classroom. After the eggs hatched, Johnson taught the students about caring for the chickens, and it was decided that the thirteen chickens would be given to local farmers with the knowledge and resources to raise them.

Kathy Olsen, a retired teacher from Meriden, now known as the Bee Lady, visited the students and spoke about bees and set up a honey tasting. Students were given bread sticks to dip in various types of honey. Johnson likes to involve parents in the club as well and brought Olsen in for a parent seminar.

In addition to Olsen, Connecticut registered beekeeper Robert Gavel, of Meriden, visited the club with an observation hive. “He teaches them everything from A to Z about keeping bees and the importance of bees,” she says.

Johnson never tires of working with her students. “It’s the best part of my day. The kids just love it and they never want to go home.”

Johnson received the 2013 and 2014 Connecticut AgriScience Award sponsored by the Connecticut Corporators to the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E).

She is also the recipient of the American Farm Bureau’s White Reinhardt Award and received a grant from the Connecticut Agricultural Education Foundation.

Teen Mentors Attend National 4-H Congress

4-H Congress group

Photo caption:  Top Row: Kirsten Krause, Alea Pettengill, Susan Dearborn and Paul Rouleau. Bottom Row: Victoria Footit, Jessica Roberts, Ciara Broggy, Yanis Aracena

CT 4-H FANs IM Teen Mentors, and Danbury High School seniors, Ciara Broggy and Yanis Aracena, were selected to participate in the National 4-H Congress held in Atlanta, Georgia, November 27th through December 1, 2015. Both attendees were required to submit an application and attend an interview. While at the National 4-H Congress, they enjoyed many activities including lectures, a dinner dance, interactive workshops, a tour of the Atlanta History Center and Atlanta Aquarium, as well as collaborative projects with other 4-H participants that included community outreach.

Both students found the event to be life changing. “My experience at National 4-H Congress has allowed me to gain a better understanding of cultural diversity,” Ciara says. “Throughout the week I had the chance to meet and talk with other 4-Hers from throughout the United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. I discovered that my focus on fitness, nutrition and gardening is very different from that of other 4-H participants. For example, I met 4-Hers who, participate in singing competitions, cattle showings and gymnastics. Despite these differences, we all still share a central bond within our 4-H community.”

Ciara and Yanis joined CT FANs IM as Teen Mentors at Shelter Rock Elementary School. They work with younger students in activities centered on fitness, nutrition and gardening.

“This opportunity has not only been a learning experience for the youth, but also myself,” Ciara says. “I have developed a deeper understanding about what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. The three branches of my 4-H program have become a part of my every day life. I strive to live a healthier lifestyle both physically and nutritionally. In addition, my leadership and speaking skills have increased dramatically through working with the youth. This has been a truly gratifying experience and has contributed largely to my self-confidence. I look forward to expanding my involvement in 4-H.”

Yanis agrees that her experience as a Teen Mentor has been an extremely valuable experience. “Working with CT FANs IM has helped me develop skills I did not have or was not confident in,” she says. “I feel much more confident with being able to speak in front of an audience, I have learned to enjoy working in a group, rather than by myself, and lastly I have gained valuable leadership skills. I hope to continue my involvement in 4-H.”

The students both plan to attend college. Ciara hopes to be accepted into UConn’s nursing program for the fall 2016 semester, while Yanis has not yet chosen a major, and is considering several colleges.

10 Tips for the January Gardener

house sparrow

 

  1. 2015 was a banner year for gypsy moth caterpillars in Connecticut. Check for tan gypsy moth egg masses on tree trunks and branches, scrape or brush off and destroy.
  2. When you are finished with holiday evergreen boughs, use them to mulch tender perennials and shrubs.
  3. Inspect stored bulbs, tubers and corms for rot or infestation. Discard those showing signs of decay or insect damage.
  4. Review garden catalogs for new vegetable varieties to try. Consider varieties with improved insect and/or disease resistance and drought-tolerant types.
  5. Winter is a good time to sign up for gardening classes or seminars offered by many garden centers, town recreation offices, or the UConn Master Gardener Program.
  6. Feed the birds regularly and see that they have water. Birds like suet, fruit, nuts and breadcrumbs as well as birdseed.
  7. Protect your young fruit trees from hungry mice that can chew the bark off at the soil line. Keep mulch several inches from trunks to keep the mice from hiding under it or consider putting wire-screen mouse guards around the trunks of the trees.
  8. When using salt to melt ice on walks and driveways, spread it carefully to avoid damage to nearby shrubs. Consider using sand or sawdust instead.
  9. Houseplants also will benefit from fertilizer applications once or twice this winter.
  10. Seasonal decorations of poinsettia or cyclamen will continue to bloom with proper care. Keep the soil moist but remove foil wrapping to allow the water to drain out. Place your plant in a cool (60 to 65 degrees F) location that gets plenty of light.

