Upper South

January, 2006
Regional Report

Recycle Christmas Trees

Live Christmas trees can be recycled for various uses. Some communities have a special curbside pickup for trees, which are then made into compost. If that is not available, consider cutting the branches off and laying them loosely over perennials for winter protection. Another possibility is to insert the tree in a bucket of sand and set it outside near bird feeders, where the birds can use it for shelter during the winter.

Provide Water for the Birds

January is usually the coldest month of the year, so it's important to keep bird feeders filled. Just as important is to provide a supply of fresh water. Small hanging trays are available that can easily be emptied of ice daily and refilled. There are also small heated birdbaths available, as well as heaters that can be placed in birdbaths. These are inexpensive to operate and will draw many more birds to your feeders.

Take a Seed Inventory

Before ordering seeds for this year's vegetable or flower garden, look over any seed from the previous year. Check germination by putting about ten seeds in a dampened and folded paper towel. Place in a plastic bag for several days, then check to see if the seeds have sprouted. If fewer than eight seeds germinate, consider purchasing new seed of that crop. If you have lots of that variety, another option is to plan on planting very thickly.

Caring for Cyclamen

Blooming cyclamen plants are often available for sale during the winter months. These can continue producing beautiful pink or white flowers for many months if kept in cool conditions with the soil evenly moist. If the foliage begins to collapse, this is probably due to low humidity or too warm a temperature. To increase humidity, set plants on a tray filled with pebbles that are kept constantly moist.

Have Trees Cut or Trimmed

Winter is usually a slower business period for arborists, so if you have trees or shrubs that need trimming or removal, this is a good time to have it done. For best results, it's important to hire a certified arborist who is fully insured. Get referrals from other gardeners, or check the yellow pages of your phone book under Arborist or Tree Service. These professionals also offer assistance with improving tree health.

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