Protect Young Trees
Both fruit trees and ornamental trees planted this past year should be protected from rodent damage during the winter by loosely wrapping the trunk with fine-mesh hardware cloth. Place it from just below the soil line to above the snow line. It's also a good idea to paint the trunks white or use the white plastic spiral wrap around the trunk to protect the trees from sun scald this winter.
Use Wood Ashes Sparingly
Wood stoves and fireplaces produce an abundance of wood ashes that contain potassium, one of the ingredients in fertilizers. These ashes can be applied very lightly to garden area, but if used in excess, they will make the soil excessively alkaline and make some soil nutrients unavailable to plants. Apply no more than once every 2 or 3 years at a rate of 25 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Wood ashes can also be added to the compost pile.
Decorate a Tree for the Birds
Decorate an outdoor evergreen or deciduous tree for the birds. For the most people enjoyment, choose a tree that is readily visible from the house. This is a perfect project to do with kids, your own or borrowed. Drape the tree with garlands of popcorn, cranberries, peanuts in the shell, raisins, and bits of apple. Hang carrots, ears of miniature Indian corn, and pine cones smeared with peanut butter and suet.
Make Winter Potpourri and Pomanders
Combine sprigs of fir or spruce, winter berries, rose hips, small larch or spruce cones, seeds pods, and dried flowers with whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and an essential oil to make winter potpourri. Display in small bowls to scent rooms throughout the home or place in cellophane bags to give as gifts. The old-fashioned custom of making pomanders is another way to bring a spicy citrus scent to the holiday festivities.
Nurture Rosemary Trees
Rosemary plants, often pruned into a Christmas tree shape, are widely offered at this time of year. These are often quite potbound at the time of purchase, so repot them immediately. Place in bright light and let the soil dry out slightly in between watering. Rosemary is notoriously difficult to grow indoors, so if the plant only lives for a month or so, enjoy it while it lasts, using sprigs when making roasted potatoes.