Protect pesticides from freezing

Garden Q&A

December 21, 1997

I keep my garden chemicals in the shed. Should I be doing anything to protect them from freezing weather?

Pesticides can lose their effectiveness if left outside in freezing weather. They should be brought inside the home in winter and stored in a locked cabinet.

If you have any leaky containers or products that seem questionable or unusable, call your county or city government to find out how to handle them or dispose of them. You also can call the toll-free phone number on the pesticide label for specific information about the product.

I have many perennial plants that are still, unfortunately, in pots. With all the rainy weekends we've had, I couldn't get them planted. Should I wait until spring?

Your plants are dormant now so you won't get any root growth until spring. But -- to protect the root system -- it would be best to plant them as soon as possible (as long as the ground is not frozen).

If you're not sure where you want to place your plants permanently, bury them in their pots up to the crown in garden soil. Or, cover them completely with leaves to protect the crowns. Plant in a permanent place in the spring.

My neighbor lost two large red oaks this fall, and I've got two white pines that dropped most of their needles. I'm worried that they might die. Is there some new disease out there that's killing trees?

The prolonged drought we experienced this summer and fall takes most of the blame for tree problems.

Oaks are especially sensitive to environmental stresses like drought. But healthy trees that decline rapidly after extended dry periods probably already were compromised in some way.

As for your pines, it is normal for conifers to shed needles in the fall. Drought-stressed trees can be expected to lose even more needles. White pines have a relatively shallow root system and can be damaged by drought. You'll simply have to watch your trees for signs of decline next spring.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 or visit its Web site at http: //www.agnr.umd.edu/hgic.

Checklist

* Still haven't gotten your Christmas tree? Well, hurry up and get it, and hose it off before bringing it inside. This will remove dust, spiders and loose needles. Remove any insect cocoons or egg cases you notice and discard them outside.

* Wash the dust off houseplants to improve plant growth. Also, keep windows clean to increase the amount of light available to plants.

* Bury vegetable and fruit parts, coffee grounds and egg shells in trenches or holes in loose garden soil, or stuff them into compost piles. They will enrich the soil and compost as they decompose.

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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