Winter Care of Your Laying Hens

Laying Hens

Keeping laying hens productive through the winter months means keeping them well fed, well watered, healthy, and comfortable. Below is a checklist of management tips that is designed to assist the farmer/grower in keeping their farm flock comfortable. Any stress on the birds could force a molt and the decline or end of egg laying.

- Light: Provide 14 to 16 hours of light per day for your laying hens. There is no advantage to supplying more light than this. A 60 watt incandescent light or 13 watt Compact Fluorescent or comparable LED bulb hung at 7 feet high with a white downward reflector will provide adequate light for a 200-square-foot pen. Place lights on a timer for convenience and consistency. Keep light bulbs clean for light quality and quantity.

- Spacing: Provide two to three square feet of floor space per bird. Birds need ample space for their comfort, reduced stress, and ease of movement.

- Roosting Space: Provide comfortable roosts so that all birds can roost at the same time. Provide at least 6-8 inches of linear roost space per hen. Roosts should be 1.5-3 inches in diameter. Round stock is preferred. Clean tree branches with bark work fine as roosts.

- Ventilation: There needs to be an exchange of air for laying hens to be healthy. This can be accomplished with intake or exhaust fan(s) or natural ventilation. If the smell of ammonia is evident, adequate ventilation is lacking. An exhaust fan with a thermostat is a reasonable investment and works well without causing drafts. Proper placement of the fan is essential for effectiveness. Ammonia tape can be used to monitor and detect high levels of ammonia. Ammonia levels in the poultry house/pen should be kept below 20 parts per million (ppm).

- Check for Drafts: Although you want a good exchange of air in the poultry house/pen, you need to make sure all areas of the henhouse are draft-free. Check for drafts at high points, low points, and at every corner. A technique for checking is to wet your bare hand with water and feel for drafts or use a piece of tissue paper and watch for movement. A candle could also be used to check for drafts, but this method is a bit more hazardous.

- Sanitation: Keep all areas of the pen clean. Remove soiled feed and dirty water immediately. Keep feeders, roosts, nests and waterers clean. Keep bedding (litter) dry and clean. Wet or frozen bedding should be removed and replaced with clean dry shavings. Deep bedding is an insulating factor in keeping the feet of birds from getting too cold. Pine shavings are the preferred material for bedding. Use 4-6 inches as a bedding base. Clean out pens in spring and fall. Then add fresh bedding after complete cleaning and disinfection.

- Warmth: Laying hens begin to slow egg production when temperatures drop below 55 degrees F. Provide adequate warmth for the birds. This can be accomplished through insulating the floors, walls and ceiling with fiberglass matting or styrofoam panels. Protect insulation from bird pecking by covering it with wood or metal sheathing. Consider supplemental heat if birds cannot adequately heat the area with body heat alone. Infrared heaters (powered by propane or electricity) may be the most efficient method of heating the area. Infrared heaters are said to be effective by heating the bodies and not the air. These heaters can be controlled with a thermostat. Consider using a Thermo cube – a device plugged into an outlet into which the heater is plugged. If using a heat lamp, use the red infrared type. Use chains (not rope) to hang lamps at the desired height. Keep a thermometer or sensor inside the pen at bird level to monitor the temperature. Try to maintain a temperature at least 40 degrees F during cold spells. Be aware of any potential fire hazards when using heaters and heat lamps.

- Feed: Monitor feed use through the winter. Compare these records with feed use in other seasons. Supply a 14 to 17% crude protein layer ration so the birds are never without feed. Birds typically need extra feed in cold and freezing temperatures. Avoid making changes in the feed ration. A hand full of “scratch feed” (a mix of cracked corn, oats and wheat) per 10 birds can be broadcast on the litter in the late afternoon. The scratch feed will keep the birds busy and will help turn over the litter.

-Water: Provide ample clean water daily to the flock. Keep water from freezing with specially designed electric heaters, warm bricks placed inside the watering container or frequent changing. Watch for leaks on waterers that freeze. Birds will suffer if they are without water for more than 10 hours. If a nipple watering system is used, consider changing to copper nipples as the plastic nipples might break with freezing temperatures. Birds need to drink water in order to keep warm. Water is imperative for feed digestion and proper metabolism.

- Culling: Remove sick, weak, or unproductive birds from the flock. Be observant of the poultry every day — watching them move, eat, drink, and interact.

- Nesting: Provide adequate nest boxes (1 nest box per 5 hens) and keep bedding inside the nest box clean and dry. Pine shavings make the best nesting material. Change nest material on a regular basis and whenever an egg breaks in the nest.

- Rodent Control:  Keep rodents out by using traps or poisons placed strategically in bait stations. Keep the traps and poisons away from the birds and pets.

- Egg Collection: Collect eggs at least twice each day or more frequently so as to prevent eggs from freezing.

- Frostbite: Birds can get frostbite on extremities (combs, wattles, and toes). Birds should be kept from walking on snow and ice. To help prevent frostbite in small flocks, apply petroleum jelly to wattles and combs.

- Observe Birds: Take time to observe your birds each day. Watch the birds’ behavior around the feeders, waterers, roosts, and nest boxes. Handle a random sample of birds to check combs, feet, toes, eyes, legs color, vent size, and general appearance. When handling, look for signs of external parasites. For general monitoring, consider obtaining and using a wireless video camera to observe your birds remotely for your convenience.

- Weigh Birds:  Randomly select a few birds to weigh. Record the weights and check weekly to make sure birds are not losing weight. Compare general bird weights to egg production. If birds are gaining weight it means they are gaining fat tissue and probably not producing. A bird that is laying heavily may lose a little weight through the winter.

- Dust Bath: Hens naturally clean themselves by dust bathing. A shallow wood or metal box with 3-4 inches of clean sand, wood ash or a mix of sand and wood ash would be a good addition to the hen house or coop for the winter months. Dust bathing helps deter external parasites and can provide comfort to hens. If space allows, a kiddy pool might make a good dust bath container for hens.

- Winter Biosecurity: Designate and use specific chore clothing and footwear when feeding, caring and handling poultry. Liquid disinfectant footbaths can be kept from freezing by using a bit of RV & marine antifreeze in the disinfectant solution. Keep visitors out of your poultry house/pen.

- Predator Pressures: The winter season can bring about an increased predator pressure on poultry. This likely occurs because the number of the predator’s natural prey may be in decline due to cold temperatures, snow cover and natural cycles. Adam Vashon, a certified wildlife biologist in Maine, addresses winter loss to predators as follows: “In general, all wild animals that are not hibernating require additional calories to maintain body condition and core temperature. Therefore, predators must either survive on fat reserves or eat more. Some prey species could be abundant during winter months, but that depends on recruitment and survival of that species in that year. A predator would always be willing to take easy prey. This strategy allows them to conserve their energy and maintain their reserves. If preventative measures aren’t taken, it could be your hen house that provides a predator with their next easy meal. The spring/early summer is likely the season when predator pressures are greatest on a hen house, because that is when predators are feeding themselves as well as their growing offspring.”

