Northern & Central Midwest

December, 2003
Regional Report

Clean Your Bird Feeders Even in Winter

Keep your birds healthy by cleaning and disinfecting feeders once or twice a month. After cleaning, immerse the empty feeder for two or three minutes in a solution of one part liquid chlorine household bleach and nine parts warm water. Allow the feeder to air dry.

Pick the Freshest Christmas Tree

A fresh Christmas tree will have a healthy green color with few browning needles. The needles should be flexible and not fall off if you run a branch through your hand. When dropped from a few inches off the ground, very few green needles should drop off the tree.

Push the Raspberry Harvest Season

The harvest of Heritage raspberry, a late-season variety, is often cut short by the first fall frost. Applying row covers may enhance earlier crop production. Apply them in March after pruning plants to the ground, and remove the covers in May. The response may vary somewhat from year to year.

Order Disease-Resistant Varieties

As seed catalogs come in, decide to choose only disease-resistant varieties next year. Also, keep in mind the sound cultural practices that also help to grow disease-free plants: crop rotation, enriching the soil with organic matter, using raised beds, discarding diseased plants, and removing plant debris at the end of the season.

Vacuum Up Those Nuisance Pests

It is common to find insects coming into the house looking for a place to rest for the winter. Common nuisance pests are boxelder bugs, houseflies, squash bugs, and the multicolored Asian ladybugs. The best control is to vacuum them up. Try not to smash them since some leave stains or odors.

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