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Gardener’s Checklist

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 Store leftover vegetable seeds in an airtight container kept in a cool, dry place. To ensure seeds remain dry, place a packet of dehydrating gel in the container. My preferred storage location is the refrigerator. My wife’s preferred storage location is anywhere else.

 Dig up, clean, chop and freeze leeks for winter use. Leeks can remain in the garden under a deep layer of straw or shredded leaves through early winter. However, there’s always a risk that voles will find this mulch is a great place to hide, not to mention that they will munch on the leeks. This is also a problem with leaving root crops in the garden under a deep mulch layer.

 Inspect the needles of mugo, red, Scots and jack pines for eggs of European Pine Sawfly. The eggs will appear as a series of yellow spots on this year’s needles. Removing the infested needles will reduce the amount of defoliation caused by Sawfly larvae next spring.

 Continue cleaning up gardens focusing special attention on removing leaves of shrubs, trees and herbaceous perennials which were infected with leaf diseases.

 Inspect houseplants at least once a week for infestations of spider mites, scales, mealy bugs, white flies and fungus gnats. Houseplants which spent this past summer outdoors are the most likely candidates for such infestations. Placing yellow sticky cards (available at garden centers) near infested plants is a safe way to capture white flies and fungus gnats. For the other pests, insecticidal soap should do the trick. Be sure to read the label on insecticidal soap products since certain plants are sensitive to soap applications. If in doubt, treat a leaf or two and then wait several days to observe any toxicity before proceeding with full plant application. Also, keep sprayed plants out of direct sunlight for several days.

 Set up mouse traps in basements, attics, and other rooms where you see evidence of mouse invasion. Mice like the comfort of a heated house as much as you do. Mouse house invasions should be taken seriously since mice can carry diseases which are dangerous to humans.

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It’s easy to overlook the obvious when it comes to analyzing why a particular plant died, especially when there is no visible evidence of pests or disease. For example, where does the water from your downspouts go? Are the downspouts set up for water to drain away from plants? Soils at the base of downspouts can remain saturated for long periods of time, especially in spring when snows are melting. Saturated soils of course will lead to the death of a plant’s roots. Yet, visible evidence in terms of shoot death may not occur until many weeks later.

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