Post-Christmas Musings

San Antonio Express News
Gardening, Etc
Sunday, December 28, 2003

By Nathan Riggs

It’s the Sunday after Christmas and all through the house, not a trash can is empty and the mouse is full! Ham sandwiches and turkey leftovers abound and the ole Christmas tree is about as dry as San Antonio in summer. There is certainly a lot of Christmas aftermath, but there are a few things to consider as you are out “walking off” those extra Christmas calories.

The time between Christmas and New Year’s at the Bexar County Extension office is usually quiet, but there’s still a world of information available for anyone who needs or wants it.

Consider that dry Christmas tree over in the corner. What are you going to do with it after the decorations, lights and tinsel come off? For heaven’s sake, don’t throw it in the regular trash collection! Put it out to be shredded into beneficial mulch by the City Brush Collection group. It’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through…and it’s free for you to pick up!

Be sure to water your outdoor plants before hard freezes. This will protect their root systems and give them some insulation as well. This holds true for your lawn, too. Consider watering once per month during the winter if regular precipitation does not occur. This will help the root system and its development over the winter. Remember: Just because the grass LOOKS dormant doesn’t mean it’s not doing something down in your soil!

Over the past month, a couple of warm spells have awakened the multitudes of hibernating Asian ladybugs from their winter naps. The resulting swarms of ladybugs indoors and outside on the sunlit sides of homes and buildings have led more than one caller to the Extension office to ask what is going on. It’s simple: The Asian ladybug hibernates. It is the only local ladybug species that does so, and it usually hibernates in the walls and attics of buildings, sheds and other types of shelter. These ladybugs usually don’t cause problems, but can leave orange-colored stains on walls or shades. The orange liquid is a defensive secretion they emit when disturbed. To collect and remove the ladybugs, simply vacuum them up and release them outdoors. Check around your home for any holes or cracks where ladybugs are or may enter, and seal the openings with caulk or weather-stripping.

Finally, we turn to the Internet for a bit of good news. The Bexar County Extension web page has crept a little closer to the pack. We now offer the option of searching our web page by using keywords and a free search engine provided by Google. When you arrive at the Bexar County Extension homepage, scroll down and find the teal-colored box titled “SEARCH THIS SITE!” Next to this box, you will see the Google search box. You can search the Bexar County site or the entire World Wide Web. We’ve had many requests from the public to make our site searchable, and now we have answered the call. Thank you Google and happy searching!

This article was written by Nathan Riggs, County Extension Agent – IPM, for Texas Cooperative Extension in Bexar County. For more information, call 210/467-6575.


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