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Skaggs: Holidays are a great time to catch up on garden chores

POSTED: December 25, 2008 5:56 p.m.

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us have forgotten about our homes and gardens.

However, if you’re fortunate enough to have a few days off this year, why not catch up on some home and garden chores. Here are a few timely tips.

Fluttering moths in your kitchen? Indian meal moths are often brought into the home in cereal or grain products during the holiday cooking season. Moths are 3/8 inches long with 1/2-inch long brownish-gray wings. Adults lay eggs, and small whitish larvae with dark heads feed on grains. Check foods for larvae and place all insect-free foods in insect-proof containers such as glass jars or plastic containers.

Forgot to plant some of your bulbs? Don’t try to hold them over indoors until spring. The bulbs will dry out. Plant them outside. Planting them late may cause them not to flower in the spring, but it’s still better to get them in the ground now.

Move your live tree outside after Christmas and decorate it for the birds. Place the tree in a bucket of damp sand. Put on strings of popcorn and cranberries. You can also add apples, oranges, leftover breads and pine cones covered with peanut butter dipped in bird seed. Push the edible ornaments well into the tree for best results.

Put up barriers such as wire mesh or hardware cloth to protect young trees and shrubs from rabbit and vole damage. Favorite plants on their menu include blueberries, roses, fruit trees and even blackberries.

An additional layer of mulch is usually recommended during winter months after the first freeze. Mulches will reduce water loss from the soil, thus aiding in transpiration and helping to regulate soil temperature.

If concerned about wood rot, repair any leaks, faulty plumbing, leaky gutters and downspouts. Besides protecting wood, repairing leaks saves water. Also, provide adequate cross ventilation beneath buildings to eliminate dead air pockets, and avoid placing dense shrubs in front of foundation vents.

Mist houseplants or place them on a pebble-lined tray of water to increase humidity. House plants commonly suffer during winter due to the warm dry air supply from furnaces, heat pumps and wood stoves.

Remember to fertilize pansies and other cool-season annuals and vegetables.

Check for scales on evergreens such as hollies, camellias and euonymus. Look for white deposits on the underside of mottled leaves. Spray with dormant oil, being sure to coat the underside of the leaves

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.



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