New England

November, 2011
Regional Report

Give Plants a Drink

Give trees, shrubs, and perennials planted or transplanted this fall, as well as all evergreens, a last deep watering before the ground freezes. Going into winter with a well-hydrated root system will help these plants come through the winter in the best shape.

Clean and Fill Bird Feeders

Be sure to clean and sanitize stored feeders before setting them out. Scrub in soapy water, then immerse feeders in a solution of nine parts water to one part household bleach. Finish by rinsing thoroughly. The National Audubon Society recommends cleaning feeders once or twice a month to reduce the possibility of disease spread. Discard any old seed in the feeder at cleaning time and rake up spilled seeds and hulls on the ground. If you put out multiple feeders, space them around your yard, as crowding leads to the easy spread of disease. Keep birdbaths clean and sanitized as well.

Clean up Fallen Fruit

Rake up and dispose of fallen fruits and leaves from beneath your fruit trees, as well as any mummified fruits still clinging to branches. This will help prevent insect pests and disease-causing organisms from overwintering. Thorough cleanup means fewer problems next growing season.

Turn your Compost Pile

Spread any finished compost in garden beds. Keep turning your compost pile, moistening it if needed, to keep active decomposition going as long as possible before cold temperatures put things on hold until spring. Consider setting up an enclosed composter near the back door so it's easy to reach with kitchen scraps when there is snow on the ground.

Check for Deer Ticks

Adult deer ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease, begin to emerge in early fall and their numbers peak in late October into November. But they can remain active any time the temperature is above 45 degrees F and have even been found active in southern New England during mild spells in December and January. So keep checking for deer ticks after you've been out in your yard or garden if you live in an area where these pests pose a threat. According to Umass Extension, tossing your gardening clothes in the dryer for ten minutes will kill any hitchhiking ticks on them. (Early to mid summer when tiny deer tick nymphs are active is another time when risk of a tick bite is high.)

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