Seasonally, questions to Extension though phone calls, visits to the office, and via email naturally slow down. It has consistently been colder so virtually all outside activities are done for the season. We do get some late season questions and the start of winter indoor related questions coming in:
Q: How can we prevent rabbit damage in the yard?
A: The absolute best way is to fence your valued plants. Double up on the chicken wire to create openings too small for the younger rabbits and tall enough that adult rabbits cannot reach into to feed. There is also a “true” rabbit fence with rectangular openings that are closer together on the bottom and wider as you move up. Consider fencing out an entire bed rather than constructing individual cages.
Q: I still have spring flowering bulbs to plant, is it too late?
A: Go ahead and plant them as soon as possible, the ground is not frozen yet. While the bulbs will not likely produce any roots, they do need the winter soil temperatures to be able to flower next spring. The flower show may be delayed or uneven in 2022, but back on schedule in 2023.
Q: I had some unwelcome pantry pests last winter and they were tough to get rid of. How can I avoid the hassle this winter?
A: A great timely question. Pantry pests usually show up not too long after the holiday baking season is over. While there are several, the most common one is the Indianmeal moth. Often times first noted with a bi-colored winged moth in the kitchen window or flying around the kitchen light over the table. That means there is a contaminated flour product in the pantry or wherever you store your baked goods. Buy your flour products in smaller amounts that will be used up completely by the end of the baking season. If you do have leftovers, refrigerate or freeze them until they are used in other kinds of cooking.
Q: Our brand-new home has a fireplace. Are there some beginning wood burning guidelines you can share?
A: In general, the better-quality firewood gives off more heat, so oak, maple and other hardwoods are preferred. Only bring in a week’s worth of wood at a time, so it can warm up a bit and but not long enough for any insects that may be present to come out of dormancy and become a nuisance. Seasoned firewood will show check marks (cracks) on the ends and have a grey color. Once you purchase your seasoned wood, keep it that way by covering it outdoors.
About the author: Richard Hentschel’s expertise extends across several subject areas with specialties in lawn care, fruit tree production, woody ornamentals, and home and community gardening. During his 45-year career in horticulture and agriculture, Hentschel became a well-known and respected expert for commercial and homeowner audiences, industry organizations, and media. He retired from University of Illinois Extension in April 2022 with nearly 30 years of service as a Horticulture Specialist and Educator in northern Illinois.