New England

January, 2006
Regional Report

Leave the Ice

If your trees and shrubs become encased in ice, the best help you can give them is to leave them alone. If you knock a branch, it's likely to break from brittleness. Keep your fingers crossed and get out the camera to capture the glistening branches.

Treat Plants for Fungus Gnats

If you've noticed tiny black "fruit flies" in your house, it's possible your houseplants have fungus gnats. Though annoying when they flit about, the 1/8-inch-long adult insects are harmless. Their tiny, worm-like larva live in moist soil and also cause little or no damage to plants. To control them, allow soil to dry out between waterings, use sticky traps, or drench soil with a biological control, such as Gnatrol.

Protect Plants from 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. Or, alternatively, protect plants with a wrapping of burlap.

Take Cuttings of Geraniums

Geraniums that you brought indoors this winter are probably getting tall and leggy by now if they're not growing under artificial grow lights. Prune back errant branches and take 4- to 6-inch cuttings to root. Strip off the bottom set of leaves, dip the cut ends in rooting hormone powder, and stick the cuttings in a pot filled with moistened potting soil. Keep the soil moist, and they should root in a few weeks.

Check Stored Root Crops

Potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips, and other root crops that you have stored in your basement or root cellar should be checked regularly for signs of decay. Any vegetables that show any rotting should be removed and eaten (if possible) immediately so they don't spread the disease to other vegetables.

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