Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow Storm Prep!

We've got what local meteorologists are calling a "historic winter storm" on the way tonight! Remember, these storms can cause loss of electricity, heat, and telephone service and can trap you in your home for a few days. It's important to have ample supplies on hand in your home:
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Battery-powered NOAA weather radio and portable radio to receive emergency information. These may be your only links to the outside.
  • Extra food and bottled water. High energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and canned food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Extra medicine and baby items.
  • First-aid supplies.
  • Heating fuel. Fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a severe winter storm.
  • Back-up heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc.
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke detector.
Be sure to carry a survival kit in your car that contains:
  • Cell phone
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Knife
  • High calorie, non-perishable food
  • A can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sand or cat litter
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Water container
  • Compass
  • Road maps
  • Extra winter clothes and boots
Also, keep your vehicle's gas tank full in case you get stranded and to keep the fuel line from freezing. We're going to have a White Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fresh Christmas Tree Care

When a Christmas tree is cut, over half of its weight is water. With proper care, you can maintain the quality of your displayed trees. Below are a number of tips relating to the care of displayed trees:

  1. Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems.

  2. Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.

  3. Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don't bruise the cut surface or get it dirty.

  4. To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.

  5. Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.

  6. Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.

Prepared by Dr. Gary Chastagner and Dr. Eric HinesleyEdited by the Scientific Research Committee of the National Christmas Tree Association

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How To Preserve Your Holiday Greens

Preserving holiday greens for the month of December is a challenge, especially when we start decorating shortly after Thanksgiving. These products are safe and effective. Using them on your freshly cut branches, stems and Fir Trees will improve their staying power and keep these holiday classics fresh for your home decor.

Wilt-Pruf is an anti-transpirant product designed to protect plants from moisture loss through their foliage. Wilt-Pruf works by forming a clear, protective coating on foliage that helps plants to retain moisture. The coating is flexible and does not interfere with plant growth. Furthermore, Wilt-Pruf is organic and non-toxic, making it safe and favorable to use in many applications.

Prolong is America's most popular tree preservative. It's special formula is an easy, effective way to keep Christmas trees fresher, greener and safer. Prolong causes trees to absorb more water than usual, keeping them fresher, longer. Prolong is not harmful to children or pets and is also great for extending the lives of cut flowers.

Stop by your local Strange's Garden Center to pick up these fail-safe products to encourage healthy greens throughout the holiday season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Poinsettia Alternative!

The cyclamen is a wonderful, colorful plant for the cooler months of the year. They have large heartshaped, fleshy leaves, and bright blooms, usually in shades of red, pink and white. Cyclamen are normally available in the fall and winter months, but you might occasionally find them in the springtime too. They like bright, indirect light and cooler temperatures, no higher than 65 to 70 degrees. Keep them evenly moist and allow the soil to dry out on top between waterings. Twist or pull off the yellowing leaves and spent blooms. Cyclamen like cool, well circulated air. Be sure not to overwater or let it sit in water, as this will rot the bulb. After the plant finishes blooming for the season, the foliage will die back. Place the plant in a cool location and allow the soil to dry. In midsummer, replant the corm with the upper half above the soil line. Choose new soil and a small pot, then put the pot in a warm place to encourage root growth. As the foliage returns, gradually move to a cool place to induce blooming. Cyclamen offer an easy alternative to traditional holiday plants, such as poinsettias. They are the perfect plant for the person who has everything but still wants something!!