Upper South

December, 2011
Regional Report

Look For Christmas Presents at Garden Centers

Many local garden centers have a holiday open house offering customers a special opportunity to shop for garden-related items. Of course, these items are usually available at other times, but an open house offers an especially festive environment for shopping as the store will probably be filled with holiday flowers and greens. Whenever you shop, a garden center provides lots of gift possibilities, either for yourself or someone else.

Store Tools, Equipment, and Supplies for the Winter

There may still be days ahead where we can get outside in the garden, but they are becoming fewer and fewer, so get at least most of your tools smartly stored for the winter. Sharpen shovels, hoes, pruners, and mower blades. Clean all metal surfaces, dry thoroughly, and coat with a layer of spray lubricant. Store in an organized way. Drain hoses, coil, and store neatly. Drain and replace oil in power tools and clean the air filter, then run the engine until it is out of gas or add a gas stabilizer to the tank. Store any kinds of chemicals in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children. Clean and store pots.

Feed Pumpkins to the Critters

If you've used pumpkins as part of your fall decorations outdoors, don't just let them rot away. If you don't want to cook and eat them yourself, then give squirrels and other wildlife a treat by cutting the pumpkins in half and leaving them outside. To keep animals off your back steps, set the halved pumpkins under shrubs away from the house.

Clean Bird Feeders

Some of us have been feeding the birds for weeks now, or even year-round. No matter, this is still a good time either for cleaning the feeders. To keep molds, fungus, and diseases to a minimum, choose plastic, steel, or glass feeders and clean them at least twice a year by soaking them in a 10 percent bleach solution for 3 minutes, scrubbing with a brush. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely.

Apply Anti-Dessicant Sprays

Evergreens, especially broad-leaved ones, are particularly susceptible to water loss during the winter when the ground is frozen but there is bright sun, wind, and air temperatures above freezing. Unable to take up water from the frozen soil, at the least leaves can scorch or, at the worst, the plant will die. A method of preventing this is to use an anti-dessicant spray, also known as an anti- transpirant. These are products that can be bought at a garden center. Spray the plants now whenever the temperatures are above freezing, following manufacturer's directions.

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