Mid-Atlantic

December, 2000
Regional Report

Houseplants from the Kitchen

Just for fun, try some new houseplants made from kitchen scraps. With a little care, it\'s possible to root pineapple tops, start avocado pits in water, germinate citrus seeds, plant bits of plump ginger root, or even start a sweet potato vine. And by purchasing food-grade seeds, you can produce your own supply of healthy edible bean sprouts and veggie sprouts.

Mulch with Evergreen Branches

When the weather turns bitter cold and windy, but there is no protective covering of snow, consider covering any marginally hardy perennials lightly with an airy layer of evergreen branches. This helps break the wind, traps any snow that falls, and provides a modicum of insulation without the risk of trapping excess moisture around the crowns of the plants.

Water the Birds


Many gardeners enjoy pampering our feathered friends during the cold months of winter. It's important to provide the birds with a steady supply of fresh water, as well as food, when temperatures drop. One way to water your birds is to invest in a heated bird bath. A low-tech system is to set out a fresh pan of water at a regular time each day.

De-icer Alternatives


Use caution when spreading de-icing salts on walkways and driveways beside plantings (and lawn areas) or where the salty runoff from melting snow and ice may collect around plantings. Salt is toxic to many garden plants as well as trees and turf. To protect sensitive areas, you might try using sand, wood ash, or sawdust instead.

Inspect Stored Summer Bulbs


Check summer bulbs and tubers such as dahlias and gladiolus periodically while they're in winter storage. If they have begun to shrivel, they're too dry and need a sprinkling of water. If they're sprouting, they're too warm and need to be moved to a cooler spot. If they're moldy, they're too damp and need to be repacked in drier material. If they look about the same as when you packed them, so far so good.

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