Make sure your hen house or coop is secure so as to prevent entry by 4-footed or winged predators. Various methods and techniques can be employed to prevent predator loss. Check with the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services Office in your state for recommended methods.

-Article and images provided courtesy of www.umaine.edu.

Feeding Birds and Other Wildlife

Choosing to feed and watch the birds and wildlife is the fastest growing hobby in our area.  We learned at our last bird seminar that there is no such thing as a fat bird, or that they will become dependent on you for food.  They only get a percentage of their diet from your bird feeder, so do not stress if you go away on vacation!  Black Oil Sunflower seed is the most popular of seeds because it is a decent size seed for all birds, and also as a high fat content. Favorite is a good mix for all birds, big and small. If you want to attract many different varieties of birds, then you should choose to feed a variety of seeds.  We have over 25 varieties to choose from…and that doesn’t include the Suet-Plus_boxmountains of suet we have in stock!  Suet provides a great high-fat option for the birds in these cold winter months.  Place it at least five feet off the ground, and near a tree is preferred. Once a suet cake is discovered, it will disappear rather quickly, so be prepared to go through suet!  We offer many different flavor options, but our best seller is the Suet Plus High Energy.

The greatest benefit you can give a bird, year round, is water.  If you are able to set up a birdbath, with a heater, or even a deck mounted bird bath, would be a great help to our feathered friends!

Robin-bird-on-feederDifferent feeders, will also attract different birds!  Have you ever seen a cardinal at a tube feeder? More than likely not. They prefer to feed on the ground or on a platform feeder. Songbirds like chickadee, titmouse, and sparrow will be found at tube feeders, as well as platform feeders. Take a look at our extensive bird feeder collection to pick the right one for your birds!

Bird houses, squirrel baffles, seed & water make for a most desirable environment for the birds!  Grab a window feeder while you’re here to entertain your cats and kids as well!  Deer&Rabbit-Repellent-jug

Wildlife has had it easy so far with the warmer than usual temperatures.  With a little more snow cover, and cold though, you are bound to see them approach your yard, and home more frequently looking outside of the woods for food.  Deer love shrubs (whether you think they are deer resistant or not!) and will nibble on the bark and buds from young trees.  You can help protect your greenery with spraying a repellent on the leaves, bark and around the shrub or tree.  Liquid Fence is our number one deer repellent, in liquid or granular form.

Wild-Bird-Seed-blockNow that you have protected your plants, you can get back to feeding the wildlife.  We have many options to choose from including whole corn, deer feed with molasses, and wildlife salt and seed blocks.

Stop by Norwich Agway today to stock up on all of your bird and wildlife feeding supplies!

Pets as Presents: A Good Idea?

Pets as presents

You’ve seen it in the movies – sweet little Suzy toddles down on Christmas morning to find her new puppy sitting patiently under the tree with a big red bow around his neck. Suzy squeals, runs to hug the puppy who gives her a big lick on the cheek, and the two live happily ever after.

While it would be great if such holiday surprises always worked out so well, that’s often not the case. More frequently, 3-year-old Suzy, who is too young to know what caring for a pet really means, cries the first time Puppy bites her on the hand while the two are playing. Mom and Dad then pile him up in the car and drop him off at the local animal shelter along with the three to five million other dogs and cats returned to shelters each year.

But according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Senior Vice President Stephen Zawistowski, it doesn’t have to go this way. With some forethought and a sincere commitment, giving pets as presents can be a wonderful experience for the entire family.

Are You Ready for a Pet?

Before you decide to surprise your family with a new pet for the holidays, take into consideration the following to determine if your family is ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a pet:

1.  How old are your kids?

Different pets are appropriate for different ages. For example, your 4-year-old who is pleading for a cat is not capable of taking on the responsibility. “Just because a child begs for a cat or kitten does not mean that they are ready to have one,” says Barb Wills, who operates Cats Haven, a no-kill shelter for cats in Indianapolis, Ind. Instead, says Zawistowski, you might consider a guinea pig, which is easy to care for, likes to be held and rarely bites.

2.  Do your kids really want a pet?

“Children like animals, but not all children really want to have them around the house,” says Zawistowski. Contrary to popular belief, every little boy does not want or need a dog. Just because your little one enjoys playing with Grandma’s poodle does not mean he’s ready or even wants to take on full-time care of a poodle himself.

3.  Have you thought about the cost?

“That’s one of the things people often fail to anticipate,” says Zawistowski. Many people don’t think past the initial fee required to adopt. But, he says, a cat costs about $350 to $400/year and a small or medium dog costs about $400 to $500/year, with larger dogs even more.

4.  Are you committed?

Pets are not something that you can take home, try out and return if they don’t suit you. You’re taking on a commitment to care for that animal for the rest of its life. If your child is a teen, remember that the animal will be with you when your son or daughter heads off to college. “A cat can live to be at least 15 years – we have one here who is 21 years old,” says Wills. “The family has to realize that it is a lifetime commitment with vet visits, supplies needed for its care, with time and love to be spent on the pet.”

5.  Are you educated about what caring for an animal entails?

Don’t forget that an animal’s an animal. That means cleaning up bathroom accidents and vomit, picked at furniture if you want a cat and dealing with other typical animal behaviors. “There are going to be bumps in the road,” says Zawistowski. “Be ready and committed to work through those bumps.”

6.  Don’t get a pet to teach your child responsibility.

If your child fails to be responsible, the animal may be harmed. Instead, says Zawistowski, “It’s a great way of rewarding responsibility.”

Planning the Surprise

OK, so you’ve thought it through, and you feel that everyone is ready and committed. Now what? It’s probably not the best idea to have Fido or Socks waiting under the tree on Christmas morning – and of course, don’t EVER wrap them up, as we’ve all seen done on TV a million times.

Belinda Clarke, a mom living in Evanston, Ill., decided to surprise her mom with a new cat on Thanksgiving. “She was slightly apprehensive at first, since it was sprung on her, but since we had had a cat before (which had died several months before), I knew she would love it,” she says. “And she did – after about two minutes. Now both my parents absolutely love her.”

While Clarke’s holiday surprise did work out, many times the apprehension she describes doesn’t go away. So rather than have to take Kitty back to the shelter or find her a new home, Wills recommends purchasing a gift certificate from the shelter to give to your loved one. (You can also give a Pet Promise Certificate.) That way you still keep the element of surprise, but in case it’s unwanted, no animals are affected.

Another idea, according to Zawistowski – which may be more fun for kids – is to buy a stuffed dog or cat and have it sitting with the gifts. You can purchase some of the equipment for the pet like a carrier, leash or bed and have the stuffed animal all decked out in gear. Then you attach a note (or Pet Promise Certificate) saying everyone will go together to pick out their new pet after the holidays.

Bringing Home Your New Family Member

Before you go pick up your new pet, get your family involved in deciding what type, size and breed of animal you’d consider. Take a trip to the bookstore or library, and read up on which breed’s characteristics might fit in best with your family.

