Northern & Central Midwest

January, 2014
Regional Report

Use Safe De-Icers

Purchase calcium chloride (CaCl) salt instead of sodium chloride (NaCl) to melt the ice on walkways and driveways. It does less damage to plants and the environment in general. Mixing in ashes or sand can reduce the amount of salt needed and further protect your landscape (it's messy, though).

Clear Snow from Branches

When heavy snows weigh branches down, gently lift branches from underneath with a broom to shake off the snow before it freezes or crusts over. If ice accumulates on branches, just let it melt naturally to prevent breakage. Branches that are bent to extremes will often rebound as soon as the ice melts.

Prevent Iris Borer Damage

Pick a tolerable day, weather-wise, to remove all shreds of bearded and Siberian iris foliage, if you didn't get to this chore last fall. Borers lay eggs on the foliage in fall, so destroying the foliage gets rid of the eggs and prevents borer damage. You will have to do it every year since adult borers can fly in from neighbors' gardens.

Order Seeds

Don't put off ordering seeds. Order them now and you will assure delivery in time for spring planting. Many seed companies offer bonuses to gardeners who order seeds early, so check the catalogs. Also, most garden centers have their seeds on display already, so buy early to get the best selection.

Check Stored Produce

Check stored fruits and vegetables regularly for deterioration. Ripening produce gives off ethylene gas, causing more ripening. A single bad spot or overripe vegetable or fruit can cause other fruits to rot so be sure to promptly remove anything that has even the slightest signs of decline to keep the other produce sound.

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