Mid-Atlantic

January, 2010
Regional Report

Reapply Deer Repellent

Even if you applied deer repellent on or around your shrubs before winter, repeat the application now. And again in 3, 4 weeks; then again. By now, deer have foraged any and all green nibbles from woodlands, woodlots, forests, parks.... They're hungry. And will dine at your landscape's expense.

Use Critter-Proof Bird Feeders

There are excellent, spring-loaded bird feeders with seed ports that close when a heavy-weight squirrel lands to snack. The two feeders I have are designed similarly though their aesthetics differ. Both have two main parts: a clear plastic tube that holds seed and a movable, surrounding metal tube. The metal tube attaches to the top with springs. When weighted, it slides down to cover the plastic tube's seed outlets. Bam. Dinner's over! Better that your intended cardinals, nuthatches, finches, woodpeckers and winged beauties benefit from the nutritious seed -- than rascally pests.

Put Out Feelers for Spring Garden Helpers

I'm thinking most gardeners can use more helpers with physical prowess. Finding someone to help with garden chores can take time, flexible thinking, negotiation. Could that teen who knocked at your door to earn money shoveling snow be hired to haul mulch, remove debris, or pull weeds this spring? Is it worth $25 or $50 to jump start early garden chores with a helping hand? Maybe you can barter? Make extra meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, chili, corn bread for your helper to freeze for a few meals. No time like the present to explore options.

Adapt to Changing Indoor Plant Conditions

Most indoor plants die from too much water. On the other hand, the star-flower hydrangea I bought pre-Christmas is so rootbound, it wilts despite daily watering. Tender plants (gardenia, jasmine, geranium) you brought indoors last autumn have grown. Some (like my hydrangea) would benefit from being repotted in a larger container. Check for insects too -- under leaves, on stems, in the soil medium. Treat with least toxic pest control.

Sort and Recycle Garden Books

I'm collecting interactive horticulture DVDs and referencing horticultural and agricultural university and professional sites online more than ever. I love books. I don't part with them easily, especially good garden reference books and top-notch fiction. But I have too many. How 'bout you? Libraries, schools, friends, and educators can benefit from our bounty. An evening sorting out books you no longer want can be a windfall for a teacher planning spring science projects, the novices in your community garden group, or your library's book sale.

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