Once you’ve got an idea what you’re looking for, where should you go? An animal shelter. According to the ASPCA, each year millions of dogs enter shelters, yet of the approximately 59 million owned dogs in this country, less than 20 percent are shelter adoptees. By adopting at a shelter, you’re giving a homeless pet a new chance at life.

But there are other great reasons for going to a shelter. The cost is low, and there are often discounts on spaying and neutering. “They’re in the business to help animals have good homes, not to make money,” says Zawistowski. They also have a good selection of pets and knowledgeable staff to make sure you’re getting the right animal for your family.

Zawistowski also suggests logging on to PetFinder.com, either at home or at the library, which allows you to search more than 4000 different shelters by breed, location, size and more for animals up for adoption. The whole family can get involved, looking at pictures and profiles to find the perfect pet.

“You can turn this whole experience into an extraordinary experience for the kids,” says Zawistowski. “It’s fun to surprise, but it’s as much fun to have kids be a part of the process.”

When you’ve done it right, your child will likely end up with a longtime friend and companion. Says Zawistowski, “A child who can have a pet, it can be one of the most magnificent parts of their life.”

Age-appropriate Pets

Use the following guidelines when choosing pets for your children, as provided by the ASPCA:

Under 3 – Focus on introducing Baby to your current pets. It’s not appropriate to bring in a new pet at this point.
3 to 5 – Guinea pigs are a good choice, as they like to be held, seldom bite and will whistle when excited or happy. Your child can help fill the water bottle or food dish.
5 to 10 – Choose shelf pets like mice, rats or fish. Kids can help clean cages with adult help, though you should always check to ensure that pets have food and water and cages are secured.
10 to 13 – Your child is now ready for the responsibility of a dog, cat or rabbit. Your child can help feed the pet, walk the dog, clean the rabbit cage and clean the cat litter, but you should always check to be sure pets have everything they need. Participation in dog training classes is an excellent learning opportunity for children.
14 to 17 – Your child may have more activities competing for his time and less time to spend with a pet. Birds or aquariums are a good choice. Remember, you will have the pet once they leave to go to college.

-Article and images provided courtesy of www.petfinder.com.

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Your Pets

Cold WeatherExposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pet can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice:

-  Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes insides, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snowballs from between his foot pads.

-  Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging of ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

-  Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals- and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.

-  Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin, If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.

-  Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.

-  Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spill from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

-  Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in winter time. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.

-  Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

-  Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

We all love our pets as parts of the family, so let’s make sure they are safe, happy and healthy this winter. In addition to caring for them, be sure to spoil them as well this holiday season! Shop at your local Norwich Agway to treat your furry friends to a new bed, new toys, and much more!

*The following article and images were provided courtesy of www.aspca.org.

How to Grow Herbs Indoors

Grow Herbs Indoors

Many kitchen gardeners love the convenience of fresh herbs at home, and what could be more convenient than an indoor herb garden? Even if you live in an apartment or condo without any outdoor space, you can grow herbs indoors. The ideal setting for an indoor herb garden is the kitchen, where you can snip fresh herbs and use them in dishes without skipping a beat. If you don’t have a spot in your kitchen, though, you can still grow herbs in any sunny room. Here’s how:

Find the best spot for an indoor herb garden.

To grow well indoors, herbs need as much natural light as possible. Place them in a sunny spot near a window where they’ll get at least 4 hours of sun daily. Windows that face south or southwest are your best shot at sunlight, though east- or west-facing windows also will do. North-facing windows are not bright enough.

If you’re not sure whether a spot gets enough light, try this test. On a sunny to partly sunny day, turn off all lights and periodically check on the natural sunlight. How much sun does the spot get throughout the day?

Give indoor herbs good drainage.

The best way to ruin a tabletop or windowsill is to let a potted plant drain on it. Likewise, the best way to ruin most herbs is to let them sit in water so the roots will rot. Be sure to use a saucer, liner, or drain pan under the pot to catch water and protect your surface. A clay saucer lets moisture pass through, so opt for plastic, rubber, or metal instead.

Clay pots help with drainage, but they can dry out quickly. If you live in a dry climate or are growing herbs indoors during winter, when furnace heat causes homes to get especially dry, try a glazed or plastic container that won’t dry out as quickly as clay.

Use a premium potting mix for containers to pot your indoor herbs. And by all means, be sure your pots have drainage holes!

Indoor herbs are happy with typical indoor temperatures.

Many cooks grow herbs indoors during the winter when it’s too cold outside or too wet to dig in the dirt, but you can grow herbs inside any time of year. Indoor herbs prefer the same temperatures that most people do—around 65 to 70 degrees F—so if you’re comfortable, they probably are. At night, temperatures near a window may drop to 55 or 60, but most herbs like that, too. Keep foliage from touching glass to protect from getting nipped by cold.

Basil is trickier. Many kitchen gardeners yearn for basil in their indoor garden. If you have plenty of sun and warmth indoors, basil should thrive, but don’t keep it on a cool windowsill. Basil leaves will droop and fade after a short time in cool air. It prefers indoor temperatures in the 70s day and night.

Remember that the air next to a window will be cooler in winter (or hotter in summer) than your average indoor temperature, so adjust your plants accordingly. Dry air, whether from air conditioning or heating, is hard on most herbs, so if you can give them a weekly shower in the sink, they will be happier.

Indoor herb plants will probably stretch and be spindlier than plants in the outdoors, but they will still give you plenty of fresh clippings. Fertilize with Herb, Vegetable & Flower Plant Food about once a month if you are harvesting leaves regularly.

-Article and image provided courtesy of bonnieplants.com

To get the best deals on all of your fall gardening needs, be sure to check out our latest sales flyer!

Tips For Do-It-Yourself Leaf Removal This Fall

Do-it-yourself leaf removal

Q: I’m debating whether to invest in some high-quality equipment to help pick up the leaves in our yard this fall, or hire a pro to tackle the job. How much would I need to spend on tools if I go the DIY route?

A: The problem with hiring a landscaper to do your fall leaf cleanup isn’t necessarily the $250 to $500-plus price tag, it’s that this is not a once-a-season job. In many regions of the country, autumn lasts weeks and weeks, so it takes a handful of cleanups to keep your property neat and tidy. (This is especially true if you have a neighbor who waits until absolutely every branch is bare before he’ll lift a rake, ensuring that his leaves continue to blow onto your lawn until the first frost glues them to the ground.)

The good news is that do-it-yourself leaf removal doesn’t have to be a blister-raising, hamstring-stressing effort. With the right tools, the leaves can be gone before the first afternoon football game kicks off. Here’s what you need to make that happen.

Lawnmower: Throughout the spring and summer, setting the mower to maximum height is one of the best things you can do for your lawn’s health. But come fall, drop it down as low as it’ll go without scalping the turf. Short grass gives leaves less to get caught on as they drift around the neighborhood. It also means the mower will vaporize any leaves that have already fallen (assuming a light coating). Use a mulching mower—meaning the kind without a bag that pulverizes clippings and drops them back into the turf to feed it—such as the Toro 20370 ($309 at Home Depot).