For more information, please visit the UConn Home & Garden Education Center or call 1-877-486-6271.

 

Year of the Pulse…As in Legume Seeds

By Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH, RD

Senior Extension Educator, Food Safety

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations will conduct a variety of activities in support of this focus on a food product that is nutritious and sustainable. According to information on the web site, www.fao.org/pulses-2016, the objectives of IYP are to:

  • Raise awareness about the important role of pulses in sustainable food production and healthy diets and their contribution to food security and nutrition;
  • Promote the value and utilization of pulses throughout the food system, their benefits for soil fertility and climate change and for combating malnutrition;
  • Encourage connections throughout the food chain to further global production of pulses, foster enhanced research, better utilize crop rotations and address the challenges in the trade of pulses.

So what exactly are pulses?

lentil seeds

Red, yellow and green lentils. Photo: Wikimedia

Pulses are the edible seeds of legumes. Legumes are members of the botanical family Papilionaceae within the family of Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), the third largest family in the plant kingdom. You are probably most familiar with dry peas and beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and fava beans. Peanuts are also legumes. Generally, “pulses” refer to the dry seeds or grains produced by the legume plants: they do not include peas or beans eaten green or soybeans used for oil production.

Cuisines from all over the world rely on pulses as a source of high protein nutrition. In Kenya a family may sit down to a traditional meal of Githeri or Mutheri, a boiled mixture of maize and beans; in India, it may be Dal, a soup like dish made from lentils or a chickpea curry also known as chole or chana masala; baked fava beans from Greece or falafel or hummus from any number of middle eastern countries, made traditionally from chickpeas are all examples of how these legumes are a critical part of the world’s food basket.

In addition to being rich in protein, these foods are low in fat and are a great source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is one of two types of dietary fiber-the other is the insoluble form that is found in wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains. Soluble fiber attracts water and forms a gel. It slows digestion and has been associated with reducing the risk for heart disease, lowering blood cholesterol and helping to control blood sugar. According to the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, legumes contain “three times as much iron as meat, two times as much magnesium as rice, and four to five times as much potassium as meat.”

And, diets rich in these plant proteins are also contributing to a more sustainable food system. Cultivation of pulses is less dependent on fertilizers and fossil fuels because the plants are able to “fix” or get nitrogen from the atmosphere. This helps with soil fertility and long-term productivity of farmland. They are also drought tolerant.

Grow your own

So, why not try growing lentils, chick peas, fava beans or soybeans in your home garden? They can be relatively easy to grow. The difficult part may be finding seeds. Several online blogs and forums have participants who have had success with purchasing dry lentils and chickpeas in the grocery store and planting them. Some seed companies have “sprouting seeds” that you could try. And others do have seeds for growing soybeans, lentils and dry beans. Search through the seed catalogs or online.

Most legume crops like cooler growing areas and are somewhat drought tolerant. They do not like a rainy growing season. Lentils are more tolerant of frost than other legumes so may be planted earlier. If you grow these crops for several seasons, practice crop rotation to minimize disease. There are several Extension publications that you may refer to online. Try searching for “Growing Dry Beans: A Vermont Tradition” by Winston Way or “Growing Lentils in Montana” by Cash, Lockerman, Bowman and Welty.

The growing season is over and harvest begins when pods are dry and begin to crack open. Try to harvest after a dry period. If rain interferes, pull up the plants and hang until dry. Remove the seeds/beans from the pods and allow to dry at room temperature for a few weeks before storage. Sort through the beans and remove any that look shriveled or moldy. If you are concerned about the presence of any bugs, you may freeze your dry beans in an airtight freezer container. Otherwise, store in an airtight container (glass canning jars are good) in a cool, dark location.

But, remember, that if you would rather devote your garden space to fresh vegetables, herbs or berries, pulses are readily available at very low cost in any grocery store. Some of the more exotic options such as red lentils or fava beans may be found in stores that specialize in international cuisines. But why not try growing them just once?

For more information on growing, storing and cooking with pulses, contact the UConn Home and Garden Education Center at ladybug@uconn.edu or 1-877-486-6271.

Warm December Weather May Spell Trouble for Plants

By Dawn Pettinelli, UConn Home & Garden Education Center

 

pansies

Photo: Dawn Pettinelli

Usually this time of year the UConn Home & Garden Education Center is flooded with calls about the care of holiday plants. Not so this year. Instead many of the calls have been about the unusual plant behavior Connecticut residents are noticing in their gardens and landscapes. Why are my PJM rhododendrons blooming? What will happen to my bulbs that I planted in September as the foliage is starting to emerge from the ground? Should I be worried that my Johnny Jump-ups as well as the dandelions in my lawn are blooming? How about those magnolia buds – they are getting pumper so will this warm spell affect their usual spring bloom? My garlic bulbs are beginning to grow so should I do something?

