Upper South

January, 2010
Regional Report

Be Consistent with Feeding Birds

Maintaining a bird feeder near the house where it can be easily seen brings as much pleasure to us as it does nourishment for the birds. It's important to always keep food in whatever feeders you put out. Black oil sunflower seed is the best all-round food choice to put in your main feeder. Also consider a nyger seed feeder for finches and another feeder filled with shelled peanuts, which is especially favored by woodpeckers and nuthatches. Suet is important for most birds as well. White millet attracts ground-feeding birds.

Make a Terrarium

Whether for yourself or as a project with kids, making a terrarium is a good project for a winter's day when you're dreaming of tropical climates. Choose a glass container with a top and an opening wide enough to fit your hand. Put an inch or two of pea or aquarium gravel in the bottom, then sprinkle on a thin layer of activated charcoal. Top with 2 inches or so of moistened potting mix. Gently plant small houseplants into the soil, lightly mist, and replace the lid. Place in a bright spot but not in direct sunlight. Check weekly to see if plants need watering.

Look for Frost-Heaved Plants

The alternate periods of freezing and thawing our region experiences during the winter can result in plants -- especially perennials -- being heaved out of the ground. Take a periodic walk around the garden to see if this has occurred. If so, gently push the plant back into the ground (stomping can injure roots), then cover with a protective mulch of straw, salt hay, or evergreen branches.

Avoid Walking on the Lawn

Surprising to many people is that although lawns are dormant now and the ground is frozen, grass is particularly sensitive to being walked on. The result will be dead or damaged turf next spring. So avoid taking a short cut across the lawn. Or, if you find yourself doing that, put down stepping stones or make at least a mental note to yourself to add a walkway next spring.

Make Some Garden Ornaments

If your gardening season always seem frenetic, then take some time now to tackle some of those garden craft projects you've been putting off or always wanted to do. Mosaic stepping stones or a birdbath seem to be high on everyone's list. On a much simpler scale, try cutting silhouettes of birds, watering cans, trowels, or flowers from flashing, then cut a hole at the top and hang from a stiff piece of wire that can be inserted into the ground. Try decoupaging a box for storing seeds. Or, take an old piece of barn wood and personalize a sign for your garden.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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