So we got our first blast of winter this week, and we still have four weeks until winter officially gets here. And although many of you may disagree with me on this one, we need the snow, sooner …
So we got our first blast of winter this week, and we still have four weeks until winter officially gets here. And although many of you may disagree with me on this one, we need the snow, sooner rather than later. Not just to get everyone into the Christmas spirit, but to insulate the ground to protect your plant’s roots.
This time of year when nights are well below freezing but days are warm the ground around your plants constantly freezes and thaws. It is this process over and over again that can kill off the feeder roots of your plants. Most plants including trees and shrubs have feeder roots that are within the top six inches of soil. If the feeder roots die this will cause an undue amount of stress on the plant in the spring and can ultimately result in death. To help your plants through this tough time of year use a mulch to help protect the roots. Now I'm not talking about decorative mulch like pine or cedar, but mulch like hay, straw or leaves.
On a cold crisp morning after we have had temperatures down into the teens and your ground has frozen near the surface, put down your mulch to keep the ground at a constant cold temperature. And let’s face it, it has been plenty cold every morning this week. The feeder roots are not harmed by freezing, but once they freeze they like to stay frozen till spring. This is why if you have ever tried to plant a shrub in a large container they will usually die within a year or two unless brought into an unheated garage or similar storage space.
If we get some snow to stick on the ground before all these temperature swings, the snow will moderate the ground temperature and protect your plant’s roots. Of course it is a little too early to expect snow to stick, but getting snow earlier in the season is more beneficial to the plants. Now I know some of you are thinking, but some years our frost gets three feet deep or more and even though that is true, if the ground freezes gently under a blanket of snow, the ground avoids the wild temperature swings of subzero nights and blazing sunny days. Plant roots will freeze over the winter and that by itself is not a problem, it is constant freezing and thawing that can cause problems.
Another problem with no snow is more insects, in particular fleas. Fleas have been very active this fall causing many pets and people a lot of discomfort. Flea control products continue to be hot sellers even now in late November as the little blood suckers get active on some of those fifty to sixty degree days with bright sunshine.
Besides all the flea control products for your pets, and there are hundreds, there are some simple things that you can use as well. To check if you have a problem in your home, take a simple nightlight with an incandescent bulb and put it in an outlet closest to the floor. Then place a mouse or insect glue board under the nightlight. The insects will be attracted to the light and to the heat that it gives off and when they hop to the light they will get stuck on the glue board. This is a good way to check if your insect problems are gone after using flea bombs or sprays as well. So after all that who's with me in wishing for a little snow on the ground. Look at the bright side, look how fast this fall went and the sooner winter gets here, the sooner spring will be on its way. So let it snow!
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