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GARDENER’S CHECKLIST: Week of December 15, 2022

With four- and six-legged elves running rampant in our cozy, heated dwellings, take Ron's advice and protect your houseplants from pests and stress. In addition maintaining your mistletoe, Ron will help you keep all your other plants as fit as fiddleheads while we nestle in for winter.

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published in 2020, and is re-printed here with updates from author Ron Kujawski.

He’s making a list,
He’s checking it twice,
He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…

So, you better be nice and read this week’s Checklist: 

* Do a little grooming! Of course, this is in reference to your houseplants. Snip off any dead, damaged, and diseased leaves. Also, examine plants carefully for evidence of pests. Aphids, spider mites, scale, and mealybug are the most common infesters of houseplants. Safe pesticides to use indoors include insecticidal soap, neem oil, and pyrethrum, but do read and follow label instructions before making applications. In the most severe cases of pest or disease, the best solution is to relocate the plants to the trashcan.

Mealybug is one of the common pests of houseplants.

* Keep mistletoe and other plants with poisonous berries or leaves out of reach of children and pets. Both the two-legged and the four-legged creatures are often attracted to plants and, unfortunately, they like to examine every object they come in contact with by placing it in their mouth. Perhaps what parents of a toddler need are extendable plant stands that can be raised as the little one grows taller. Now there is an idea for an inventor.

* Place wreaths made of fresh greenery outdoors. They’ll last longer in the cold than in the dry heat of indoor environments. (I wonder if that is also true of gardeners.) If the wreaths are needed indoors for special occasions, just bring them in for a few hours or a day at most. Gardeners may be brought in for longer periods.

Keep houseplants looking good with regular grooming.

* Prune some grape vines to use for making wreaths. No grape vines in your garden? Then try the neighbor’s garden, or, for the sake of maintaining good relations, snip vines from wild grapes. The vines may have to be soaked overnight in water to make them flexible enough to shape into a wreath.

* Be careful not to over-water Christmas cactus that is in bloom. The flowers will persist longer if the soil is allowed to dry a little between applications of water. Keep the plants in a sunny and moderately warm (about 70°F) location. 

 * Protect houseplants that will be transported at this time of year.  It’s great to give plants as gifts to friends but it is even better if those plants aren’t blackened by exposure to freezing temperatures. Place each plant in a paper bag or wrap it in newspaper…e-editions such as The Edge probably will not do.

*** 

A book for beginner and veteran vegetable gardeners alike.

Late evening is typically reading time for me. Usually, my reading interests are directed toward adventure fiction a la Dan Brown and George R. R. Martin, travel essays in the vein of Peter Mayle, and pastoral reminiscences of the James Herriot sort. I am less likely to read gardening literature because, with few exceptions, they are very dull. Most of my collection of gardening books is of the reference-book sort, such as The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael Dirr, Wyman’s Gardening Encyclopedia by Donald Wyman, and Growing & Propagating Showy Native Woody Plants by Richard Bir. However, there are some in literary style that I enjoy. These are ones where the author describes his or her own gardens. Two of my favorites are A Garden of One’s Own by Elsa Bakalar and The Perennial Gardener by Frederick McGourty. Another book I’d recommend for beginner and experienced vegetable gardeners is the Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook.  I’ll not mention the authors but you may know them.

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The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.

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The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.