Leaf Blower: Raking is hard work, but so is using a wimpy hand-held leaf blower. The typical plug-in version isn’t powerful enough to extinguish a birthday candle, never mind move a pile of damp leaves—or a single well-nestled acorn. If you’re of strong enough body to rake, you’re probably of strong enough body to handle a gas-powered backpack blower, such as Husqvarna’s top-of-the-line 356BT ($439 at amazon.com). These machines have flexible hoses and variable speed triggers, so you have plenty of power to remove those leaves stuck in your azaleas and also a gentle enough touch for cleaning up around a screen porch without sending dirt inside. (Just please wear ear protection, because even this quieter-than-most version is quite loud.)

Tarp: Don’t try to transport a big pile of leaves all the way to the woods for disposal- or the curb if your municipality picks them up with a vacuum truck— using a blower, not even a backpack one. Instead, rake or blow them onto a tarp and drag them to their destination or, better yet, blow them onto the EZ Leaf Hauler, $40 from plowhearth.com, which has three sidewalls to help corral and relocate large piles.

Bagger: If you need to pack your leaves into brown paper bags for municipal curb pickup, check out the Leaf Chute ($9 at Lowe’s or Home Depot). It’s a low-tech, three-sided plastic tube that props open the empty bag and has a wide mouth for easy loading. Once the bag is full enough to stand on its own, remove the chute and pack in as many more leaves as you can stamp down.

Your Kids: Leaf pickup is an ideal chore for the young people who are eating you out of house and home. Start them with rakes—and quality, well-fitted work gloves—and let them learn the old fashioned way. Then, once they’re capable rakers, understand the basics of the job, and are ready for power tools, let them grab a hold of that sweet new blower.

Be sure to visit Norwich Agway today for all of your fall landscaping needs including rakes, seeding mixture, landscaping stone, and much more!

-Article provided courtesy of www.time.com/money/

3 Easy Steps For Planting Flower Bulbs

planting flower bulbs

-Tips for planting bulbs from Longfield Gardens; premium online bulb source.

Fall is planting time for spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and alliums. There’s nothing difficult about planting bulbs and you can plant dozens of them in just a few minutes.

Spring bulbs are always the first flowers to bloom each spring,” said Hans Langeveld, co-owner of Longfield Gardens. “You plant them in fall and then forget about them until spring rolls around and your garden is filled with flowers that are ready to bloom.”

Langeveld assures gardeners that creating a colorful spring garden requires just 3 easy steps: choosing your bulbs, knowing when to plant, and following some basic planting instructions.

New Bloom Time Infographic

“There are a lot of bulbs to choose from when you are looking to make selections,” says Langeveld. “Our new infographic helps gardeners have success with that process, too.”

Longfield Gardens’ new infographic divides spring bulbs by bloom time — very early, early, mid and late. Choosing a few bulbs from each category ensures a garden that will be filled with color for 60 days or even longer.

Best Time for Planting Flower Bulbs

“You want to get the bulbs into the ground at the proper planting time for your region,” Langeveld said.

As a general rule, spring-blooming bulbs can be planted anytime before the soil begins to freeze. But bulbs will benefit from having a few weeks to establish roots before the ground is frozen.

Gardeners can reference this map for recommended planting times. Light purple areas should plant bulbs from September to October; medium purple from September to November and dark purple areas should plant between October and December.

Planting is as Easy as 1-2-3

Choosing a good planting location is important. “Bulbs will grow almost anywhere,” said Langeveld. “They will do best in soil that drains well.”

The planting part is easy and the same instructions can be applied to all types of bulbs:

  1. Dig a hole 3-4 times deeper than the height of the bulb.
  2. Set the bulbs into the hole, following spacing guidelines.
  3. Cover bulbs with soil and water only if the soil is very dry.

And of course, fertilizer made for bulbs, such as Bulb-tone, are highly recommended by Espoma. Remember when planting bulbs to avoid the temptation to plant them in single rows. For the most natural look, group them in a pyramid, rectangle or  circular shape,” Langeveld said.

-Article and images provided courtesy of www.espoma.com.

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planting flower bulbs

Rescue Tomato Plants for a Fall Harvest

Rescue Tomato Plants

Do you live in a region with a long growing season? Are your tomatoes looking a little rough? Don’t give up quite yet. You might still be able to rescue tomato plants and enjoy a fall harvest.

First, look carefully for small sprouts of healthy green foliage and maybe a few blooms and small, green tomatoes. See any? If so, give your plant a second chance.

Here’s how to rescue tomato plants. (This technique is especially successful for early-maturing varieties, such as Early Girl, and for gardens in zone 7b and south, where tomatoes enjoy a long growing season.)

     -Trim off every dead stem and leaf; be careful not to cut any main stems leading to new growth. Put the dead material in a bag and get it out of the garden to avoid spreading disease.

     -Rake away old mulch and discard it, too.

     -Water thoroughly at the base of the plant; don’t wet the remaining foliage.

     -Give plants a boost with a liquid plant food such as Bonnie Herb, Vegetable & Flower Plant Food. Then sprinkle a little timed-release or organic granular fertilizer around the base of the plant (according to the rate on the label).

     -Refresh with new mulch.

     -Spray the foliage and stems with hydrophobic oil of Neem, which acts as a fungicide, insecticide,

Rescue Tomato Plantsand miticide. You’ll have to read the fine print on the label to find this name, but it should be in the organic product section of your favorite garden center. Its multiple purposes and natural source fuel favor among gardeners. In humid climates, you may also need to use a spray of copper or Daconil, which are fungicides that fight many tomato problems.

Now keep the plant watered; wait and see. By now, your plant has a well-developed root system, so if it is still healthy, you may be surprised at how quickly it fills back out and yields a new crop of tomatoes for fall. Your tomato has until the first frost to ripen its new crop and will be a little slower in the cool days of fall.

How has your vegetable garden grown this year? We’d love to hear from you! Please post your questions or comments in the box below or contact your neighborhood Norwich Agway today!

-Article and images provided courtesy of www.bonnieplants.com

How to Prepare Your Flock for Molt

MoltReady or not, molt is coming…the dropping feathers, the lessening egg production, the embarrassment of a flock who’s in a full blown molt. We know that molting is a natural process, but what if anything can you do to help your birds get ready to go through the annual loss and regrowth of their feathers? Can you help them prepare and get through the process faster or more easily? It turns out you can – here’s how:

1. Start Now: If you do not use supplemental light in your winter coop and your hens are 18 months or older, chances are good that one or all of your hens will experience molt in the coming months. Preparing for this transition now will help you stay ahead of the curve.

2. Feed Appropriately: Now is the time to dial up the protein and cut back on the treats. A higher level of protein is required in birds who are molting so that they can replace those protein-rich feathers. Treats like scratch and straight grains dilute protein content and should be avoided, or fed at no more than 10% of the birds’ total diet. NatureWise® Feather Fixer™ from Nutrena®is a feed designed specifically to help your birds get through molt quicker. It has elevated levels of protein as well as a mix of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that help maintain healthy skin and develop strong and beautiful new feathers. Start to feed Feather Fixer™ at least 30 days in advance of anticipated molting for maximum benefit to your birds.

