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Gardener’s almanac (Dec. 1)

  • Published Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at 8:19 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at 8:33 a.m.

High and dry – The weather is nice, warming up again, but it’s also frightful in its own way: It continues rainless and snowless. Keep the hoses handy, and use them on your lawns and plants.

Storing garden seed – You can store garden seeds for next season in a Ziploc bag or plastic jar with a lid, Ward Upham of K-State says. The seed should be kept cool and dry and can be stored in the freezer if there is 8 percent or less moisture in the seed, he says. Otherwise, the refrigerator is better, or another place that is between 40 and 50 degrees.

To check to see whether seed is viable, Upham advises placing 10 seeds on a paper towel moistened with warm water and covering them with a second moist towel. Roll up the towels and place them inside a plastic bag with enough holes for air exchange but not so many that the towels dry quickly. Place the bag in a warm place such as the top of the refrigerator. Remoisten towels with warm water as needed. After the first week, check for germination. Remove sprouted seed and check again after another week. Add these numbers together to determine the percent germination.

Be aware of mice – While we try to keep grassy areas tamed in the summer to avoid giving grasshoppers a haven, the same practice is true in the winter, but for mice.

Be especially on the lookout for mouse tunnels around fruit plants, Upham says. “Trunks and roots of apple trees are among the favorite meals for mice,” he says. “There is probably no damage yet. But if we receive enough snow to cover winter food supplies, mice will begin to feed on the lower area of tree trunks and roots. This feeding may be severe enough to girdle tree trunks and kill the trees.

“Mice like to hide in dead grass and weeds around the trees, especially close to the trunks. They will often tunnel near the soil surface and feed on the tree bark. You can check for mice by placing baited mouse traps in PVC or other pipe near your trees. Insert the traps far enough into the pipe so that pets are unable to reach the trap. Check the stations about once a week and reset traps if necessary. Mouse damage can be severe enough to kill trees that are old enough to bear fruit. Clear dead grass and weeds away from your trees and monitor for mice if you are using mulch around your fruit plants.”

Garden events

Museums on the River Shopabout – You can get 20 percent off new memberships to the museums on the river and 20 percent off purchases in the museum shops if you are a member at one of them on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You must have your membership card to get the discounts. Admission is not required to shop in the stores. The museums are Botanica, Exploration Place, Old Cowtown Museum, the Wichita Art Museum and the Mid-America All-Indian Center.

Last night for Luminary Walk – Saturday Dec. 1 is the last night for the Luminary Walk this year at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston. The arboretum will be alight with candles and electric lights, and there will be s’mores over bonfires and other refreshments. The Hesston College Bel Canto Singers will perform at 7 and 7:30 p.m., and the handbell-ringing duo of Kendra Flory and Janelle Flory Schrock will perform at 5:30 p.m. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for students and $2 for children ages 4 to 15. Proceeds help to maintain the 28-acre arboretum.

Illuminations – Botanica’s holiday-lights event is open every night from 5:30 to 8:30 through Dec. 30 (excluding Dec. 24 and 25). Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for Botanica members, and $5 for children ages 3 to 12. Member night is Tuesday, when members pay $5. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at area QuikTrips and Botanica, online at botanica.org, or by calling Kathy Osler at 316-264-0448, ext. 107, or via e-mail at kosler@botanica.org. Member tickets must be purchased at Botanica.

There will be no more lunchtime lectures this year at Botanica. The first one next year will be Jan. 9.

Winter concert – Krista Detor will perform at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains, presenting her Winter Songs with acting troupe Arbutus Cunningham and Friends, at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Reserve tickets by calling 620-327-8127. Appetizers and desserts will be for sale at intermission.

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