New England

January, 2007
Regional Report

Clean Bird Feeders and Birdbaths

Birds deserve clean food surfaces as much as we do. Every few weeks bring the feeders inside and wash them with soap and water into which a little bleach has been added (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). Rinse thoroughly.

Keep Birdseed Out of the Garden

If you've noticed disease in the past on plants near your bird feeder, particularly if infected parts are covered with white fluffy growth, the problem could be a fungus that's contained in sunflowers seeds. In addition, sunflower seed hulls themselves can impede the growth of certain plants, so to be on the safe side, move your feeder away from your gardens. If that's not possible, periodically clean up any seeds and hulls around the base of the feeder and destroy them.

Pot Up Cuttings

If you have any cuttings taken from last summer's annuals, now's a good time to pot them up so they can expand their root systems in preparation for spring growth. Give them a loose potting medium and keep the soil just moist, not wet. Small root systems can't use much water, and roots will rot if they stay wet.

Patrol for Insects

Aphids and spider mites may be multiplying like crazy amidst your houseplants, especially if they are grouped close together. Isolate each plant and inspect it closely, with a magnifying glass if necessary. Treat these pests by holding the plant and pot upside down and submerging the foliage in a sink full of soapy water (wrap aluminum foil over the soil to keep it from falling out). In severe cases, spray the plant with insecticidal soap.

Trim Back Indoor Plants

If that geranium or bougainvillea you're overwintering inside has sent out spindly new shoots, keep trimming it back until the increased sunlight can support sturdier growth.

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