3. Clean the Coop Thoroughly: This is a great time to get you coop and run prepared for winter by giving everything a thorough cleaning and disinfection. Include nest boxes, perches and cracks and crevices in your cleaning plan. Having your facility as clean as possible will help reduce the bacteria and chance of infection for birds with bare skin due to molt.

4. Check For Creepy, Crawly Critters: Because molting affects your birds’ feathers, it is important to make sure that molt is the only challenge that is presented for feather regrowth. Parasites like mites and lice will affect feather quality and will be an added stress on birds who are molting. Examine your flock and their housing for any parasites and treat accordingly, repeating treatment as necessary.

5. Monitor Aggressive Flock Mates: If you have a flock member that has had ahistory of being a bully or acting in an agressive manner, you may want to take this opportunity to decide whether or not the bird should be kept in the flock or not. Tender, exposed skin and blood filled pin feathers can become prime targets for aggressive birds.

6. Alert the Neighbors: If you are in the habit of giving away or selling your eggs to neighbors, friends and family, you may want to alert them as soon as you see the drop in egg production that usually goes along with molt. They’ll appreciate being given a heads up that they’ll need to source their eggs elsewhere for a while.

-Article and images provided courtesy of scoopfromthecoop.nutrenaworld.com

Hydrate Your Hound for Health

Have you replenished your dog’s water bowl today?Hydrate your hound

Water nourishes, cleanses, and hydrates all living creatures on earth, including our canine companions. Dogs, like humans, are made up of nearly 80 percent water. Without enough of it, they can suffer — or worse, notes Cynthia Otto, DVM, PhD, who is board certified in veterinary emergency and critical care and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of veterinary medicine in Philadelphia.

“Just like people, most of a dog’s body is made up of water,” says Otto, “And so it’s absolutely essential for every function of his body. A dog can go a long time without food, but without water he’s not going to survive.”

Just how much water does a dog need?

It all depends on her activity level, size, age, and the weather, but in general, an average dog needs to drink between 8.5 to 17 oz. of water per 10 lbs. (55 to 110 ml. per kg.) per day, according to Otto. To translate: A 50 lb dog needs between 42 and 84 oz. of liquid refreshment to stay happy and hydrated — or 1.25 to 2.5 L per day for a 23 kg. dog.

“If he’s active, he’ll need even more water,” Otto advises. A dog that’s dehydrated, or in need of water, may have sticky gums, or his eyes might look a little dry, adding, “It depends on how fast he loses water, but as dehydration progresses, the dog may lose his skin pliability,” which is the skin’s ability to slip back into place when pinched. Adds Otto, “That’s a really concerning sign of dehydration.”

Dog guardians can manage mild dehydration cases themselves, Otto says, but they’ll need to seek emergency care for a pet that’s losing water rapidly or showing severe symptoms. “Anytime you have a dog that’s dehydrated, you have to figure out why,” she advises. “If you went out for a walk and his gums started to get a little dry, you can address that. But if the dog is getting dehydrated because he’s vomiting or has diarrhea, he needs prompt attention.”

As the summer’s dog days turn up the heat, ensure your best friend stays happy, healthy and hydrated by boning up on your knowledge of why water is so important.

1. Water helps dogs function

Water facilitates every metabolic process that occurs in a dog’s body, Otto says. The wet stuff helps your pet digest food, think through an agility course, breathe in fresh oxygen, and pulse blood through his veins.

“Blood is mostly water,” she says. “Getting nutrients to the body requires water. Your brain and muscles need water to work well. Water is the heart of everything.”

2. Water flushes toxins

As water flows through your dog’s body, it transports beneficial oxygen to thirsty cells while clearing harmful toxins from her system, Otto says. Without water, the exchange doesn’t occur, and those toxins could build and do damage to vital organs, including the dog’s heart and kidneys.

“Water keeps the toxins cleared from a dog’s system,” she says. “If he did not have water circulating through, carrying the toxins and eliminating them in his kidneys, the dog would absorb them.”

3. Water regulates body temperature

Dogs use water to keep cool in more ways than one. Besides drinking it from their bowl or diving into a kiddy pool, dogs keep themselves comfortable by panting — which means they’re exhaling and releasing water through respiration, Otto says.

“That’s important to remember for active dogs, and when the weather is hot,” she says. “When dogs pant, they cool themselves, but they’re doing that by losing water through their tongue.”

4. Water helps dogs’ sniffing power

Water also keeps a dog’s nose moist and able to pick up the scantest scent, Otto says, as well as perform any working or sporting duties on the day’s agenda.

“A search-and-rescue dog that isn’t hydrated and isn’t 100 percent might get injured or not work as well,” she says. “His nose needs to be hydrated for him to smell, for instance, so he might not be able to do his job. Or if we’re talking about an agility dog, he wouldn’t have the speed to compete.”

To ensure your active dog drinks enough water, Otto encourages pet parents to provide a constant supply of fresh water, whether at home, on the trail or in the field. For those with finicky drinkers, she suggests adding a commercial flavor or broth to the water to make it more appealing.

They may also try to make drinking fun for their pets. “Some dogs really like to drink out of water bottles,” she advises. “And some like ice cubes when it’s really hot out. Just make it fun sometimes.”

This summer, keep your canine companion hydrated. His health and happiness depend on it. And don’t forget to stop into Norwich Agway for continued sales on everything you need for your furry friends!

*Article written by Wendy Wilson and provided courtesy of www.cesarsway.com.

 

 

Berry Good Advice for Gardeners

Let’s run through a berry quick overview to help you decide which berry to grow.

StrawberriesBerry

Strawberries are perennials (they come up every year). With so many varieties, there’s sure to be a strawberry that thrives in your region. Plant in early Spring. You can also grow them in a container. Obtain plants from your favorite local garden center; they know which varieties do well in your area. Space plants about 18″ apart. Bury the roots, but not the center crown – it needs lots of light and fresh air and add mulch to retain moisture and discourage weeds. Expect ripe berries about 30 days after the blossoms are pollinated by bees. Strawberries multiply by sending out “runners” or long vine-like shoots.

Raspberries (and Blackberries)Berry

Again, get healthy, vigorous plants from a local garden center. Plant in early Spring, spaced about 3 feet apart. Because raspberries send long canes upward as they grow, they will need support. Plant them next to a fence or create a simple support alongside the row with some stakes and wire. Feed raspberries and blackberries in the Spring and Fall with a high-quality, organic plant food like Holly-tone. Water at a rate of about an inch per week and spread organic mulch three to four inches deep around plants. Raspberries ripen Summer through Fall and once they get going, raspberries can produce fruit for years – maybe even indefinitely.

