New England

December, 2011
Regional Report

Check Houseplant Leaves

Look for drying and browning of edges of houseplant leaves that can indicate too little humidity. If plants are suffering in dry heated indoor air, group pots together to increase humidity, set pots on a tray of pebbles filled to half their depth with water, or set up a humidifier nearby.

Clean and Oil Garden Tools

Wash the dirt off of tools and dry well. Remove rust with steel wool or a wire brush. Sharpen the blades of spades, hoes, shovels, and pruners. Sand any wooden handles that have become rough. Then coat metal parts and wooden handles with a lubricating oil such as boiled linseed oil or tung oil. Store tools where they won't be exposed to dampness over the winter. Winterize power equipment according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Give the Gift of Gardening

If a novice gardener is on your gift list this holiday season, give a garden "starter kit." Include a how-to book to delve into over the winter, a few basic tools to unwrap, a gift card from a local garden store for plant or seed purchases, and, as a stocking stuffer, add some homemade "coupons" redeemable for hands-on time with you in the garden.

Take Measurements to Aid in Planning

Before the ground is blanketed in a deep layer of snow, take measurements and photos of areas where you are considering adding new gardens or making landscaping changes. This will be a big help when you work on plans over the winter months.

Clip Greens Carefully for Winter Decorating

When you trim branches from needled and broad-leaf evergreens such as holly, boxwood, false cypress, juniper, and balsam fir for holiday decorating, be sure to remove no more than about five percent of the branches from any one plant. Cut back to a lower branch union so you don't leave a stub, and make cuts so that the natural form of the plant is retained.

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