LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION 200 YEARS AGO TODAY 12/18/1804

Seven men from the Corps of Discovery go with the Indians to hunt bison that are close to the Fort. The white and some of the Indians return early due to the extreme cold. The captains intervene with Chief Black Cat, who seems to have stolen one of Charbonneau's horses. Baptiste Lafrance, a North West Company interpreter, had falsely told the chief that Charbonneau owed him a horse. Black Cat gives the horse back to its rightful owner.

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WINTER CARE OF HOUSEPLANTS

Winter is quickly creeping into the St. Louis area, and the care of your houseplants becomes critical. Although we grow them indoors, most houseplants are outdoor plants in their native climates. Tropical and subtropical species can be damaged by temperatures below 50 F, but being too warm in winter can also be a problem.
The air in most homes becomes extremely dry as furnaces force warm air through the rooms. It is not unusual for relative humidity (RH) inside the home to drop to 15 percent during the winter heating season. Most houseplants do best at about 35-45 percent RH.

Warm temperatures, coupled with low humidity, can cause plants to lose water quicker than they can take it up. Although the soil may hold plenty of moisture, the leaves may begin to droop and/or turn brown along the edges. Hot, dry, stale air also creates a favorable environment for spider mites to become troublesome.

The most effective way to increase RH for the comfort of both plants and people is to run a humidifier. Grouping plants together on pebble trays filled with water can also help. However, misting plants occasionally with a spray bottle adds temporary moisture but it does not effectively change the relative humidity. Keep all plants away from hot air drafts near heat registers. Ferns are especially sensitive to dry air, so take care to place them in a protected area.
Although some plants may grow more slowly during the short days of winter, dry air can cause them to need to be watered even more frequently than when they were actively growing. Monitor the soil moisture to be sure that plants are getting watered as needed.

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WINTERIZING THE ROSES

Similar to hibernation in animals, roses and other woody plants go through a dormant (rest) period in the winter.

The first step to winterizing roses is to keep them healthy through the growing season. Gardeners should protect roses from insect and disease damage and maintain adequate fertility and moisture. After several killing freezes in late fall, plants become dormant; this is the time to put on the winter protection.

Pick up and remove debris, such as leaves and dead stems on and around the plants to prevent diseases from overwintering. If the soil is dry, give the soil a thorough soaking. Plants underneath overhangs of buildings often are very dry, even during wet seasons.
The most foolproof method of protection is to mound the soil up around the plant to protect the graft union. A 12-inch-high mound--approximately 5 gallons--of soil provides excellent protection. A soil mound will also prevent rabbits from feeding on the stems.
Prepare the plant by tying the canes up with twine, not only to prevent excessive wind whipping but also to make mounding easier as well. Begin by tying twine to a lower branch base, and wind the twine up the plant in a spiral fashion. Save pruning chores until late winter or early spring. Branches cut in fall tend to die back from the cut through winter weather.

Dig the soil for the mound from an area away from the roses, so as not to damage their roots. For further protection, pile additional mulch, such as straw or chopped leaves, on top of the soil mound.
Commercially available rose cones have been used with varying success. Some soil mounding is still advisable--about 6-8 inches to protect the graft union and to anchor the cone. Plants must be pruned to fit under the cone. And it's important to cut slits in the top of the cones to provide air ventilation, because excessive moisture buildup encourages fungus growth. A heavy rock or brick placed on top of the cone will help secure it in place.

In early spring, both soil mounds and cones must be removed as soon as plants begin new growth. Don't forget to remove the twine, and be careful not to injure old canes or new shoot growth.

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GREENSCAPE GARDENS JOKE FOR THE DAY!

In a small Southern town there was a "Nativity Scene" that showed great skill and talent had gone into creating it. One small feature bothered me. The three wise men were wearing firemen's helmets. Totally unable to come up with a reason or explanation, I left.

At a "Quick Stop" on the edge of town, I asked the lady behind the counter about the helmets.

She exploded into a rage, yelling at me, "You damn Yankees never do read the Bible!"

I assured her that I did, but simply couldn't recall anything about firemen in the Bible. She jerked her Bible from behind the counter and ruffled through some pages, and finally jabbed her finger at a passage.

Sticking it in my face she said, "See, it says right here,
The three wise man came from afar"..



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