Protect Your Trees During the Holiday Season
As the days get darker and the nights colder, we are reminded that the holidays are just around the corner. While the festive lights of the season bring warmth to many, when setting up your outdoor light displays you should take extra care of your trees and plants.
Here are some excellent tree and plant-friendly outdoor lighting tips for you to follow:
Before you start decorating make sure you do a thorough cleanup of your yard, taking extra care to remove leaves from the areas you plan on adding lights. Even though raking leaves is decidedly less exciting than decorating for the holidays, leaving the leaves on the lawn can create some unhealthy situations for your lawn. Compacted leaves can restrict water from reaching your lawn, harbor damaging molds, and serve as a haven for pests like ticks and mosquitoes come spring.
When you are done clearing leaves, check and clear your gutters and downspouts. This will help prevent damage from water freezes that can damage roofs and tear down guttering.
After you are done with clearing your yard, mark areas of new planting or sensitive areas so you don’t accidentally trample on them and cause damage.
Plug your lights into an outdoor rated extension cord, timer, or outlet. Not only does this conserve energy, it prevents overheating and damage to your trees and shrubs.
Take care to not wrap wires and string lights too tightly around living plants. You can damage the bark and the sensitive tissue beneath the bark. This can make your plants more vulnerable to pests, fungi, and disease.
Use only high-grade outdoor lights when you light up your yard. Indoor lights and cheap lights can be a fire hazard.
If you are worried about how holiday lights will affect your trees, shrubs, and plants, or are just too busy to set up holiday light displays the way you want, the Christmas light installation experts at Organically Green not only create beautiful outdoor light displays, they will also make sure your landscaping is kept safe and healthy during set up and take down.
Prevent Tree Damage During a Hurricane
With hurricane season upon us, we need to start thinking seriously about the damage these storms can bring, especially on our trees and property. Some trees are more prone to storm damage than others. A shallow-rooted tree growing in soft soil, for instance, can easily topple onto a house or car. Roots can come up and damage walkways and foundations. Trees can take down power lines causing not only a nightmare for you, but your neighbors as well.
One way to prevent storm damage to your trees is to spot the signs a tree is at risk.
Some potential problems are easy to spot. These include:
• Cracks in the trunk or major limbs.
• Hollow and decayed trees.
• Trees that look one-sided or lean significantly.
• Branches hanging over the house near the roof.
• Limbs in contact with power lines.
• Mushrooms growing from the bark, indicating a decayed or weakened stem.
• V-shaped forks rather than U-shaped ones. V-shaped are more likely to split.
• Crossing branches that rub or interfere with one another.
Regular pruning can prevent many potential problems posed by a hurricane. Prompt removal of diseased, damaged, or dead plant parts helps limit the spread of harmful insects and disease, as well as reduce the possibility of future storm damage.
The experts at Organically Green can help you secure your trees during a storm and provide assistance in tree trimming and pruning before they cause damage or help you deal with fallen branches and trees.
Think you’re almost rid of ticks and mosquitoes? Think again.
Now that summer is starting to die down it’s time to think about getting that last bit of beach time and forget about ticks and mosquitoes, right? Not exactly. Ticks and mosquitoes are active throughout the summer and well into the fall. Cold weather will kill off a few species, but most mosquitoes will simply go dormant in cold weather.
Ticks and mosquitoes are usually the most active during this time, fattening up for breeding season. Lyme disease infections occur most often during the July–August months and can remain active well into Halloween.
As for female mosquitoes, they will deposit their eggs in damp soil, tree knotholes, and anywhere that spring rains will allow the eggs to hatch when the weather turns warm. Like ticks, cold will not kill mosquito eggs. Predation is their main enemy, but there are few bugs or other insects out during the winter—so few eggs will be eliminated.
A good way to keep tick and mosquito numbers down is to continue with your tree and yard spraying regimen. If you do not have one yet, now is as good as time as any to start.
By eliminating adult ticks and mosquitoes throughout the late summer and fall, you can reduce their numbers in your yard next spring and summer.
Besides Lyme: Other Dangerous Tick-Borne Illnesses
Most people on Long Island are aware of the dangers of Lyme Disease and the ticks that carry them, but did you know ticks can carry several other dangerous diseases, some of them life threatening? Here is a list of other dangerous tick-borne illnesses that pose a threat.
Tularemia is transmitted to humans by the dog tick, the wood tick, and the lone star tick. Tularemia occurs throughout the U.S.
Tularemia is a disease of animals and humans caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Rabbits, hares, and rodents are especially susceptible—and often die in large numbers—during outbreaks. Humans can become infected through tick bites.
Symptoms vary depending on the route of infection. Tularemia can be life-threatening in humans, however, most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics if caught early enough.
STARI (Southern tick-associated rash illness)
STARI (Southern tick-associated rash illness) is transmitted via bites from the lone star tick, found in the southeastern and eastern United States. The rash of STARI is a red, expanding “bull’s-eye” lesion that develops around the site of a lone star tick bite. The rash usually appears within 7 days of the tick bite and expands to a diameter of roughly 3 inches or more. Patients may also experience fatigue, headache, fever, and muscle pains. The saliva from lone star ticks can be irritating; redness and discomfort at a bite site does not necessarily indicate an infection.
STARI is diagnosed on the basis of symptoms, geographic location, and possibility of tick bite. Unfortunately, the cause of STARI is unknown and therefore no diagnostic blood tests have been developed.
It is not known whether antibiotic treatment is necessary or beneficial for patients with STARI. Nevertheless, because STARI resembles early Lyme disease, physicians will often treat patients with oral antibiotics.
Powassan disease cases have been reported primarily from northeastern states and the Great Lakes region.
Powassan (POW) virus is transmitted to humans by infected ticks. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region. Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain.
Ehrlichiosis is transmitted to humans by the lone star tick, found primarily in the south central and eastern United States. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks following a tick bite. Ehrlichiosis is diagnosed based on symptoms, clinical presentation, and later confirmed with specialized laboratory tests.
Babesiosis is caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Most human cases of babesiosis in the United States are caused by the blacklegged tick, found primarily in the northeast and upper midwest.
Many people who are infected with Babesia microti feel fine and do not have any symptoms. Some, however, develop nonspecific flu-like symptoms; such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, or fatigue.
Because Babesia parasites infect and destroy red blood cells, babesiosis can cause a special type of anemia called hemolytic anemia. This type of anemia can lead to jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and dark urine.
Babesiosis can be a severe, life-threatening disease, particularly in people who:
- do not have a spleen
- have a weak immune system for other reasons (such as cancer, lymphoma, or AIDS)
- have other serious health conditions (such as liver or kidney disease)
- are elderly.
The best way to prevent tick-borne illness is to prevent the ticks themselves. Regular tree spraying and tick control treatments will help keep ticks and the diseases they carry out of your yard and away from your family and pets.
