New England

January, 2005
Regional Report

Avoid Damaging Plants with a Snowblower

When you are clearing your driveway with a snowblower this winter, direct the snow away from plants. Otherwise, the blowing ice crystals may damage the tender bark of young trees and shrubs. This isn't as much of a concern for plants wrapped with burlap.

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Start making your master list of varieties you'd like to grow next summer, then winnow the list down to a manageable size. Get your orders in as soon as possible so you don't miss out on choice seeds that are in short supply.

Inventory Seed-Starting Supplies

Now is a good time to take inventory of your supplies for seed starting. Check quantities of potting soil, containers, labels, etc. Sterilize any used containers with a 10 percent bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water).

Control Fungus Gnats

If you\'ve noticed tiny black flies that look like fruit flies around your indoor plants, they are probably fungus gnats. Though annoying when they flit about, the 1/8-inch-long adult insects are harmless. Their tiny, worm-like larvae feed on organic matter in moist soil, which can include plant roots. To control them, allow the soil to dry out between waterings, use sticky traps, or drench soil with a biological control, such as Gnatrol.

Recycle Holiday Greens in the Garden

When you\'re finished with holiday evergreen boughs, use them to mulch tender perennials and shrubs. They make a lightweight but insulating layer that helps protect plants from alternating temperatures like our typical January thaw followed by a deep freeze.

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