Northern & Central Midwest

December, 2006
Regional Report

Prune Brambles

Prune out dead raspberry and blackberry canes that fruited this summer. In order to keep viruses at bay, prune fall-fruiting raspberries such as 'Heritage' to the ground. They will produce a sizeable late-summer, early-fall crop next year, and you will avoid the problems with overwintering fungi and viruses.

Cover Strawberries for Early Growth

Consider covering strawberries with a floating row cover to help prevent winter injury and promote early growth in the spring. Be sure to remove the cover as soon as the last frost has occurred, and on warm days pull it back to let in the sun. Also, watch carefully for rodent damage.

Prune Fruits

Fruits can be pruned any time between November and March, although it's time-effective to wait until late winter to assess the full effects of winter weather. Fireblight damage on apples and pears should be pruned out during the coldest periods in December or January to lessen the spread.

Cover Fall Greens for Early Eating

Beets, spinach, lettuce, broccoli raab, and other cool-season greens that have germinated in the fall garden should be protected with a cold frame, plastic sheeting, or floating row cover. Be sure to vent your cold frame or plastic cover on sunny days to prevent heat build-up.

Keep Herbs in Strong Light

Herbs brought indoors for fall and winter should be located where they will receive strong direct sunlight. Supplemental fluorescent light may be necessary, as well. Keep lights on for 14 to 16 hours each day. Keep herb plants away from drafts and heat sources, and provide humidity with pebble trays under the pots.

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