Northern & Central Midwest

January, 2009
Regional Report

Force Blooming Branches

Later in the month, selectively prune branches from flowering trees and shrubs to bring indoors to force. Cut branches with plump flower buds and bring them indoors to a warm tub of water. Immerse completely for 24 hours, and then re-cut the ends and put in a bucket in a cool spot out of sunlight.

Carefully Choose De-Icing Salt

Use potassium- or calcium-based de-icing products on walks and drives instead of sodium-based products. Shovel before using any de-icing product, and combine the material with sand for less environmental damage. During winter thaws, flush turf and garden areas adjacent to walks with water to leach away salts.

Watch for Rodent Damage to Trees

Keep an eye out for rodent damage on young trees. Voles and mice tend to damage fruit trees by nibbling on the bark in the lower 24 to 30 inches. If you see damage beginning, remove snow and surround the trunk with a cylinder of hardware cloth with 1/8-inch squares. White spiral plastic tree wrap can also be effective.

Water Houseplants Correctly

Review houseplant watering skills. Plants with large or thin leaves require more frequent watering. Large plants in small pots, plants in warm, dry, or sunny locations need more frequent watering. Water will evaporate more quickly from a clay pot than a plastic pot. Learn your plants' watering requirements.

Make a Suet Feeder

Make your own suet feeder. Trim beef fat from meat and finely chop. Heat until it liquefies. Strain, mix with bird seed and pour into muffin tins, baking pans, or any other container of choice and let cool. Hang in mesh bags from citrus or a suet feeder. Store extra in freezer.

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