BlueberriesBerry

Besides being delicious, blueberries are just what the doctor ordered – they’re loaded with healthy antioxidants. Blueberries require soil that is very acidic. You can easily increase the acidity of your soil with safe, non-toxic Espoma Soil Acidifier. Blueberry plants come in high bush, low bush or rabbit eye varieties. Space them 6, 2 and 15 feet apart, respectively. Plant in early Spring. Set each plant slightly deeper than it was in its pot. Right after planting, spread a three-inch layer of organic mulch over the ground. Apply two inches of water weekly. Blueberries ripen mid to late Summer.

No matter which berry is your favorite, all of them like rich, well-drained, acidic soil (very acidic for blueberries), full sun, organic mulch and about 2” of water per week. Even if you haven’t decided which berry to grow yet, getting started is as easy as one-two-three….four and five, too.

  1. Select a growing area with full sun
  2. Work the soil 8 to 10 inches deep and add in Espoma Organic All-Purpose Garden Soil
  3. Mix in lots of rich organic compost- especially if you have sandy or clay soil
  4. Feed with a high-quality organic plant food in the area around the root zone, such as Espoma Holly-tone®.
  5. Pick when ripe and bursting with flavor- and enjoy!

 

That covers the basics – but there is one more thing. Remember, you’re not the only one who likes berries. You can keep birds away by hanging shiny objects like foil strips or old CDs nearby. When it comes to neighbors and family, you’re on your own.

 Visit us at Norwich Agway today for all of your “berry” important questions and needs!

*Article and images provided courtesy of www.espoma.com

How to Build a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Today it is more important than ever to make a place for pollinators in our urban and suburban gardens. Their habitats are dwindling and so are their numbers. You can help save pollinators and have a more beautiful garden at the same time!

How to Build a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

build a pollinator-friendly gardenPick a sunny site. Insects need to warm up their bodies to be able to fly well. They like to perch on warm rocks in the sun.

Plant groups of the same plants so pollinators have an easier time spotting the flowers from a distance.

Plant natives that bloom at different times of the year so there is a steady supply of nectar and pollen.

Provide food sources, also called “host plants” for caterpillars to eat. Although adult pollinators generally thrive on flower nectar and/or pollen, during the larval stages they need leaves to eat.

Provide sites and materials for nesting and overwintering. Create piles of sticks and leaves for wildlife to take cover in. Evergreen trees and shrubs provide shelter from the elements year-round. You can even build nesting boxes for bees and bats.

Provide water, birdbaths are great. A shallow dish filled with marbles and water give the bees and butterflies a place to land safely for a drink.

Avoid using chemicals in your garden and on your lawn. These products can kill beneficial insects in both their larval and adult phase.

Reduce lawns, they have high water and maintenance requirements. Lawns are sterile environments that do not support native insect populations.

To see the entire brochure on building a pollinator-friendly garden, click here!

-Article, images and brochure provided courtesy of American Beauties Native Plants

Catmint or Lavender: Which Makes the Perfect Purple Edge?

Catmint or lavenderWhether you have visited the south of France or just seen pictures you know how seductive those mounded purple rows of lavender can be. But the pictures don’t even tell half the story, the scent of lavender in the air on a hot day in July is simply the essence of summer.

I have a rather odd shaped driveway that makes a sharp right as you get to the top and make your way into the garage. The transition between the asphalt driveway and the gardens that greet me at the top of turn have always stumped me.  It has a particular set of challenges as on one side there is the home of the annual snow plow dumping ground (which is on top of a perennial garden) and on the other there is a country version of a hell strip – the area between the asphalt and a rock retaining wall.

About 8 years ago I planted a lavender hedge on both sides – hoping to add the beauty and scent of the plant to my landscape. It sort of worked….until 2 years later the lavender on the snow mound side completely died over one winter. I lost 20 plants in one fell swoop. While I have never really (for sure) gotten to the bottom of why this happened, my suspicions lie in a winter snow melt that lasted too long and caused the plants to have wet feet for longer than they could tolerate.

But now that I had a one sided driveway (because I had no problem on the non-snow mound side) I needed a plan to bring back the glory of two-sided purple haze. Fearing a repeat catastrophe, I opted to replaced the lavender with Catmint and left the (still happy) lavender on the hell strip side – and the plan is working!

Some in-depth plant studying reveals why this plan worked:

       -Lavender doesn’t like wet soil.
       -Lavender also is evergreen and doesn’t die back (making it an easy target for the snowplow              who piles it on)
       -Lavender doesn’t like fertile soil (so the downhill side of the driveway, which has an edge that             tends to be a trap for leaves and rotting debris, is not a great place.

Conversely-

       -Catmint is much more tolerant of wetter soils.
       -It also doesn’t mind a little fertilization every once in a while.
       -And it dies back in the winter leaving nothing for the snow plow to catch and in dry winters                 nothing for the wind to whip.

But there are a few other things to consider here. I laid out this design about 9 years ago and since then, there have been substantial improvements in both Lavender and Catmint.  Catmint used to have problems with maintaining its mounded shape – often falling open in the middle and making it a less viable sub for lavender. Newer varieties, however, like Nepeta ‘Cat’s meow’ doesn’t have this problem.   Also, many lavenders that were on the market 9 years ago had a tendency to become woody and gnarly if not regularly pruned but improved varieties like Lavandula ‘Sweet Romance’ and others are less inclined to have this issue.

So if you are looking for the perfect purple haze which do you choose…catmint or lavender?  In my case, the answer is both. Please share in the box below which one you’ve had the most success with!

-Rochelle

*Article and images provided courtesy of Proven Winners

Plant Tomatoes Deep, Deep, Deep!

Plant Tomatoes

Cover the stem up to the plant’s leaves. You can even cover the first few leaves with soil. Roots will grow along the buried stem to make the plant stronger.

Each Bonnie tomato label urges you to plant tomatoes deep so that a full 2/3 of the plant is underground. That means that if you buy a 10-inch tall plant, all but the top three inches is buried. Why? Because the plant will have a better, stronger root system. Better roots mean better tomatoes.

We know, we know. This goes against everything you’ve ever heard about “don’t plant too deeply or you’ll kill the plant.” Tomatoes break that rule. They sprout roots along the buried stem. The extra roots strengthen a plant so that it can support more fruit and is better able to survive hot weather. (This applies whether you’re growing in the ground, in a raised bed or in a container.)

Plant tomatoes

Whether in a pot or in the ground, set each tomato plant so that 2/3 of the plant is buried.

In really heavy soil, or if you don’t want to dig deeply, you can lay the plant on its side, provided that it is at leat 5 or 6 inches deep when buried, and that the ground beneath it isn’t as hard as a brick. To do this, angle the plant so that they growing tip is above ground. If your soil drains poorly, create a raised bed with potting soil that is piled at least 8 inches above ground level.

Once you’ve nearly buried it in soil, only the top few inches of the plant will be exposed. Water well, label the plant (to help remember which variety you’re growing), and watch you tomato plant grow big and strong. Within a few weeks, you plants with super roots will delight you with a bountiful harvest of lovely fruit.

We would love to further assist you with any and all of your planting questions and concerns! Visit Norwich Agway today and browse through our wide variety of seeds, plants and everything needed to please your green thumb!