Getting Your Lawn It’s Greenest
Nothing says summer like a lush, inviting, green lawn. Proper lawn care not only looks good, it may add value to your home; especially if you maintain the rest of your home’s curb appeal. Keeping your grass green can take some work. Here are some tips to help you out.
Choose a variety of grass seeds that will work best in your yard.
Each type of grass has its own set of instructions based on climate and environment. Some variations of grass prefer shady areas, while others like the sun. Some varieties do better in warm weather, and others like cooler temperatures. Find out which grass grows best for your yard, taking into consideration sun exposure, shade, and soil condition.
Feed Your Lawn
Providing sufficient nutrients is important to getting green grass. Depending on the elements your soil needs you may be able to correct problems with fertilizers, which release nutrients over a period of time.
Don’t Forget to Water
Grass needs to be watered about one inch per week. The best time of the day to water your lawn is early in the morning. This is because it will be less likely to evaporate in the hot sun. On particularly hot or dry days, you may need to water the yard at additional times to prevent the grass from drying out.
Mow With Care
Mowing your lawn a day after watering will help your lawn heal better from the recent cut. This can prevent the tips of the grass from becoming brown. If you mow your lawn high it will be more durable against drought and against frost. In the summer it’s good to leave the grass clippings so that you can spend less on water. This might not be a good idea if you have kids or pets that play on the lawn.
Aerate Your Lawn
The process of aeration makes small holes in the surface of your lawn allowing water, nutrients, and air access to the roots. Aeration allows better drainage, which reduces runoff. Aerate your lawn at least once in the spring and again in the fall for a green lawn.
Prevent Weeds the Natural Way
A natural way to prevent weeds is to plant more grass with seeds. Thick grass chokes out weeds and makes it harder for them to grow or spread within your lawn.
Warm Winter Brings More Ticks
While we had a few cold snaps this winter, the season has been relatively mild over all. This sounds like a plus, we avoided devastating storms and icy temperatures, but a warm winter can bring on big problems like pests.
Tick populations tend to explode in seasons following mild winters when long stretches of freezing temps are not able to help cull the population. Additionally small animals and deer are more likely to survive a mild winter creating the perfect mode of transportation for these disease carrying pests to get into your yard and pose a threat to your family and pets.
Here are some simple landscaping techniques that you can use to help reduce tick populations.
- Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edges of lawns.
- Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration to recreational areas.
- Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.
- Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
- Stack wood neatly and in dry areas.
- Keep playground equipment, decks and patios away from yard edges and trees.
The best way to keep ticks from your yard is to have it sprayed regularly beginning in the spring. Organically Green uses safe organic compounds proven to keep disease carrying ticks and mosquitoes out of your yard. Schedule your tree spraying today!
All About Roots
Healthy roots make for healthy trees. They absorb water and minerals, food and water storage, and anchorage. Fostering root growth will build strong, hearty trees. Roots are predominantly located in the top 6 to 24 inches of the soil and occasionally can grow deeper 3 to 7 feet if soil conditions allow. They tend to grow about 2 to 4 times the diameter of the crown.
There are many ways to injure tree roots and stress trees. Some injuries are unintentional and cannot be avoided. However, most root damage can be avoided with some care.
One of the biggest killers of urban trees is use of heavy clay subsoils instead of topsoil and soil compaction. Heavy clays and soil compaction restricts water and oxygen uptake by roots.
Balance is the key to keeping roots their best, too much or too little of anything can be detrimental to your trees.
Changes in soil depth around trees can also cause injury to root systems. The addition of only 4 to 6 inches of soil over an existing root system drastically reduces the amount of oxygen and water available to the roots. Conversely, removing the soil around an existing tree can expose and injure roots, change the soil conditions where roots grow, and reduce water availability.
Overwatering causes the soil air spaces to fill with water and restrict oxygen. Underwatering does not provide sufficient water for proper root development. Overfertilization can injure or kill the roots, but underfertilization results in a lack of the minerals essential to maintain a healthy tree. Competition for water and minerals between tree roots, bushes, grass and flowers can also stress trees. Trees can be stressed from root damage by routine soil preparation in the tree’s root zone for flower planting.
When there are problems with your root systems it will show throughout the entire tree. Symptoms of root disease include small, yellow, chlorotic foliage reduced growth; scorch; tufted leaves at the end of branches; and branch dieback. Mushrooms or conks at the base of the tree, as well as white fungal growth under the bark, may also be a sign of root disease. Symptoms of root problems from construction damage or other detrimental activities may appear one to several years after the damage occurred.
If you suspect your tree may be suffering from root problems contact the certified arborists at Organically Green, (631) 467-7999.
Landscape designs can be as unique as the individual themselves. There are many types of trees to fit any style or aesthetic. Just as important as finding the right type of tree for your climate, choosing the right shape of tree can make all the difference.
Here is a basic guide to tree shapes.
- Columnar Shaped Trees
If you are looking for height and drama, columnar shaped trees are for you. Columnar trees are tall and very thin, with upright branches. They provide great screening without taking up much room in the landscape.
Examples: Italian cypress, Lombardy poplar, pyramid oak, Emerald Green arborvitae.
- Pyramidal or Conical Shaped Trees
If you are a fan of Christmas trees this is the type of tree for you. Pyramidal trees are wider at the bottom, with a main center trunk and horizontal branches. Conical trees are similar but are usually more slender and bullet-shaped. These trees are very dramatic and need space to reach their full width.
Examples: blue spruce, Fraser fir, pin oak, western red cedar.
- Round or Oval Shaped Trees
If you are more of a traditionalist, round or oval shaped trees will be right for you. These shade giving trees are upright, with a central strong trunk that branches into a dense round or oval-shaped crown.
Examples: sugar maple, Bradford pear, white ash, sourwood.
- Spreading or Open Shaped Trees
Spreading or open shaped trees are perfect for the romantic. These trees have an open, irregular shape that may be wider than it is tall. In design they are used to soften buildings.
Examples: cherry, dogwood, ginkgo, mimosa.
- Weeping Shaped Trees
For those with a whimsical taste, weeping trees offer a sense of drama and make great accent trees. They have flexible, long branches that hang down and may even touch the ground. Weeping trees should not be planted near walkways or streets where the hanging branches would get in the way.
Examples: weeping willow, weeping cherry, weeping mulberry.
All is Merry & Bright: A Brief History of Christmas Lights
Light has always been an important part of the holiday season. For centuries people would decorate their Christmas trees with lit candles. As you can imagine, fire on a dry pine tree is just a massive fire waiting to happen and they did often.
In 1900, eight years after General Electric purchased the patent rights to Edison’s bulbs, the first known advertisement for Christmas tree lights appeared in Scientific American Magazine. They were so expensive that the ad suggests renting lights for a holiday display.
