New England

December, 2006
Regional Report

Be Gentle With Snowy Branches

Snowfalls can be tough on trees and shrubs by weighing down the branches. Gently brush off most of the snow with a broom or by hand. Don't use a shovel, which can injure the branches. If there's ice buildup, it's best to let it melt because it's easy to break off the brittle branches if you try to remove it.

Check Soil Before Watering

Even though houseplants benefit from an increase in indoor humidity, the reduced light causes slower growth, and some plants may even be in a period of dormancy. Take care not to overwater because many plants are more easily killed from too much water than too little. Feel the soil, and water only when it's dry an inch or two deep.

Keep Off the Grass

If Mother Nature hasn't blessed you with snow cover on your lawn, don't walk on the frozen grass. Without the protection of snow, grass blades are easily broken, causing dieback in your lawn that will show up next spring. Put up stakes to keep visitors on the path.

Using Last Year's Seeds

If you save seeds from year to year, do a germination test so you'll know if they will germinate well this year, or if you'll need to order new seeds. To do this, place 20 seeds between two sheets of moist paper towels and tuck into a loosely tied plastic bag. Place in a warm area, and check every few days. If germination is less than 80 percent, consider purchasing new seed of that crop.

Water Plants in Cold Storage

If you're overwintering potted perennials in a shed or basement, check to see if they need water. Even though they are dormant, the soil should be kept barely moist. Also check on potted bulbs that you're forcing and water if necessary.

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