Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

New England

December, 2011
Regional Report

Erect Teepees to Protect Shrubs

Shrubs growing near a building can suffer broken branches when a load of snow slides off the roof onto plantings below. The best way to protect vulnerable plants from damage is to erect wooden teepees over them as shields. Many garden stores sell folding teepees in a variety of sizes or if you are handy, you can build your own.

Set up Stakes to Guide Snow Removal

Before the ground freezes hard, set up markers along the edges of lawns and gardens to serve as guides and prevent damage when when plowing and snowblowing. Erect screens of burlap if necessary to protect plants, especially evergreens, from forceful blasts of snow from the snowblower.

Grow Herbs Under Lights

Nothing beats the taste of fresh herbs, but they can struggle as indoor plants in the short, dark days of winter. Set up fluorescent grow lights to keep your parsley, rosemary, basil, chives, thyme, and other herbs as vigorous as possible for winter harvesting. Starting with vigorous small plants purchased from a local greenhouse is an easy way to begin an indoor herb garden at this time of the year.

Put out Bird Feeders in Bear Country

Black bears love bird seed as much as the birds do. If you live in one of the many parts of New England where bears are found, wait until December 1 to set out bird feeders, when bears are safely in their dens for the winter. This avoids attracting bears to your yard, which habituates bears to people and can result in bear/human encounters that can be risky to humans and lethal to bears. A bear that has lost its fear of people will often need to be destroyed, or as the Fish and Wildlife folks remind us, "A fed bear is a dead bear." Remove feeders in the spring by April 1. If you feel you simply must feed the birds between April 1 and November 30, bring feeders inside at night and clean up all spilled seed daily.

Protect Trunks of Trees

Sunscald and frost cracking can damage the bark of newly planted or thin barked trees, such as maples and fruit trees. The south or southwest sides of the trunk are most susceptible to the temperature fluctuations that cause the injury. To protect trees, cover trunks with light-colored tree wrap tape or white plastic spirals. Be sure to remove the coverings in the spring.


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