Northern & Central Midwest

December, 2010
Regional Report

Rotate Vegetables

As you start planning your vegetable garden, keep in mind the importance of rotation. Draw a plan on paper and decide where to put your veggies. Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers have specific problems with soil-borne diseases, so you want to plant them in different spots each year.

Homemade Suet

Make homemade suet for your birds. Melt lard, suet or shortening over low heat, add peanut butter, cracked corn, shelled peanuts, oats, raisins, etc. Pour into bread loaf pan to harden. When solid, cut to fit your suet feeder. Store unused suet in refrigerator. The birds will love you!

Re-Wet Potting Soil

If houseplant potting soil dries out to the point that it is hard to re-wet, wrap a piece of cheesecloth up over the drainage holes, around the pot and twist it gently around the plant stems. Gently submerge the pot in a bucket of tepid water for about half an hour. Lift it out, remove the cheesecloth and let it drain freely.

Water Houseplants Carefully

Pay attention to how you water houseplants. Use lukewarm water for the best results, especially on tender plants like African violets and orchids. Check saucers for drainage. Don't let a plant sit in water or you will begin the process of root rot. Make sure the water is getting through the potting soil instead of running down the sides of the pot.

Identify Houseplant Pests

Houseplant pests may be rearing their heads. Be sure you identify them right to be able to use appropriate controls. Soft-bodied pests like whitefly larvae, aphids, spider mites and mealy bugs are easily controlled with horticultural oil. Fliers like adult whiteflies and fungus gnats need sticky cards to catch them.

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