Within fifteen years the demand for Christmas lights skyrocketed and thus a billion dollar industry was born.
The basic foundation of the Christmas light, the incandescent bulb, hardly changed for nearly a century, and is only now undergoing is first major revolution, as we start replacing our old incandescent lights with energy-efficient LEDs. Yet, in that same time, we’ve gone from sticking burning candles in a tree to creating massive, computer-controlled—and completely excessive—light displays that are becoming increasingly popular.
If you want to decorate your home like Clark Griswold without having to spend an entire weekend on a ladder in the freezing cold, you can always call Organically Green (631) 467-7999.
Just When You Thought You Were Safe From Ticks
As the weather gets cooler, summer pests like mosquitos and wasps begin to disappear and most people think that ticks also disappear along with the risk for disease transmission once there is a frost and the weather turns cooler, but they couldn’t be more wrong. While some species, like American dog tick and Lone Star tick are not active in fall and winter months. Others, like the deer tick can remain active in their adult stage from fall to spring as long as the temperature is above freezing.
While mosquitoes and other pests either die or hibernate during the colder months. The adult stage deer tick actually begins its feeding activity about the time of first frost (or early October throughout its range), and it will latch onto any larger host (cat to human) any day that the temperature is near or above freezing. With temperatures often hovering above freezing for most of the winter this means the tick danger rarely goes away. If it’s warm enough to go outside, it’s warm enough for ticks!
Typically, the Lyme disease spirochete infection rate in adult female deer ticks is 40-60% in the eastern and mid-western portion of this tick’s range. So, even in the fall it is important to check yourself and your pets daily for any attached ticks, and continue to take precautions like using clothing repellents on you and topical products on your pets.
Spraying for ticks early in the spring and late in the summer can help reduce their numbers and keep your family protected year round.
What to Plant in the Fall
Pumpkin Spice is out and it’s getting cooler. Fall is officially on its way. If you’re wondering what you can plant in the fall, the answer is almost anything. Here are six plant types to put in the ground during the fall.
The cool Autumn air temperatures are easier on both plants and gardeners. The soil is still warm, allowing roots to grow until the ground freezes unlike in spring when plants have to wait for the ground to thaw.
The weather in fall also makes it a prime time for gardening, more sunshine days than in the rainy spring.
Pests and disease problems start to decline as it gets colder. You don’t need fertilizer, either. Fertilizer promotes new, tender growth that can be nipped by winter weather; stop fertilizing by late summer.
The window for fall planting ends about six weeks before your area gets hit with a hard frost, usually September or October. Here are some great plants that do well in the fall.
All spring-blooming bulbs need a period of cold dormancy to bloom. Plant bulbs in fall to ensure a beautiful spring display.
Pansies do very well in the autumn months. By planting in fall, you’ll get two seasons of enjoyment out of these cool-season favorites. Fall is the best time to plant pansies because the still-warm soil temperatures give their roots time to establish.
Many vegetables thrive in cool weather, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabaga, and spinach.
Give your fall vegetables time to grow, often fall-harvested crops should be planted in early August to give them enough time to mature, but by checking the expected time it takes for fall vegetables to reach maturity you can count back from the first expected frost to see if you have enough time to plant said vegies now.
Lettuce, spinach, and other greens with a short maturity time can be planted later in the season. You can extend the growing season by planting them under floating row covers or cold frames that will shield plants from frost.
Tip: Many root crops taste sweeter when they’re harvested after frost.
Fall is the best time for lawn care. Grasses such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass should be fertilized in early September and again in late October or early November to give a boost for earlier spring green-up.
Trees and Shrubs
Fall is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs because the soil is still warm enough for root development. Keep newly planted trees or shrubs well watered until the ground freezes so they get a good start before going into full dormancy during winter.
It’s fine to plant perennials in the fall, especially specimens with large root balls such as peonies, irises and chrysanthemums.
Any fall-planted perennials should be carefully watered until the ground freezes to keep their roots healthy and strong.
IS YOUR YARD READY FOR HURRICANE SEASON?
It is hurricane season yet again, and while meteorologists predict a relatively quiet season this year it is important you prepare your yard for the worst. Here are steps you can take to prep your yard for a serious storm to prevent damage to property and most importantly people.
Do Right Now (Before the Storm):
- Cut back all trees and weak branches that make contact with your home.
- Thin your foliage so wind can flow freely through branches, decreasing the chance that trees/plants will be uprooted.
- Place tree trimmings at curb side on your regular scheduled collection day and follow the 6/40 rule (i.e., each pieces cannot not exceed 6 feet in length or 40 lbs. in weight) and must be clear of any obstructions.
- Containerize your tree trimmings such as pine needles, leaves, twigs, etc. in plastic bags.
- Clean your yard of any items that could become missiles in a storm such as broken lawn furniture, etc.
Once A Storm Warning Has Been Issued:
- Do not cut down trees or do any major yard work.
- Do not begin construction projects that produce debris.
- Do not trim vegetation of any kind. Municipalities will need all the collection vehicles at the ready to remove storm damage.
- Do not place materials at the curb or take materials to the landfill or transfer facility during a Watch or Warning period. Services may be suspended and facilities closed early to prepare for the storm. Loose debris can cause more damage.
After The Storm
- Be Patient. Following a storm a town’s top priority is the collection of household garbage. Uncollected garbage attracts pests and contributes to the spread of disease. Garbage should never be mixed with vegetation or storm debris, which can wait for pick up.
- Please keep all household garbage, recycling, vegetation and storm debris separate!
- Securely containerize all household garbage in plastic bags.
- Never place any debris near or on a fence, mailbox, power line equipment, water hydrants, poles, transformers, downed wires, water meters, or storm drains. Hidden electrical hazards can injure or kill collection personnel.
- Be careful of unlicensed contractors willing to do non emergency tree work in your yard. Many scam artists take deposits and never return to do the work. Only work with licensed professionals.
- If you have an emergency such as a fallen tree on a home or powerlines call the electric company or town.
- If you see fallen branches on electrical wires report it to the electric company. Do not try to remove yourself!
Tree Boring Insects: What You Need to Know
Landscape trees burst to life in the spring, sprouting flowers in almost every color and young, tender leaves that soon expand to create puddles of shade on the lawn. But what does it mean when it’s mid summer and your trees look like it’s still early spring? You might have a problem with tree boring insects.
What are Tree Boring Insects?
Tree borers are a group of insects that lay their eggs on or inside of trees, where the young larvae eat their way through the wood of the trees. There are many types of tree boring insects, but the results are always the same. Tree borer insects cause affected parts of trees to slowly weaken as their chewing severs vital transport tissues. Over time, they may girdle trees or weaken branches making them a hazard of breaking off and damaging property.