-Article and images provided courtesy of bonnieplants.com.

Bird Flu- Facts and Prevention

Bird FluRecent Outbreaks of Bird Flu (Avian Flu) Raises Concern.

Avian flu makes the news whenever outbreaks occur in the United States, like recent ones in Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Minnesota, and Washington. People who keep backyard chickens should be aware of the risks, as it is a disease that can devastate a flock and potentially spread to people. Fortunately, taking simple precautions reduces the odds that either chickens or humans will contract it or many other infectious diseases.

According to the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control avian flu is caused by one of several viruses. Most don’t infect humans, but some strains can jump from birds to people and be fatal. In most human cases, a person contracted it by handling a diseased or dead bird and came in contact with bird saliva, nasal secretions or feces.

There is no evidence that the disease can be is a threat when eating well-cooked eggs or meat.   Initial human symptoms can include fever, coughing, muscle ache and eye infections. The disease can lead to other medical complications.

Although avian flu is fairly common in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Europe it’s rare in North America. According to the World Health Organization, one of the most effective ways of limiting the spread of an outbreak is to control the movement of chickens. Usually, a government will prohibit importing chicken or chicken products from an infected country and state or local governments usually ban any movement of chickens in or out of infected areas.

Large chicken farms and hatcheries practice strict biosecurity procedures to reduce the odds that their flock will become infected.  People with a few birds in a backyard coop often are too casual about preventing disease.

Avian flu is unlikely to strike isolated backyard flocks. Disease transmission in humans and chickens is similar. People who have minimal contact with others are unlikely to catch a contagious disease. Cram them together in an airplane, classroom or theater, and just one sick person can spread the disease to others. Chickens are normally very healthy and the family that buys a few chicks from a disease-free hatchery and raises them isolated from other chickens reduces the contagion threat. Unfortunately, many backyard flock owners visit other people’s coops. Sometimes they adopt a friend’s surplus birds. Both actions could bring a disease into a healthy flock.

To reduce the odds of infection by many diseases and the chance that a person could catch avian flu follow these basic safety precautions:

* Keep the flock isolated. Don’t bring in outside birds that may be exposed to disease.

* Invite anyone who keeps chickens to wash and change clothes before visiting your birds. Better yet, share pictures instead of providing direct contact with birds. Don’t adopt stray or orphan chickens. Be cautious and use good biosecurity measures when attending “coop tours” and poultry shows, which can spread diseases quickly.

* Keep the coop clean and dry. Moisture breeds disease.

* Keep the chickens healthy by always providing a balanced diet, clean water, and fresh air.
Isolate ill birds from the rest of the flock.

* Wear rubber gloves when butchering and dressing chickens, and thoroughly clean knives and other tools used in the process. Dipping tools and soiled gloves in a bleach solution kills pathogens.

* Limit the flock’s access to migratory wild birds, especially waterfowl, which can move germs from place to place.

* Avoid direct contact with dead or diseased birds. Wash thoroughly and chance into clean clothes after any contact.

* If a family member develops flu symptoms tell the physician that chicken contact was likely.

Chickens are normally wonderfully healthy and millions of people worldwide live in close proximity with them without ever suffering a health problem. The chance that someone with a backyard flock will catch avian flu from is remote but possible. Understanding the disease and practicing simple preventative measures reduces the odds even more.

Has your flock ever been affected by the devastation of avian flu? Please share your story with us in the comment box below, and let Norwich Agway help you in preventing future outbreaks!

Give us a call at (860) 889-2344 or visit us for further concerns about your chicken’s present and future well-being!

-Article and image courtesy of scoopfromthecoop.nutrenaworld.com

How to Plant Colorful Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Azaleas and RhododendronsA yard without shrubs is like a completed puzzle, minus one piece. The look is almost perfect, but something is missing!

Shrubs work wonders — especially ones with bold, colorful flowers. These easy to care for plants instantly fill in gaps in your garden landscape and look fabulous every season. Complete your garden by planting a shrub or two today!

Azaleas and rhododendrons are some of the most popular flowering shrubs. Blooming from late spring to early summer, these shrubs thrive in almost any garden. Plus, they come in virtually every color of the rainbow — from bold pinks, purples and reds to soft, muted yellows and whites. As an added bonus, hummingbirds and bees cannot get enough of azaleas and rhododendrons.

For Established Shrubs:

Spring feeding helps develop new growth and the production of new flower buds. Sprinkle one cup of Holly-tone per foot of branch spread now. Holly-tone is long-lasting so you’ll only need to fertilize twice in a season. Don’t wait too long, or you risk encouraging green vegetative growth at the expense of flower bud development. Once now, and again in the fall will ensure a perfect Rhody!

For New Shrubs:

Spring is the perfect time to plant so pick your favorite color and variety. Before buying, check the plant tag to see if you have enough space for a full-grown shrub. Azaleas and rhododendrons can range from 2 feet to more than 20 feet tall! If planting shrubs in a row, ensure you have enough space to plant 2 feet to 6 feet apart depending on how big your shrubs will get.

Now, before you start digging, choose a spot for your shrub and envision the great impact these plants will have on your landscape! Both these flowering shrubs like to hang in the shade and do not grow well in full sunlight. So, make sure you’ve selected a perfectly shaded spot!

Before you start digging, plan for growth. If planting shrubs in a row, ensure you have enough space to plant 2-6’ apart depending on how big your shrubs will get. These flowering shrubs are so easy to care for because most of the work is done before planting.

Keep azaleas and rhododendrons bursting with beautiful blooms by picking the right spot and ensuring you’ve got ideal soil for growing. Don’t forget to test the soil! These acid loving shrubs need a soil pH of 4.5-5.5. If your soil test reveals a higher pH, your soil is alkaline. Solve the problem by amending with Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier.

Once your soil is ready, it’s time to plant!

Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Then, remove the shrub from its original container, loosen the roots and dip in a bucket of water.

Next, arrange the shrub in the hole, so the top of the root ball is slightly about the ground’s surface. Fill half the hole with compost, peat moss or humus, and mix in 1 cup Holly-tone fertilizer for better blooms. This organic plant food is specially crafted for acid-loving plants, like azaleas and rhododendrons. Feeding new shrubs with an organic fertilizer now keeps them well-fed for months, spurs deep evergreen color and dynamic blooms.

Fill half the hole with Espoma Organic All Purpose Garden Soil. Now finish planting your shrub by filling the hole with Espoma Organic All Purpose Garden Soil, and 2-3″ of mulch. Water now, and tomorrow, too.

Doesn’t your garden instantly look brighter? We’d love to see how a flowering shrub completed your garden. Share a before and after picture on our Facebook Page!

-Article and images provided by www.espoma.com

Do You Know How Much to Feed Your Chickens?

Feed your chickensHave you ever wondered just how much feed you should buy for your flock of chickens? Factors that can affect the amount needed to feed your chickens include, but are not limited to:

-Age of chicken
-Breed of chicken
-Weather & light conditions
-Stress levels

Your Chicken’s Diet

Until the age of 16 weeks, a single chick should be fed approximately 1 pound of feed per week. After 16 weeks, a single chicken should consume approximately 1.5 pounds per week. The amount of water that chickens drink can vary, but an egg-laying hen drinks an average of 2 cups of water per day.