The bottom line is, of course, Mother Nature rules. There is not a whole lot we can do about the vagrancies of the weather. We had an unusually mild December with Christmas Eve feeling more like an early autumn day than a winter one with temperatures in the northeast somewhere between 15 to 30 degrees F above normal. In many places the December temperature records were broken. What does this mean for our plants?

Despite the fact that dandelions, Johnny-Jump-ups and sweet alyssum are still blooming in lawns and gardens, there is no need worry about them. Many residents would be pleased if dandelions were thwarted by winter cold but do consider the pollinators that depend on them and go on to fertilize our food plants. Fluctuating temperatures will not harm dandelions, chickweed or other perennial weeds. Unfortunately they will just use the mild days to continue to grow. Cold hardy annuals like sweet alyssum, calendula and snapdragons may get killed over the winter or sometimes hang on especially if a nice snow cover materializes.

The foliage of spring flowering bulbs, like daffodils, is beginning to emerge from the ground especially in more sheltered areas. Since the energy needed for flowering this spring is stored in the bulb rather than dependent on the foliage, any damage to the early emerging leaf tips will not affect this year’s blooms. Those with live Christmas trees may want to lay the branches over bulb or perennial beds to serve as a winter mulch.

On my way to Boston a couple of weeks ago, I noticed cherry trees blooming. On the UConn Storrs campus a few of the rhododendrons are sporadically blooming. What I haven’t noticed is our native trees and shrubs breaking dormancy. These have evolved over thousands of years with our regional climate variations according to Dr. Carol Auer, UConn plant physiologist. So likely they are less prone to responding to unseasonable warm weather as opposed to non-native ornamentals that have not had this adaptive opportunity.

UConn Associate Plant Science & LA professor Dr. Jessica Lubell reminds us that “Plants go into dormancy in the fall and break dormancy following exposure to temperatures of 32 to 45. Different species have different requirements for hours if chilling. Those requiring less chilling hours may begin partial bud break in warm periods like this. Generally plants such as these may receive slight damage to some shoots, but will likely be fine.”

Dormancy in woody plants is first triggered each fall by the declining hours of daylight. Deciduous plants will shed their leaves. Just as important are chemical changes in the cells in wood and bark. These occur in response to a decrease in temperatures. Cells lose some of their water to improve their freeze resistance. Then the fats and proteins in the plant change into forms that can survive the freezing winter temperatures. The plant in a sense makes its own internal antifreeze.

In order to achieve maximum cold hardiness the woody plants need to be exposed to a gradual consistent drop in temperatures ending with several days of cold, subfreezing temperatures and in most of the state, this has not yet happened.

On top of that, temperatures above 60 degrees F may have a negative effect on a plant’s chilling requirements. So the $64,000 question as far as the survival of our woody plants over the winter will be what does the forthcoming weather hold in store for them? A rapid, steep drop in temperatures may spell trouble for some. We’ll just have to wait until spring to find out.

If you have questions about the strange behavior of your plants this winter or queries on any other home and garden topic, contact the UConn Home & Garden Education at (877) 486-6271 or ladybug@uconn.edu, or your local UConn Extension Center.

10 Tips for the December Gardener

Amaryllis Bulbs

Amaryllis Bulbs. Photo: LSU Ag Research Center

  1. Check for spider mites on houseplants by misting plants. If mites are present you will see water droplets clinging to the mite’s webbing. Control them by misting daily to keep humidity high after giving them a thorough drenching in the sink.
  2. Store your opened bags of fertilizer in a sealed plastic bag or plastic waterproof container with a snugly fitting lid in a dry location to avoid caking.
  3. Check fruits, vegetables, corms and tubers that you have in storage. Sort out any that show signs of disease and dispose of them.
  4. Tap evergreen branches gently to remove snow and prevent the branches from breaking. If ice forms on tree and shrub branches, don’t try to break it off – you’ll risk breaking branches. It’s best to let the ice melt naturally.
  5. Amaryllis bulbs may be started now. If they are established bulbs in old pots, two inches of soil should be removed from the surface and replaced with new potting mix.
  6. If you have a real Christmas tree, recycle it after the holidays are through. Cut off branches and use them as insulation over perennials. In spring, chip or shred branches to create mulch or add to the compost pile.
  7. Continue to harvest Brussels sprouts. They’ll typically keep even when buried in snow drifts.
  8. Don’t walk on frozen grass, especially if there is no snow cover. Without the protection of snow, grass blades are easily broken causing die-back in your lawn.
  9. Drain the fuel tanks of the lawn mower and any other gas-powered lawn tools. Check the belt and spark plugs, change the oil and sharpen the blades.
  10. Avoid using sodium salts or fertilizers to melt ice on driveways or walks. When possible use sand or kitty litter. This will help prevent salt damage to plant roots.

 

For more information contact the UConn Home & Garden Education Center at 877-486-6271 or ladybug@uconn.edu