By now many of us have completed the bulk of our outside chores and after taking a holiday break will be looking ahead to next year’s growing season.

By now many of us have completed the bulk of our outside chores and after taking a holiday break will be looking ahead to next year’s growing season. This year some gardeners reported a successful year while many others have struggled with plant diseases, insects and watering issues. Overall, it was a tough year for plants with this summer’s drought causing watering issues for many gardeners and impacting the health of trees already under stress or newly planted in the last few years. Difficult growing conditions this year, along with an increase in the number of people gardening was reflected by a 43 percent increase in our hotline and e-mail questions over 2011. We appreciate your questions and are happy that so many of you are taking advantage of the free horticultural information we provide.

Below we have included information about our upcoming events, garden and landscape tips for December, and a couple of articles written by one of our Master Gardeners.

Upcoming events:

Gardening Hotline: During the winter months we receive many questions about insect pests inside homes, tree and shrub pruning and questions from people who want advice that will help them avoid problems they’ve had in their gardens and landscapes in the past. If you have a question please leave it on our voicemail 331-8415 ext. 107 or e-mail us at mgwayne@cornell.edu Please leave a daytime phone number where we can reach you with any additional questions we may have.

Master Gardeners are a great resource for new gardeners and for troubleshooting home garden and landscape problems including weeds, lawn issues, wildlife, insect pests and plant diseases along with control recommendations. Plant and insect samples can be brought to the office for identification or diagnostic work. During non-hotline hours you can leave your sample with our secretary or in the drop box at the end of the building. Please put insects in a sealed plastic container (so they won’t get crushed) and plant samples in sealed plastic bags. Remember to label them with your name and daytime phone number where we can reach you. We also offer soil pH testing (cost is $3 per sample) and can help you with soil test interpretation.

Saturday, May 11, 2013: CCE Wayne County Master Gardener’s 24th Annual Plant Sale – more information will be provided as we get closer to this event.

Info for woodlot owners:

Free Woodlot Visits: Call 331-8415 ext. 107 to schedule a free woodlot site visit. These free site visits typically last up to 3 hours with our Master Forest Owners providing woodlot management information to Wayne County woodlot owners including best management practices for achieving management goals. During the visit our MFO’s can also provide you with   additional sources for assistance and information.

For information and webinars on forest health visit http://cornellforestconnect.ning.com.

Monthly garden and home grounds 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 that you have been postponing using a lightweight commercial potting mix. Remember to water the plants with warm water.

• Speaking of houseplants, those with large leaves and smooth foliage like philodendrons, dracaena and ficus, will benefit from a periodic leaf cleaning to remove 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 cautiously in order to not use too heavily.

• 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 powered garden equipment and store it away from freezing temperatures.

• Now is the time to re-apply rabbit and deer repellents if you have not already done so. Watch the snow height or rainfall to gauge when to apply 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 if you want the best selection and check out Cornell’s 2013 recommended varieties selected for NYS gardeners at: www.blogs.cornell.edu.

• 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.

• In terms of care for your holiday gift plants you may have received, make sure you pour off any excess water that collects between the container and foil wrapping after watering. 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 blooming period.

Below are a couple of short articles from Dave Reville, CCE Wayne County Master Gardener.

Holiday gifts for gardeners

Holiday flowering plants make great gifts for gardeners, but the list of possibilities doesn’t stop there. Gifts for gardeners and plant lovers abound. Browsing through gardening magazines is a great way to come up with additional options.

If you know someone likes specific types of plants, send for a specialty catalog and then give the catalog with a gift certificate for the recipient to select plants. Other catalogs offer flower and vegetable seeds and transplants, landscape ornamentals, tools, season-extending equipment, garden lighting and even greenhouses.

A gift certificate to your local garden center or nursery is another option. Recipients can use the garden center gift certificate for flowering plants, shrubs and trees or to purchase indoor plants, seeds, special gardening tools, and garden fertilizers. Also consider all the bird feeding support items and the potentials they offer as well.

Gardening books also make great gifts and offer a wide array of choices of subjects, depending upon the potential recipient’s interests.

Who is eating in your pantry?

This is the time of year to be watchful for flying moths in the kitchen or food storage areas especially where pet foods and birdseeds are stored.

These insects, known as Indian Meal Moth, feed on grain products. The adult beetle and moth are frequently seen in cabinets, on counters and around windows. The larvae and some adults of these insects feed on rice, barley, corn, wheat, birdseed, cornmeal, pasta, cereals, flour, cake mixes, dry pet foods and nuts. Sometimes they can be found feeding upon dried flower arrangements, ornamental corn and seed displays.

All life stages can be found in these products often simultaneously. Generally, these pests are brought into the house in infested food packages or when purchased in bulk. When infestations are discovered, remove and inspect opened and unopened food packages from the cabinets. Discard infested products immediately. Vacuum shelves and cracks around shelves to remove spilled food and insects. Discard the vacuum bags as well so the insects cannot potentially, breed in the bag. Wash shelves with hot, soapy, water. Place food products in airtight containers and not in plastic bags. If no insect activity has been observed for six months, they have probably been eliminated.

Contact us for more information on this and other home grounds or garden pests.