We have much for which to be thankful

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 2010

Let me be the first to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving on behalf of the Adams County Extension Service. Even though Thanksgiving has gone through major transformations since its origin, we still celebrate this holiday for the same reasons as they did back in 1621 — to give thanks for all things. Keep in mind the first thanksgiving had no cakes or pie, no turkeys with artificial seasoning and dressing. In fact, we know there were no dairy products because cattle were not even domesticated in the new world at that time. Therefore they probably had to make the best of what they had at the time which was likely venison, ducks, geese, fish, berries, lobster and dried fruit. I would also assume water was the beverage of choice at that location at the time.

Therefore it is safe to say we have much to be thankful for that our forefathers never could have even dreamed of. Some would even argue that our abundance of nonessential things to make life easier has made us clueless to just how thankful we really should be. Any way you slice it this week is a chance to be grateful for what you have and to those who have made it possible.

We receive calls everyday usually with direct questions about resolving specific problems. However, sometimes people call just to see what they need to be doing to make things better. So if you are one of the ones searching for something to do, here are some outdoor and indoor things that are good to check on around Thanksgiving.

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Q. Should I make any changes to my house plants in the fall and winter?

A. Like outdoor plants, indoor ones tend to slow down in the fall as temperatures decrease along with the photo period. This means your houseplants will be growing slower so they won’t need as much water or fertilizer. Succulents such as jade plant, sansevieria, and various cacti will probably be content with just one good watering per month. Plants with larger, thinner leaves such as schelffera, Chinese evergreen, and dracaenas will lose water more quickly, but still may not need watering but every 10 days or so. Always check the moistness of the soil by sticking your finger about an inch into the potting mix to see if it is moist. If it is not damp, then you water.

Q. What can be done outside this time of the year to increase the beauty of my landscape?

A. Many people think fall and winter are times to do nothing outside because everything stops growing. But in fact now is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. One of the most important considerations is the ultimate size a plant will be.

Every year I visit countless yards and see problems where homeowners planted a small tree, shrub, or bush and now must deal with the realization they selected the wrong plant for a good location. So my recommendation is study your site and your plant options. Consider the amount of sunlight or shade an area receives and select a species adaptable to those conditions.

Next, determine how much water will be available. Shrubs planted beneath overhangs will receive little rain, and competition from nearby trees lessens available water as well. Plants in low, soggy areas must be able to tolerate having their feet wet. Place marginally hardy plants in locations protected from cold winter winds.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.