"In the woods, we return to reason and faith."

— Ralph Waldo Emerson


Happy Thanksgiving! Include your backyard birds in the feasting. Fill your birdfeeder, and start putting out suet. A special holiday treat for them would be peanut butter spread on a log and hung in a tree.

If you have not yet fertilized the lawn, after Thanksgiving is a good time. Because the grass plants have gone dormant, they no longer need lots of nitrogen to constantly produce foliage. Now they focus on root development. So choose a granular “winter” fertilizer that has proportionately less nitrogen (N) and more phosphorus (P) than growing season fertilizers to feed the roots. As long as the temperature is over 45 degrees, grass roots will grow. When spring arrives, the fertilizer will still be there to kick off the new growing season.

Houseplants need attention as daylight diminishes. Remove damaged or diseased foliage, and check for pests. Reposition them in the house to assure sufficient light. Most need good bright light, but not sun, for several hours daily. Fertilize only those due to bloom soon. The rest will be dormant and happy with what they have now. When the heating system is running, check all plants for dry soil regularly.

Alert: The spotted lanternfly has arrived in our area and has been laying eggs in the bark of our trees and other surfaces in our yards. This is a serious pest and truly effective controls have not yet been developed. Please inspect your tree trunks for vertical brownish, muddy rows of eggs. Scrape them off and put them in the trash.

Emerald Ash Borer news

While our ash trees still face a serious threat from the Emerald Ash Borer, there is some good news. Ongoing research by entomologists is producing some results. Turns out there are lots of our native green ash trees serving as street trees in the arid parts of China. The EAB is there, too, but does not cause serious damage to these ashes because there are also tiny wasps there that go after the borers. Four of these wasp species plus two of our native wasp species have been introduced in several locations here in the U.S. where ash trees are infested. The hope is that they will establish and eventually control the EAB here.

Also, research over time has shown the EAB infestations do not usually kill all the ash trees in an area. Apparently, the pests cannot bore into young saplings. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, they pass by some ash trees. Observers have also noticed that new seedlings are emerging in devastated areas.

Finally, woodpeckers have come to the rescue in some areas. They go after the EAB larvae where they lurk in bark tunnels.

LED lighting

A few months ago, I described the appeal and utility of the small LED solar landscape lighting stakes. What I did not mention was their impact on the wildlife in your yard such as bugs and moths.

Turns out, recent research in California revealed that the light spectrum of the LED matters to your rich population of resident living organisms. It seems that LEDs in the blue and white spectrum cause more disruption for light sensitive species than those in the yellow-green, amber spectrums.

Check out the database that lists various lighting sources and rates their wildlife impact at fluxometer.com/ecological.

Tree superstitions

If you tell your dreams to a hollow tree stump, they will come true.

Dreaming about new trees is a sign of bad luck.

Knocking on wood will avert disaster, especially following boasting.

If you plant a cedar tree in your yard and it lives, you will have good luck.

Burning cedar or sassafras wood will bring you bad luck.

If you prune your tree in the light of the moon, it will not die.

Courtesy: Jim Cortese (jim@tree.com)

For more than 20 years, local garden writer and lecturer Liz Ball has offered helpful information and advice to homeowners on enjoying and caring for their yards and the plants that grow there in her Yardening column. Direct your Yardening questions to her at lizball@aol.com.

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