Northern & Central Midwest

December, 2011
Regional Report

Force Leftover Bulbs

Pot up leftover bulbs for forcing when the days are dreary. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and even fritillarias can be potted, watered and then stored in the refrigerator or a protected window well outdoors for a specific number of weeks to force them to bloom indoors.

Plant Bareroot Trees and Shrubs

You can still plant bareroot trees and shrubs. The ground is still warm enough for some root growth and the cool air will keep the plants dormant. Dig a hole large enough to encompass all the roots with no crowding or circling. Place the roots on a dome of soil, backfill with the soil from the hole, and water well.

Use Herbs to Brighten Meals

Don't be shy when using all those wonderful herbs you dried and froze through the summer. The flavor of homegrown herbs is quite unlike those you buy in stores and will give a spark to any midwinter meal. Much of the salt can be left out of foods when using herbs for seasoning.

Clean Feeders

If you plan on feeding the birds this winter, bring in all feeders to clean and disinfect before filling with fresh seed. Discard any seed left over from last year. Also, keep water nearby for the birds by putting a heating coil in a birdbath of water. Be sure to purchase one designed for this purpose.

Keep an Eye on Houseplants

Houseplants should be settled into their winter quarters by now. Keep a careful eye out for pests since the dry heat of the furnace can cause population explosions. A bi-weekly shower goes a long way toward washing off unwanted guests and cleaning dust off the leaves.

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