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Wayne Post
  • Monthly home ground/gardening tips for December from Master Gardeners

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  • • Upcoming events
    Gardening Hotline: During the winter months you can contact us via phone or e-mail. If you have a question please leave it on our voicemail (315)331-8415 ext. 107 or e-mail us at mgwayne@cornell.edu Be sure to include a daytime phone number where we can reach you with any additional questions we may have.
    4-H Enrollment: The Wayne County 4-H Program offers children and their family ways to explore topics they are interested in at a level of involvement that meets their busy schedules. Youth ages 5 through 19 may join 4-H. By offering "learn-by-doing" projects, youth can explore a broad spectrum of interests including environmental conservation and science, personal development and leadership, communication and the expressive arts, plants and animals, and science and technology.
    If you are interested in joining 4-H please call Cornell Cooperative Extension at 331-8415. 4-H is the youth development program of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Wayne County and the National land grant University system.
    Beekeeping Classes: If you are interested in learning about beekeeping the Ontario-Fingerlakes Beekeepers Association is holding training for beginning beekeeping. The five-class training will be held at the CCE Ontario Co. office - 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday evenings (Jan. 7, 21, Feb. 4, 18, and March 4) - for more info or to register go to www.ontariocountybeekeepers.org.
    • Gardening tips
    As we approach the New Year, there are still some garden tasks to complete.
    Tie together or support the branches on evergreen shrubs with burlap, which will limit plant, damage from heavy, wet snow. Never use plastic to wrap shrubs, as it will heat up on a sunny day causing plants to “cook”.
    This is a good time to transplant your houseplants using a lightweight commercial potting mix. Remember to water the plants with warm water.
    Houseplants, with large leaves and smooth foliage like philodendrons, dracena and ficus, will benefit from washing their leaves at intervals removing dust and grime, which clogs leaf pores. You can use a soft, moist cloth, turning it as you clean or you can use commercial leaf shine products but use sparingly.
    This is a good time to clean and sharpen garden tools. Sharpen hoes, pruners, spades, edgers and mower blades, as this will make tasks easier next spring. If sharpening mower blades, be sure that they are balanced and level before placing on the mower and remember to remove the battery from battery powered garden equipment and store it away from freezing temperatures.
    Now is the time to re-apply rabbit and deer repellants if you have not already done so. Watch the snow height or rainfall to gauge when to it again. Research has shown that the “rotten egg” odor products seem to work the best.
    Consider ordering your seeds early for this coming gardening season. Check with Cooperative Extension for variety recommendations for 2014.
    Page 2 of 3 - If you have a home orchard, this is a great time to remove fruit still left on or around any trees. This will help prevent the spread of any disease problems. Make sure that your mouse and deer guards are in place as well.
    To care for holiday plants you may have received remove the foil when watering and allow excess water to drain away. Locate the plants away from direct heat sources like a wood stove, heat run or on top of the TV. Remove drying leaves and flowers before they “die”. Pruning on a frequent basis can promote a longer bloom period.
    Overwintering plants in outdoor containers: Plants that are hardy to USDA zone 6 may die when left outside in their container over the winter. Plants that you plan to grow in outdoor containers that will remain outdoors throughout the winter months should be hardy to at least USDA zone 4.
    Move containers to a sheltered spot away from the wind and apply mulch to the tops of the containers to decrease freezing and thawing of the soil. Evergreen trimmings placed over the container can also help keep the container at consistent temperatures. Make sure you leave the material in place until spring.
    If the plants are marginally hardy consider wrapping the containers with burlap (not plastic) for extra protection. You can surround pots with straw bales but this may encourage rodents. Smaller containers can be sunk into well drained soil or mulch pile for the winter leaving the top of the container just above the existing material/soil and covering with a bit of mulch. Remember: you are not trying to keep the container, plants, or soil warm, just protected from the extremes. Make sure you don’t leave porous ceramic/clay containers outside over the winter.
    • Caring for live trees
    Cover the area you will be digging for your tree with several inches of mulch to keep the ground from freezing. The hole you dig for your tree should be 2-3 times the width of the rootball and only as deep as the rootball.
    Keep the tree indoors for no more than 7 to 10 days making the climate change gradually by moving the tree one to two days at a time, first by placing the tree two days in the garage, then one day in a cool basement, and then into the room where you plan to set it up and decorate it. Repeat this process in reverse when you take it back outdoors.
    Spraying the foliage with an antidessicant spray before bringing it into the house will help prevent loss of moisture from the needles. (Always follow label instructions).
    While the tree is inside, water it as you would a house plant. Water frequently and thoroughly, but never let the soil get either dry or muddy.
    Page 3 of 3 - Indoor temperatures should be kept as cool as possible, especially at night. Be sure that it does not receive direct sunlight and never place the tree near a fireplace or any other heat source.
    • Cut Trees
    Keep freshly cut trees in a cool location such as a porch or garage with the butt of the tree in a bucket of water.
    When you're ready to bring the tree indoors, saw off one inch from the bottom to create a fresh cut which helps increase water uptake. You may want to sterilize your tree stand which will reduce bacteria build up, then place and secure the tree in its stand. Fill the reservoir with warm water. No additives or formulas have been shown to preserve a tree longer than just plain water. Check the water supply at least twice a day and add water as needed so the reservoir never becomes empty.
    Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, wood stoves, and heating vents as these will dry the tree out prematurely and create a fire hazard.
    • Insects in Stored Foods
    The most common insect pests in stored foods in homes are flour or grain beetles and flour or grain moths. Foods that commonly become infested include flour, mixes, pasta, rice, nuts, and pet food. Stored food should be inspected periodically and any infested food products thrown away. There is no satisfactory way of separating the insects from the food products.
    Flour or grain beetles are very small slender, reddish brown beetles. During the larval or worm stage, grain beetles appear as small yellowish-white worms. Both larvae and beetles may be found in foods.
    The Indian meal moth is another food pest commonly found indoors. They infest food and the adults may fly around the house. Indian meal moth larvae are about 1/2 inch long and are usually white or cream colored with a dark head. Foods infested with moths usually have a silk like webbing on the surface left by the larvae while they crawl about.
    Carefully examine all susceptible foods that may have been exposed to infestation. Be sure to check birdseed and pet food. These are often a source of an infestation. For additional control recommendations contact our Master Gardeners.
    — Laurie VanNostrand and the Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Wayne County Master Gardeners
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