Northern & Central Midwest

January, 2008
Regional Report

Groom Indoor Plants

Clean leaves to remove dust and grease that can clog leaf pores. Hand dust large-leaved plants with a pair of old socks or gloves on both hands. Put plants in the shower if hand washing is not possible. To keep soil from washing away, cover it with foil, newspaper, or plastic.

Use Salt Sparingly on Walks

Try to plow or shovel before resorting to salt. If you must use salt, mix it with sand to reduce the amount of salt applied. Choose calcium chloride, if possible, since it is much less damaging to plants than the cheaper sodium chloride.

Feed the Birds Suet

Trim the fat from roasts or steaks before cooking, or ask at the meat counter of your grocery store for fat trimmings. Slice it into strips and small pieces or grind it. Fill the suet feeder with this high-energy food with lots of calories that birds need. Keep excess fat frozen until it's needed for refills.

Keep African Violets in Top Shape

African violets should be kept evenly moist, not soggy, and watered from below since water on the leaves can cause leaf spots. Use lukewarm water that has not been softened. Keep plants at about 72 degrees F, give them bright but indirect light, and fertilize regularly.

Check for Eastern Tent Caterpillars

This is the month to check host plants for overwintering Eastern tent caterpillar egg cases. Check crab apple, apple, hawthorn, mountain ash, flowering cherry, and other members of the rose family for signs of dark, iridescent egg cases encircling small twigs.

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