The most obvious signs of tree borer insects are the tiny holes they cut into trunks, branches and stems. These holes may be perfectly round or slightly oblong, sometimes a sawdust-like material, called frass, falls on branches below these holes or forms a long cylinder as tree borer insects excavate tunnels.
What Happens When You Have An Infestation
Treatment for tree borers can be difficult if an infestation has already occurred. Prevention is key if your trees are unaffected, but tree borer insects are active nearby. Removing and replacing an infected tree is often the best way to prevent the problem from spreading to more trees in your yard.
For trees that are not infested, or have only a few noticeable holes, protection from borers make come by improving care. It may seem too easy, but borers are attracted to trees that are stressed and injured; pruning wounds, which are a common entry point for the first generation of invading borers, may keep new borers from entering.
In addition to pruning and removal of infected trees, adding mulch around your existing trees and providing them with supplemental water and fertilizer will help to fight off borers and heal from previous damage.
When to call an Arborist
A mature tree can account for as much as 10% of your assessed property value, depending on your market, but sometimes a valuable tree uproots. It may seem like these things happen without warning, but your trees often tell you when there is a problem.
If you think your trees are changing, or you see any of the major warning signs above, they could be “hazard trees” — trees likely to fall and destroy what’s near them — like your house.
This is a good time to call a certified arborist.
An arborist can help save your tree, or let you know if it’s beyond help. For example, bacteria or bugs could be harming your tree, and an arborist’s inspection can diagnose which disease, trauma, or fungus is the culprit. An arborist also can determine if your tree is decaying internally, something that may not yet be obvious.
Aborists can either fix the problem, or calculate the risk of the tree falling and the likely objects it could damage. That calculation will help you decide if it’s worth spending money to keep the tree alive and upright, remove the tree, or just let nature take its course and topple the tree at will.
Inspect Your Trees
- Inspect all sides of the tree, both up close and from a distance.
- Check for cuts in or peeling bark.
- Inspect the tree’s crown for dead wood and brown leaves.
Here are some examples for when you should call a certified arborist:
Trees usually don’t grow straight, and a little lean is normal. But when your tree starts looking like the Tower of Pisa because of poor weight distribution or anchor root damage, it’s likely unstable. This is a good time to call an arborist.
When to call an arborist
- Cracked or heaving soil, especially on the side opposite the lean.
- Exposed roots around the base of the tree.
A tree with multiple trunks, or with splits in one trunk, can be unstable.
When to call an arborist:
- V-shaped or U-shaped multiple trunks are weak points for mature trees. The connective wood where the trunks come together may lose strength — and be more likely to split — with age and when storms occur.
- Cracks that extend deeply into or through the trunk.
Construction is tough on trees. Installing a driveway, putting on an addition, and digging up utility lines puts nearby trees under stress. Construction can damage shallow feeder roots, starving and destabilizing the tree. Construction equipment can scrape tree bark, providing a gateway set for disease and infestation.
When to call an arborist:
- Damaged bark
- Reduced, smaller, or no foliage
- Premature autumn color
- Mushrooms, conks, and carpenter ants at the base of the tree are a sign of decay and rot.
Is Zika on your mind? We’ve got some helpful information.
According to the CDC, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and most recently in the Americas. Because the mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will continue to spread. While many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. To date, there have been no reports of Zika being spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. However, cases have been reported in travelers to the United States. With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase.
So what can you do to keep yourself safe from Zika this season?
The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites. Making your yard a tough place for mosquitoes to breed is a great first step. Remove all pooling water from around your property, and use larvicide in standing water such as birdbaths. Our customers may also choose to contact us to have their property sprayed either on a planned treatment schedule, or only occasionally for specific events.
Going outside your yard this summer? Be sure to:
Protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
When you’re ready to start your mosquito, tick, or flea treatment plan for your yard, give us a call!
Zika Virus in New York
There are a lot of dangerous infections that can be spread by mosquitoes, but currently, the Zika virus is causing serious concern up and down the East Coast.
According to the CDC Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.
Commonly found in South America, the Zika virus has been moving it’s way up the United States and an alarming rate. While there only have been a few cases of Zika Virus in New York. Mosquitoes carrying diseases like West Nile Virus and the Chikungunya virus are still common on Long Island. Organically Green has been on the front lines of fighting the spread of these viruses through mosquito control and tree spraying. Only using family, pet and environmentally friendly pesticides, Organically Green can keep your home safe from mosquito borne illness this summer.
As a Proud sponsor of the Hamptons Classic Horse Show this summer Organically Green is keeping spectators and horses safe by spraying the arborvitae at the Hamptons Classic to keep pests away from the showground.
Spring Garden Tips
As we see the last of the frost we need to start thinking about early spring planting. Here are some ideas for your spring garden.
Pansies – Will withstand late seasons frosts. Prefer cool weather and tend to decline with the onset of warmer weather.
Roses – If necessary, transplant roses as soon as the ground can be worked in late March or early April. Bare-root roses should be planted immediately after purchase. If planting must be delayed, place the bare-root roses in a cool location, such as the garage or refrigerator, until they can be planted.
Sunflowers can be started now in pots indoors or direct sown into garden borders.
Nasturtiums can be sown in pots and modules now. Wait until after all risk of frost has passed to plant in beds.
Finish sowing Petunia seeds under cover this month to ensure the plants reach a good size in time for the summer.
Plant marigolds now in warmth to brighten up your summer bedding.
Radishes – Spring radishes are a cool season crop. They can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in late March or early April. Most cultivars mature in 20 to 30 days.
Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cabbage – Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are cool season vegetables, which grow best in temperatures between 60 and 70 F. However, exposure to prolonged periods of temperatures below 50 F may cause problems.
Lettuce, Spinach, Collards, and Kale – Quality of these plants are reduced with the onset of hot weather due to seed heads and bitter taste.
Onions – Plant onion seeds, sets, and plants as soon as the ground can be worked in spring
Peas – Garden, snow, and snap peas should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in spring. The crop should be mature in approximately 60 to 70 days.
Carrots – Carrots can be sown from early spring to early August. For an early crop, sow seeds in early to mid-April.
Potatoes – Plant certified disease-free potatoes as soon as the ground can be worked in spring. Large potato tubers should be cut into pieces, each containing 1 or 2 growing points or “eyes”. Small potatoes may be planted whole.
How to Spot a Problem Tree
Fallen trees can cause serious damage to property. Here are some tips to help you spot potential problematic trees that are at a greater risk for falling branches or even the entire tree itself.
Start from the Bottom
Check the tree’s base, take notice for hollow cavities or the presence of mushrooms could indicate a serious problem. Move on to checking the ground around the circumference under its canopy. Look for roots protruding up from the ground. Visible roots are not problematic in and of themselves, but if there’s other evidence to suggest that the tree is struggling, then protruding roots might mean that the tree is on the verge of toppling over.
