Christmas plants such as poinsettias, holiday cactus, and amaryllis bulbs are a fun way to bring some color to the winter months. They like a bright, sunny location in your home and regular watering. With proper care these plants can be kept from year to year for lasting value. For help picking out the perfect poinsettia watch this YouTube Video:
There are five main materials that are used as chemical de-icers: calcium chloride, sodium chloride (table salt), potassium chloride, urea, and calcium magnesium acetate.
Calcium chloride is the traditional ice-melting product. Though it will melt ice to about -25 degrees F, it will form slippery, slimy surfaces on concrete and other hard surfaces. Plants are not likely to be harmed unless excessive amounts are used.
Rock salt is sodium chloride and is the least expensive material available. It is effective to approximately 12 degrees F, but can damage soils, plants and metals. Potassium chloride can also cause serious plant injury when washed or splashed on foliage. Both calcium chloride and potassium chloride can damage roots of plants.
Urea (carbonyl diamide) is a fertilizer that is sometimes used to melt ice. Though it is only about 10% as corrosive as sodium chloride, it can contaminate ground and surface water with nitrates. Urea is effective to about 21 degrees F.
Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), a newer product, is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid (the principal compound of vinegar). CMA works differently than the other materials in that it does not form a brine-like salt but rather helps prevent snow particles from sticking to each other or the road surface. It has little effect on plant growth or concrete surfaces.
Limited use of any of these products should cause little injury. Problems accumulate when they are used excessively and there is not adequate rainfall to wash or leach the material from the area. Since limited use is recommended it is best to remove the ice and snow by hand when possible. When they are applied, practice moderation. Resist the temptation to over apply just to make sure the ice and snow melts. Keep in mind this can damage concrete surfaces as well as the plants and grass growing along the walks and driveways. These problems are normally latent and do not show up until spring or summer.
Container gardening is so easy and fun! The containers we use are often large and can be quite pricy. Now that winter has arrived it’s important to bring them inside.
Most pots are made out of terra cotta or glazed ceramic. These pots are able to absorb moisture. They then shrink and swell with winter freezing and thawing. This unfortunately causes the pots to break.
Don’t forget to take a few moments this month to clean out your pots and bring them indoors so you can use them again next year!
If you have newly planted fruit trees they need a little extra maintenance this time of year. Rabbits may begin to nibble on newly planted trees and shrubs through the winter. Protect your investment with at least 2-foot-tall cylinders of 1-inch-mesh, chicken wire, or similar barrier. Other control methods include plastic tree wraps and liquid rabbit repellents sprayed on the plants. Repellents will need to be reapplied each time it rains. It’s also a good idea to pick up fallen fruit in the fall. This will prevent diseases from overwintering and fungal spores will be destroyed.
Fall is the best time to bring in your garden tools and clean them up after a busy season of work. A few extra minutes now may mean a longer life for your favorite tools. Watch this video for information on how to preserve your tools.
In fall we often have an abundance of leaves in our gardens and lawns. Instead of bagging and hauling them to the local dump, consider a few of these options to get the most out of the great organic matter leaves offer.
Shred leaves and let them decompose in your lawn or garden. Grind your leaves with a lawn mower to reduce the surface area. Then allow them to sift into your lawn or rake them into your garden for some added nutrients.
Add leaves to your perennial garden for a beneficial mulch layer. Leaves act as a mulch protecting the crown and root system from winter extremes.
Leaves make a great addition to your compost pile. Compost needs nitrogen and carbon components to fulfill the decomposition process. Leaves add a great carbon source.
You may have heard the Chinese Proverb “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” Trees offer shade and beauty in our landscapes as well as reducing utility costs and providing food sources and habitat for wildlife. The fall season is an excellent time to plant trees! In the spring, soils are cold and may be so wet that there isn’t enough oxygen for adequate root growth. Fall soils are warm and moist which encourages growth. When planted in fall, the tree becomes established well before a spring planted tree and is able to withstand summer stresses.
Nature always gives us signals as seasons change. When summer starts to shift toward fall, the leaves begin to change colors. Another sure sign that fall is right around the corner is the arrival of colorful and beautiful fall mums in garden centers.
Now is the time to plan how and where to use these plants effectively around your home and landscape. A newer trend for growers is to mix colors in containers, so be ready for even more decisions.
Watch this video for information on how to get your mums to last through the winter: