Mid-Atlantic

December, 2010
Regional Report

Enjoy Holiday House Tours

This can be an opportunity to see new indoor and outdoor holiday decorating ideas - contemporary, historic, whimsical! Visit homes you might not otherwise tour, meet design professionals, and share ideas. Taking a Holiday House Tour with friends can be inspiring, an annual tradition you all look forward to. Proceeds often benefit community groups or charities.

Recheck Plants You Brought Indoors

Yes, you inspected and removed or treated insects, insect casings, scale, woolly masses, and eggs BEFORE bringing plants indoors several weeks ago. Look again now for any that escaped the first scrutiny. Household warmth will have encouraged survivors to emerge. Before the holiday whirlwind, treat or remove plant pests. Check again in early January then every three, four weeks through winter. Fungus gnats, white fly, aphids, and scale can establish themselves quickly. Use a Bt soil drench to eradicate fungus gnats. Start with the least toxic control for leaf/stems pests and apply frequently according to directions.

Plant Mums after Flowers Die

Pinched, mounded mums bring bright, inexpensive fall color - yellow, gold, purple, lavender, rose, orange, copper and more. The flowers don't last too long though. Plants are often root-bound and dry out easily. Don't despair after the flowers succumb. Deadhead, then plant the mums in a garden spot where they can spread-- which they will. To keep plants from getting too large next autumn, pinch or clip branches back starting in spring.

Winter Prep Fragile Containers

Terra cotta, glazed pottery, even cement and stone containers can be damaged in winter's freeze-thaw weather. Remove plants and soil to recycle in the compost. Rinse well to clean. Dry thoroughly. Store upside down, protected from the elements, in a shed, garage or basement.

Start a New Compost Pile

Empty the compost bin of rich, humus-like material. Spread compost that has decomposed through the summer on vegetable and perennial beds, autumn transplants, divisions and new bulb planting areas. Leave about 6 inches in the bin as a "starter" for a new compost pile. Begin anew by mixing in some brown autumn leaves for aeration and grass from the last mowing. Toss in vegetable and fruit scraps that accumulate through winter. And more leaves when the pile gets too dense.

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