If you encounter a tree that’s missing a long streak of bark along its trunk, it was probably struck by lightning. Being composed mostly of water, trees are excellent conductors of electricity. When lightning hits the canopy, the bolt careens all the way day down to the roots, boiling sap in its wake and creating explosive steam. If there’s damage to one side of the trunk only, the tree might fully recover. But if bark’s missing on multiple sides, it’s likely that the tree isn’t going to survive.
Remove dead branches as they are the first to fall. On deciduous trees, dead branches either have no leaves or brown leaves in the spring/summer. With evergreen trees, look for brown needles and the absence of bark. If you successfully identify dead branches—and if those branches are easily accessible—go ahead and prune. Otherwise, call in a specialist.
When trees have two or more trunks, be sure to look closely at the point where they meet. U-shaped connections between trunks are usually not a problem. A tight “V” shape, however, suggests a weak spot. If you’re worried about a particular tree, you can have a steel or elastic cable installed to keep it from splitting apart in high winds. But to be clear, this isn’t a project for the do-it-yourselfer; hire an experienced pro.
Call in the Pros
If any of the red flags discussed leave you uncertain about the health of a tree on your property, it’s best to call in a certified arborist. Besides having training and hard-earned knowledge, arborists also have specialized tools they can use to make sophisticated diagnoses far beyond the scope of this article.
Winterizing Your Garden
This winter may seem nonexistent, but it is coming and here are some tips to prepare for the coming frost.
Remove any dead leaves and debris from your garden. Pull out any weeds or other unwanted plants. Take special care to place invasive plants — especially the seed heads — in a covered garbage container, not your compost pile.
After tidying up the garden add about three to four inches of compost to the beds. Nutrients from the mulch will leach into the beds during winter rains. The remnants of the compost can be turned into the soil in the spring.
Tender shrubs can be wrapped in burlap or agricultural fabric when hard or prolonged freezes are forecast. Remove the fabric when temperatures warm up to prevent overheating the plant. So far this shouldn’t be necessary. Be careful using plastic because it doesn’t breathe and can overheat your shrubs.
Don’t allow the pump to freeze. Check with garden pond maintenance experts in your area about whether your pump will move water all winter or whether it and the plants in the pond should be removed and stored until winter.
For some plants…just let it grow!
Fresh veggies. Even during snows and freezes, gardeners in many parts of the country can continue to grow and harvest cool-season crops such as lettuce, spinach, beets, and other vegetables by creating a cold frame from inexpensive wire hoops and agricultural cloth.
Fun Facts about Christmas Light Displays
One of the best parts about the Christmas and Holiday season is how wonderfully decorated the neighborhood gets. Whether it is a simple, traditional display or a set up that would make Clark Griswold jealous, it seems that it just wouldnt be the same if this tradition didn’t exist. Here are some awesome and interesting facts about Christmas Lights.
- The First Outdoor Christmas Light Display went up in 1880
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the first successful practical light bulb, created the very first strand of electric lights. During the Christmas season of 1880, these strands were strung around the outside of his Menlo Park Laboratory.
- Early Electric Christmas Lights Were Expensive
The wiring of electric lights was very expensive and required the hiring of the services of a wireman, our modern-day electrician. According to some, to light an average Christmas tree with electric lights before 1903 would have cost $2000.00 in today’s dollars Until 1903, when General Electric began to offer pre-assembled kits of Christmas lights, stringed lights were reserved for the wealthy and electrically savvy.
- The First Light Decorating Contests Were A Marketing Stunt
In 1927, General Electric first used the large, intermediate size base for their new outdoor Christmas light bulbs. General Electric and the various Edison Electric distribution companies sponsored many neighborhood “decorating with color-light” contests in an effort to induce sales of the new outfits. Their strategy worked quite well, as within several years communities all over the United States held friendly decorating competitions at Christmastime.
- The Largest Christmas Light Display is in Australia
In 2014 the display boasted 1.2 million LED lights, on 75 miles of cable in Petrie Plaza mall in Canberra, Australia.
Want the perfect holiday look for your home this year? Organically Green’s expert team can be your Christmas miracle. Call today for more information!
We’ve Been Nominated!
Mums are a great fall flower and will add color to your garden well into the season. Here are some tips to grow mums.
Soil preparation. Mums need well-drained soil. If your yard gets saturated quickly grow mums in raised beds with friable soil for good root growth.
If the soil is too dense, add compost and prepare to a depth of 8-12 inches for best performance (about 1 inch deeper than they were in the nursery pot). Mums’ roots are shallow, and they don’t like competition. Plant mums, being careful with the roots as you spread them.
Fertilizer. Plants set out in spring should get a 5-10-10 fertilizer once or twice a month until cooler weather sets in. Don’t fertilize plants set out in fall as annuals, but plants you hope to overwinter should get high-phosphorus fertilizer to stimulate root growth.
Location. Mums need sunlight to thrive. Plants that don’t get enough sunlight will be tall and leggy and produce fewer, smaller flowers.
Watering. Give mums about an inch of water per week. Avoid soaking the foliage, which encourages disease.
Overwintering. Prepare mums for winter after the first hard frost. Mulch up to 4 inches with straw or shredded hardwood. Pinch off dead blooms to clean up the plant, but leave branches intact. Mums have a better chance of surviving if you wait to prune old stems until spring. As soon as the weather warms, get rid of the mulch to allow new shoots to pop up.
Pests. You may notice aphids, leafhoppers, or spider mites, but they are not likely to harm the plant.
The Hampton Classic Horse Show
This year’s Hampton Classic will take place on August 23rd through the 30th. As one of the largest outdoor horse shows in the United States, and a premier destination for horse people, the Classic is a much-anticipated stop on the summer tour. Now well into its third successful decade, The Hampton Classic Horse Show is in a class all its own, both in the minds of spectators and horse people alike. We at Organically Green are proud to be a sponsor for this event.
These Bugs are Tree Killers
There are many insects that attack hardwood trees which ultimately cause death or devalue a tree in the urban landscape and rural forest to the point where they need to be cut. These are the five most common and destructive tree killers.
#1 – Gypsy Moth:
The moth was introduced into the United States in 1862 and is responsible for the death of millions of trees.
The insect lays visible buff-colored egg masses as leaves emerge in the spring. These masses hatch into hungry larvae that quickly defoliate hardwoods.
#2 – Emerald Ash Borer:
The Emerald ash borer (EAB) is blamed for killing millions of ash trees annually and forcing quarantines on firewood and tree nursery stock in several states.
The EAB larvae feed on the cambial bark. These S-shaped feeding galleries will kill limbs and can ultimately girdle the tree.
#3 – Longhorn Beetles/ Borers:
The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) was first found in Brooklyn, New York in 1996 but has now been reported in 14 states and threatening more.
The adult insects lays eggs in an opening in the bark. The larvae then bore large galleries deep into the wood. They eventually weaken the tree to the point that the tree falls apart and dies.
#4 – Elm Bark Beetle:
This pest is dangerous for the company it keeps. The native elm bark beetle carries Dutch elm disease (DED) a contagious fungus that can destroy trees. While no North American tree is immune to DED, American elm trees are especially susceptible.
#5 – Tent Caterpillars:
The favorite food of tent caterpillars is wild cherry but oaks, maples and many other shade and forest trees are attacked. The tent caterpillar can strip extensive stands of trees of all leaves. The attacked tree’s growth is effected.
Summer is Here!
Enjoy a Bug Free Summer!
Mosquitoes and Ticks can ruin your outdoor summer event. Call today!
This summer, there’s a new contender for “Most Dangerous Tick Bourne Illness.”
Winter is gone and spring is finally here. The flowers are popping up and you and your loved ones are back in the great outdoors. But, before you pop on a bathing suit and start running through the sprinkler, there’s a dangerous new tick borne disease that you need to be made aware of.
The Powassan virus, (named for the region in Canada where it was first identified,) is a rare, but extremely serious tick borne illness that has now been found to be present in our area. Currently, it doesn’t have a treatment or a cure.
Dr. Daniel Cameron, President of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society recently spoke about the disease. He said that if bitten by an infected tick you can get the virus within a matter of minutes, and while the symptoms are similar to Lyme disease, they are more severe.
“The doctor just has to support you during the acute illness and hope that you survive,” Dr. Daniel Cameron explained. “You can get seizures, high fevers, stiff neck. It comes on so suddenly that it’s the kind of thing people go to the emergency room for.”
Powassan now joins other, more common tick borne illnesses already present in our area, including Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Lyme Disease. (For more information about these diseases, their signs, symptoms and treatments, please visit the CDC’s website at:
Monthly spraying regimens are the best way to help protect your family stay safe this summer. Additionally, wearing pants and long sleeves outside, avoiding bushy and wooded areas, checking for ticks, and wearing bug spray are measures you can take to remain safe.
Preventing Late Frost From Damaging Your Plants
This winter has been particularly brutal and seemingly never ending, but as it gets warmer in spring there is still risk for another cold snap that can undo all your hard early planting work. With the warm weather allowing plants to bud earlier this year, follow these tips to keep your plants flourishing even when winter just won’t die.
First bring any potted plants inside, they are the most vulnerable to frost.
Water loses heat slower than air, keeping a bucket of warm water or watering your plants the day before a freeze can help keep them from being damaged by frost.
If you notice that your plants are losing water from their leaves following a freeze, apply water to thaw the soil. The frozen ground will make water unavailable to your plants and could dry them out.
When anticipating a freeze, cover your plants overnight with burlap or a bed sheet to act as an insulation against the frost. To prevent your already budding plants or crops from getting damaged by the tarp, place a coffee can, tomato cage or jar over the plant itself.
Be sure to remove the burlap from your plants in the morning, however, as oxygen and sunlight are essential to their survival.
To assess the damages following the freeze, examine the inside of various buds several days later. If the inside is a dark brown or black, it is likely that your plant has been damaged.
If there is no discoloration, you might just be the first on the block this year with a vibrant flower garden and fresh vegetables.
Chemicals aren’t the only way to control ticks.
It’s cold out now, but spring is right around the corner! When the weather warms up, and the sun comes out, so do pests like ticks. For most people, tick control means an outdoor chemical treatment plan. While pesticides can be an effective tick-control mechanism, what many don’t realize is that landscape design itself can also help control ticks by creating a tick-safe zone around your house and play areas.
Ticks that transmit Lyme disease thrive in humid wooded areas. They die quickly in sunny and dry environments and a well designed, tick-safe landscape layout will take advantage of this fact to keep you, and your family safe.
Here are some simple landscaping techniques that you can use to help reduce tick populations.
• Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edges of lawns.
• Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration to recreational areas.
• Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.
• Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
• Stack wood neatly and in dry areas.
• Keep playground equipment, decks and patios away from yard edges and trees.
If you’d like Organically Green to handle the job for you, give us a call today!
Protecting your Garden in the Snow
This winter, be careful when shoveling, plowing, or blowing snow. If you can’t remember where plantings are located, place posts with reflectors next to the plants. In addition to clearing off sidewalks and driveways, snow should be cleared off of trees and delicate shrubs, either with a broom or a hand held blower. This will prevent cold damage, breaking branches, and other issues that can be costly (or impossible!) to recover from come spring.
Snow or ice sliding off the roof may crush the plants below. If plants are already covered with deep, natural snow, this may cushion the impact of falling ice and protect the plants. If little snow is present, you can protect plants by placing teepee-shaped wooden frames over them.
Natural snowfall or windblown snow seldom result in plant injury. It’s usually the devices we use to remove snow that cause the most damage.
Avoid piling salty snow near plants or on lawns. If this is not possible, use one of the environmentally safe salts such as calcium chloride or an ordinary, inexpensive garden fertilizer, sand, or kitty litter mixed with equal parts of “safe” salt. If you are using salt on walks and drives, keep in mind that this, mixed with the snow and slush that is piled around plants, can leach into the soil and harm roots.
Brighten up your winter garden.
Winter traditionally means the end of your garden, but these are some plants that you can grow to bring color and life to the cold months.
This plant blooms all year and offers beautiful flowers in summer and fall. In winter the thick foliage makes an appealing contrast to the more delicate blooms of other winter plants.
What make these such an attractive winter plant are the winding and twisted branches that add a pleasantly eerie touch to a winter landscape. The branches will require regular trimming to maintain their appealing look, failing in which they will look like an overgrown unkempt tangle of wood.
Holly has always been associated with winter. With 400 varieties to choose from that range from small bushes to huge trees of up to 80 feet, there is a type of holly for every garden and winter landscape. Its bright berries and thick foliage ensure that this is one plant that always catches the eye.
Winterberry is a cousin of holly but loses its leaves in the fall so in the winter you get bright red berries. These berries are also great for attracting birds. The seeds must be planted in the fall in a cold frame and should be transplanted to rich moist soil in the spring. This is a slow growing plant and germination can take 2 to 3 years.
Paperbark Maple’s curls of copper colored bark peel off from all over and make a pleasing sight. The green leaves of summer turn into an eye catching cinnamon shade in the fall.
This evergreen blooms from fall to early spring and its brightly colored rose like flowers offer a striking contrast to a dull winter landscape. The best place to plant them is in a place that gets some sun, but not too much of it and which is protected from strong winds.
Red Twig Dogwood
The plant’s striking red stems are not just attractive on their own, they make a great accent when combined with evergreens. The brightness of the plants color depends on the amount of sun it receives.
Firethorn is a hardy perennial that is an attractive sight all year round. The small pea like berries, which can be either orange or yellow in color, remain long after fall is over.
