Prepare Houseplants to Bring Indoors
There are several steps to preparing your houseplants for winter indoors. You don't want them to bring insects, bugs, fungi, and diseases inside. Spray the leaves -- top and bottom -- with water to dislodge pests, the soak the pots in water beyond the rim. Soaking will bring some pests up and out of the soil. Spray leaves and stems and soil generously with a least-toxic insecticide such as soap and canola oil. Repeat every three days for two, three weeks before bringing indoors. Repeat treatments will kill emerging, immature pests. For persistent infestations, spray and/or drench with a stronger pesticide such as neem.
Sow Grass Seed
Does your lawn have disturbed, muddy, or grassless spots? Is there an area you want to see grass in next spring? We're in a cool spell -- good for grass germination. Sow lawn areas now. Be sure to water once a day until the seed sprouts, then every day or two while the tender seedlings are getting established.
Toss the Undesirables
House and garden plants that aren't thriving after a summer of sun won't do any better as winter approaches. Toss those that haven't held up well. Plants with insect or disease problems go in the trash. Added to a home compost pile, the pests and microbes they carry may live to re-infest next spring. Homemade compost may not be hot enough to kill the baddies.
Protect Young Trees
Erect tall structures -- with stakes and wire cloth or wire cages -- to protect young trees from deer rubbing the tender bark and eating the foliage. Leave the cage in place until the plant is well established and able to withstand some browsing or until it has grown above the browsing height (5-7').
Take Advantage of PA's Solar Energy Rebates
Pennsylvania homeowners and small business owners can take advantage of rebates for solar electric (solar photovoltaic, or PV) and solar hot water (solar thermal) projects. The Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Program provides $100 million in rebates. The program is authorized by section 306 of the Alternative Energy Investment Act, Act of July 9, 2008. Consumers must choose an installer off of the approved installer list. Installers will complete and submit the application on-line. For details, see