Mid-Atlantic

December, 2005
Regional Report

Clean Up Sunflower Hulls

Sunflower hulls are messy and can inhibit future plant growth where they fall to the ground. Avoid this problem by using prehulled seed, or locate the feeder over a paved area to make clean up easy. Another option is to place an old window screen beneath the feeder where it will catch the hulls; remember to empty it often.

Brush Off Snow

Heavy, wet snow can cause evergreens, such as arborvitaes, to splay open and possibly break apart. To avoid damage, gently brush away the snow with your arm or a broom before it accumulates and weighs down the branches. As a preventive measure, you can wrap the evergreens lightly with twine to keep the branches in place and prevent the snow from catching inside the shrub.

Tend Windowsill Herbs

The short days of the winter season take their toll on sun-loving herbs, such as basil, thyme, and parsley. Consider moving them to a brighter spot or adding supplemental lighting if they are leaning sharply toward the window for more sunlight. Also be careful not to overfertilize or overwater them during this period of slower growth.

Clean Houseplants

Over time houseplants collect dust, which blocks light and thus limits photosynthesis. Foliage can be cleaned by dusting with a soft paintbrush, gently wiping with a damp cloth, rinsing in tepid water under the kitchen sink, or spraying with a plant mister. Bigger plants can be set in the household shower (use a gentle, tepid flow) for a rain-like rinse.

Spray Fruit Trees

Contact your county Extension office or otherwise research the most appropriate annual spray program for your fruit trees using current integrated pest management (IPM) methods. Spray regimes can vary widely depending on the varieties you grow, the weather each year, and the prevalence of pests and disease in your local area. Preventive dormant spray regimes can begin very early in the year with limited time windows for application, so check now and be prepared.

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