The Paper Birch Tree
The Paper Birch tree has stunning yellow leaves in autumn and when the weather turns really cold, its white bark offer a striking contrast to a backdrop of evergreens. It is often used as the focal point of Christmas displays.
Another winter plant that is available in a wide range of varieties is Hellebore. They come in a wide range of colors mean that you will be able to find one that compliments the rest of your winter garden.
Trends in Holiday Lighting
With Christmas just a few weeks away it’s time to start thinking about holiday lighting. Whether you intend to have a house that can be seen from space, or are planning a more modest display, the holiday lighting trends for 2014 are sure to have something for everyone.
#1 Bigger is Better
Giant ornaments have been a staple at large, corporate displays and now they are becoming more popular for residential homes. This trend is great for a whimsical ‘toy shop’ look. The prices on these decorations range from the very cheap to the very expensive. These displays are simple to set up and usually don’t require a ton of electricity be used. So if you are the type who wants to be festive, but doesn’t want to spend hours stringing up lights or if you are someone who can’t bare the dreaded take- down in January, these displays might be a good fit for you.
#2 Interactive Displays
Amazing technology is available that allows people to tell holiday décor what to do. It can be great fun and enable people to immerse themselves in the magic of the season . Interactive elements may be found on a Santa set, an illuminated Christmas tree or a holiday light show. Personal messages and lights that interact with music or crowds is a great way for the tech -minded individual to show off their Christmas spirit.
#3 LED lighting
LED lights are energy savers and, every year, more and more people are making the switch. There are so many different styles and colors to choose from, this is probably your best bet for those who want to express their creativity without breaking the bank.
Goodnight, Garden! How to put your garden to bed for winter.
Putting Your Vegetable Garden to Bed
You can postpone the inevitable (that is, winter) for a while by covering your vegetables with old sheets or bedspreads on cold nights, but the declining light and chilly daytime temperatures will naturally bring plant growth to a halt. See how to predict a frost.
• Leave carrots, garlic, horseradish, leeks, parsnips, radishes, and turnips in the garden for harvesting through early winter. Mark the rows with tall stakes so that you can find them in snow, and cover them with a heavy layer of mulch to keep the ground from thawing.
• Pull up tomato, squash, pea, and bean plants. If they’re disease-free, compost them. If any are diseased, either burn them or discard separately. Pull up and put away the stakes.
• Before the ground gets too hard, remove all weeds and debris and eliminate overwintering sites for insects and disease.
• Gently till the soil to expose any insects who plan to overwinter; this will reduce pest troubles in the spring and your garden site will be ready come spring!
• Once most of the garden soil is exposed, add a layer of compost, leaves, manure (if you have it), and lime (if you need it). Gently till into the soil.
• Another option is to sow cover crops such as winter rye to improve your soil and reduce weeks. See our Related Article above on Cover Crops for the U.S. and for Canada.
• If some areas have hopelessly gone to weeds, cover them with black plastic and leave it in place over the winter and into the spring to kill sprouting seeds.
What to Do With Herbs
• Sage is a perennial in most areas and does not need special treatment for the winter. Before frost stops its growth, cut a branch or two to dry and use in stuffing at Thanksgiving!
• Rosemary is a tender evergreen perennial that should be sheltered outside (Zone 6) or potted up and brought inside (Zone 5 and colder) for the winter.
• Thyme is fairly indestructible. A perennial, it will go dormant in the fall, then revive by itself in the spring.
• Parsley, a biennial, will withstand a light frost. In Zone 5 or colder, cover it on cold nights. It has a long taproot and does not transplant well.
• Chives are hardy perennials. Dig up a clump and pot it, then let the foliage die down and freeze for several weeks. Bring the pot indoors to a sunny, cool spot. Water well and harvest chives throughout the winter.
Putting the Berry Patch to Bed
• In early to midfall, prune summer-bearing raspberries, leaving six of the strongest brown canes for every 1 foot of your row.
• Prune fall-bearing raspberries ruthlessly, moving them to the ground after they have borne fruit. New canes will come up in the spring.
• Plant blackberries in the fall and mound up the soil around the canes to prevent hard frosts from heaving them out of the ground.
• Cover strawberry beds with straw or hay.
Perennials and Flowers
• Water your perennials and flowering shrubs in the fall; they will thank you for it this winter.
• Once the ground has frozen hard, cut perennials back to 3 inches and mulch them with a thick layer of leaves or straw.
• If you plan to put in a new flower bed next spring, cover that area now with mulch or heavy plastic to discourage emergent growth when the ground warms up in the spring.
• Before a heavy snowfall, cover pachysandra with a mulch of pine needles several inches deep.
• Move potted chrysanthemums to a sheltered spot when their flowers fade. Water well and cover with a thick layer of straw to overwinter them.
• When a frost blackens the leaves of dahlias, gladioli, and cannas, carefully dig them up and let them dry indoors on newspaper for a few days. Then pack in Styrofoam peanuts, dry peat moss, or shredded newspaper and store in a dark, humid spot at 40° to 50°F until spring.
• Geraniums (pelargoniums) are South African in origin, and there they have a three-month dormant period during winter’s excessive dryness. They need to be kept well watered before going into dormancy.
• In the old days, we had cool cellars with dirt floors that were dark and moist. Our mothers shook the dirt off geranium roots and hung them upside down in bundles. In spring, they were cut back and potted up, and performed nicely.
• If you have a cool place in your house (around 50 degrees Fahrenheit), it is possible to overwinter your geraniums by keeping them in their pots and giving them very little water.
• In spring, bring them into a warm place and water them heavily. When they start to show buds, repot them and prune heavily.
• They will do best in plastic or glazed pots with very good drainage. (You can overwinter geraniums as houseplants without letting them go dormant, but they will be deprived of the rest they like.)
Putting Rose Shrubs to Bed
• You may water roses regularly through the fall; no need to fertilize starting 6 weeks before the first frost.
• Remove any dead or diseased cane.
• After the first frost, mulch plants with compost or leaves to just above the swollen point where the stem joins the rootstock.
• In areas where winter temperatures are severe, enclose low-growing roses with a sturdy cylinder of chicken wire or mesh and fill enclosure with chopped leaves, compost, mulch, dry wood chips, or pine needles.
• Before daily temperatures drop well below freezing, carefully pull down the long canes of climbing and tea roses, lay them flat on the ground, and cover them with pine branches or mulch.
• Protect small trees or shrubs from extreme cold by surrounding it with a cylinder of snow fencing and packing straw or shredded leaves inside the cylinder.
• Inspect your trees. Remove any broken limbs, making a clean cut close to the trunk.
• If you’re planning to buy a live Christmas tree this season, dig the hole where you’ll plant it before the ground freezes. Store the soil you remove in the garage or basement, where it won’t freeze. Place a board over the hole and mark the location so that you can find it if it snows.
Garden Odds and Ends
• Empty all your outdoor containers to keep them from cracking during the winter. Store them upside down.
• Hang a bucket over a hook in your toolshed or garage and use it to store hose nozzles and sprinkler attachments.
• On a mild day, run your garden hose up over a railing or over the shed to remove all the water. Then roll it up and put it away.
• Mow your lawn as late into the fall as the grass grows. Grass left too long when deep snow arrives can develop brown patches in the spring.
• Don’t leave fall leaves on the lawn. Rake onto a large sheet or tarp, then drag to your compost pile in thin layers mixed with old hay and other material. Or, rake the leaves into loose piles and run the mower over them to turn them into mulch for perennial and bulb beds.
• Cover your compost pile with plastic or a thick layer of straw before snow falls.
• Drain the fuel tank on your lawn mower or any other power equipment. Consult the owner’s manual for other winter maintenance.
• Scrub down and put away your tools. Some folks oil their tools with vegetable oil to avoid rust
Container gardening tips
Growing plants in containers can be the perfect solution for gardeners with limited space, and on Long Island, where we can have HOT summers, but super cold winters, it can even allow you to enjoy the beauty of tropical plants year round.
Type of container
Most nurseries offer a huge selection of terracotta, ceramic and plastic pots, but container gardening also offers the perfect opportunity to recycle something from the garage or basement. Watering cans, spatterware bowls, buckets, kitchen canisters, vintage cowboy boots, tires and even an old footed bathtub can all be used as planters.
You’ll want to consider how much weather the pot can handle; an old can that is prone to rust wouldn’t be appropriate in a rainy climate, for instance. Also, consider the size of plantings you’ll be adding; If you are going to grow vegetables, for example, the pot will need to be large enough to hold plenty of water and allow roots to develop.
“Beware of decorative planters that lack drainage holes,” says John Pohly, Colorado State University Extension Horticulturist. “This creates water-logged soil and rotting roots. Research shows that the old practice of placing a layer of gravel in the bottom of the container, to give some room for water to accumulate without saturating the soil, doesn’t really work. If you want to use a decorative planter that doesn’t have a drain hole, put your plants in a regular flower pot and place that inside the decorative container.”
Depending on what material the container is made of, you may also be able to drill or punch holes in the bottom of it. You can also recycle a used plastic milk jug or soda bottle as a pot liner; just punch drainage holes in the bottom with a nail.
You can buy special organic container mix at many garden centers, or you can make your own by amending dirt from your garden for container gardening; simply mix together one part garden soil, one part compost and one part sand. You may also want to add some peat moss, which will help the mixture hold water. To improve drainage you can also add organic perlite, which lightens the soil mixture and has a neutral pH.
What to plant
People grow nearly every plant under the sun in containers. Most annual flowers are well suited for organic container gardening, and their long blooming season makes them ideal candidates for pots.
You can also successfully grow many vegetables in containers; just remember that most will grow best with about six hours of sunlight a day so you’ll need to place them in a fairly sunny location. Look for special dwarf varieties of tomatoes developed just for patios, and compact cherry tomatoes and peppers are also good choices for container gardens.
Lettuce, greens, spinach, herbs, onions and carrots all grow well in pots. If you provide a trellis or vertical support, you can also grow trailing vegetables like beans, peas and cucumbers.
More tips for success
PLANTING: Just before planting, wet the soil mix well; you can do this in a bucket or wheelbarrow, or you can even add water to the bag if you’re using a premixed organic potting soil. Arrange the plants in the pot, add the soil around them, and gently pat it down around the plants. Don’t fill the soil too close to the top of the pot; you want to be able to soak the plants well without water overflowing.
WATERING: Most container plantings tend to dry out quickly and will need very regular watering; during hot spells they may even need to be watered twice a day. Hanging baskets are especially prone to evaporation and should be watered until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot; wait until the soil is barely dry to water again.
During extreme heat or a weekend away you can temporarily put the pots in a tray with standing water, but don’t leave them longer than a day or two or the roots may rot.
FERTILIZING: Flowers and vegetables grown in containers will benefit from regular feeding throughout the growing season. With their promises of giant crops and big blooms, it may be tempting to use nonorganic bagged potting soil mixes and commercial fertilizers, but it’s just as easy to utilize organic growing techniques with container gardening and reap the benefits of pesticide- and chemical-free vegetables and naturally grown flowers and plants.
There are many organic fertilizers available that can safely be used on container plantings; many are fish- or compost-based. Worm castings are also an excellent organic fertilizer for container plants and they are good for indoor houseplants as well, since the mixture is relatively odor-free.
MAINTENANCE: Deadheading will keep flowers looking fresh, and removing dead leaves will help control bugs. One of the best aspects of container gardening is its forgiving nature; if a plant isn’t thriving or starts to wither, you can use a garden spade to carefully remove it and simply plant something else in its place.
When Less is More: Handling an Inchworm Infestation
Every summer, they arrive. Little green worms, dropping from threads, and spinning in the breeze. While one or two of these little insects can seem cute, when they multiply, they can cause real damage to our trees and shrubs.
Inchworms go by many different names, including cankerworms, spanworms, loopers, and measuring worms. Generally reaching one inch in length, they can be any color from white to green or black and are smooth and hairless. To find out if your have inch worms, you can lightly shake plants to check for worms and larvae, or you can carefully examine branches for signs of infection. Infected plants will have noticeable tiny and irregularly shaped holes between the veins.
Having a few inch worms is not destructive to the natural habitat, since many trees and plant life can survive minimal inchworm feeding. However, when the number of inchworms grows, they can become a destructive pest, often damaging vegetable crops and ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers. The inchworm can be particularly destructive once an infestation is present because female moths lay their eggs in both fall and spring cycles.
What do they eat?
The type of foliage the inchworm feeds upon will depend on its species. Some prefer trees and shrubs. These inchworms cause damage on apple trees, oaks, and sweet gums. Other species of inchworm prefer vegetable gardens, and will feast upon almost any vegetable you plant, including tomatoes, celery, beans, potatoes, cabbage, and radishes.
The best type of prevention of an inchworm infestation is making sure your lawn or garden is hospital to the inchworm’s natural predators. Ground beetles, birds, Trichogramma wasps, yellow jackets, and paper wasps all prey upon the inchworm. So feeding songbirds, and installing birdhouses is a great way to get ahead of the problem.
However, if the infestation is large enough to present significant damage, you may opt to hire a professional to take care of the problem. A professional extermination company may use any number of treatment options. Horticultural oils can be applied to trees, and Bacillus thuringiensis for vegetable gardens; oils will smother the worms, while Bacillus thuringiensis will cause the body of the worms to rot, while being harmless to humans. These methods may not work once the inchworm is larger than 1/2 inch, however, and inthat case, chemical insecticides may be needed to control the infestation.