Grit

Since they don’t have teeth, chickens store ‘grit’ in their crop during feeding time to help grind down their food. Grit can be provided by itself from a container or simply sprinkled onto their food. Although it is unknown exactly how much grit is required, make sure that you always have some available.

Marigold

Marigold, or other plants containing xanthophyll, can be added to a chicken’s diet to produce more vibrant, golden yellow egg yolks.

Scratch Grains

Scratch grains should only be used as an occasional treat. Keep treats to a 10% minimum, for this could affect the desired percentage of protein in their total diet.

By following these basic guidelines, you’ll never have to guess the proper portions to feed your chickens again. Don’t have your own flock yet? See the complete list of chicken and duck breeds that we have available at Norwich Agway by clicking here!

Winter Can Bring Dandruff

DandruffDandruff or seborrhea sicca, as it is technically called, is the excessive shedding of dead skin cells. In other words, dandruff in pets is dry skin. It looks like white flakes on your dog or cat and, obviously, it is most noticeable against dark-colored coats. Pets that suffer from dry skin are very itchy. When they itch, they scratch and scratching can lead to skin infections. By scratching the surface of the skin, your pet is breaking down the natural protection that the skin provides. There are seven layers of the skin and the scratching can break all of them. You may see scratch marks, redness, and even bleeding. The bacteria on top of the skin get underneath from the scratching and are the cause of infection and more itch. Left untreated, dry skin leads to more dry skin and more itching. It becomes a vicious cycle! Many times itch is even more uncomfortable than pain and it can wake your pet up from a deep sleep.

One of the first things you can do to provide your pet with instant relief is to give a bath with a medicated shampoo and conditioner. When your hands are dry and itchy and you apply a soothing cream, it gives you immediate relief. That is what the bath does; it can instantly help soothe your pet. You may want to choose a shampoo that has aloe or oatmeal in it, or get one that is specific for dandruff.

To help prevent dandruff in the first place, you can add a fatty acid supplement to your pet’s diet. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements given daily will help prevent dandruff. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are found in fish oil and also help lubricate the joints to help your pet move more easily.

Adding a humidifier to the home will also help, especially during the winter months. Home heating can especially dry out your pet’s skin.

Pets that don’t drink enough water can also suffer from dehydration, in addition to dry skin. We are all approximately 70% water and our pets are no different. It is very important that our pets drink plenty of water everyday to stay well hydrated and healthy. Pets that are in a constant state of dehydration are prone to kidney disease and many other illnesses. If your pet doesn’t drink enough water, you can add water to his or her food. Getting a water fountain can also help. The sounds of water splashing can be enticing and encourage drinking.

There are lubricating sprays that can be applied to your pet’s skin immediately after a good combing. Combing is preferred over brushing so that you can remove the dead hair from your pet. This will help air get to the skin for a healthier coat. A flea comb is best since its teeth are very close together and ensures the removal of more dead hair. It is always better to remove the dead hair than wait for it to come out naturally all over your home. Daily combing will help you keep your home cleaner. The lubricating spray can then be applied to help moisten the coat and help relieve the dry skin.

Treating dandruff or better yet, preventing it in the first place will help you keep your pet, “Healthy and Happy.” Keep your furry loved ones itch free this winter and stop by Norwich Agway to browse through our stock of shampoos and conditioners. Contact us.

*Article courtesy of The Hartz Mountain Corporation and presented on www.agway.com.

Holiday Amaryllis

AmaryllisAmaryllis blooms brighten dreary winter days with an array of cheerful and bold colors. The flowers are popular during the holidays not only as gifts, but also as a stunning live floral decoration.

Enjoy your amaryllis as long as possible during the holidays by keeping the container out of direct sunlight that could wilt the flowers quickly. Keeping it in as cool a place as possible indoors, around 60 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal and also extends the bloom time. Once the initial flowers fade, don’t throw the flower pot out with the wrapping paper. Amaryllis can re-bloom for many years with care and attention.

Growth phase

Cut the amaryllis stalk back once it’s through blooming, leaving an inch or two above the top of the bulb. Take care not to damage leaves or any additional emerging flower stalks. It’s natural for sap to seep out of the hollow stalk.

Amaryllis have their growth phase during the late winter. Boosting leaf production now fuels next year’s flowers. The more sunlight the bulb receives the better, so move the container to the sunniest location possible. Fertilize monthly and keep the soil moist. Once the threat of frost passes in the spring, place the container outdoors in a sunny area. The move likely will cause the leaves to die, but new ones will sprout. Water daily and fertilize every other week.

Going dormant

To have amaryllis blooms for the next holiday season, the bulb’s dormant period must begin by mid-August. Stop watering then and move the pots to a cool location of about 55 degree Fahrenheit. Stop fertilizing it in late September.

As fall arrives, amaryllis can be taken indoors to a cool spot or left outside as temperatures drop. However, bring the plants inside before November 1. Earlier if a heavy frost is expected. Once inside keep the bulb rather dry and cool during dormancy. It’s common, but not necessary, for the leaves to wither for the bulb to reach complete dormancy. Check it weekly. After eight to ten weeks, the tip of the new flower stalk should emerge from the bulb.

New growth

If you move the container to a warmer spot of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit during this phase, it encourages leaves to emerge at the same time the flower stalk is developing. This warm treatment is not needed for the amaryllis bulb to bloom, though. After the three weeks have passed, repot the bulb, keeping at least one-third of it above the new soil. Water the amaryllis thoroughly immediately after repotting, but let the soil dry out some before watering again. Stimulate root growth by place the newly repotted amaryllis container in a sunny, warm spot.

Large amaryllis bulbs may produce as many as three flower stalks. The stalk may have single or multiple blooms. Once the first flower opens, move the plant to a cool location with indirect light to preserve the bloom as long as possible.

Contact your local Norwich Agway to browse through our variety of home & garden supplies. Call today at 860-889-2344.

*Article courtesy of www.agway.com

5 Tips On How To Exercise Your Dog

Exercise your dogDogs need exercise. They don’t just want it, they need it. Some breeds in particular are bred in a way that guarantees they will have enough energy to pull a sled, herd sheep, or track down animals for hours at a time.

If you have them sitting in a plush bed in your living room day after day, you can bet they’ll get anxious, over excited and even overweight to the point of unhealthiness. You have to exercise your dog and you have to do it regularly.

So, to help out with the seemingly impossible task of wearing out a dog, here are five top tips that the experts say can reduce that excess energy load and make your life a little less stressful.

1. How Much Exercise - The amount of exercise you give your dog will depend largely on their breed and their likes. Some dogs, despite breed don’t need much in the way of exercise.  Others never seem to be worn out. Also, take into consideration how hot it is outside and how tired you are. If it’s 90 degrees outside, your dog isn’t going to want to go for a run…neither are you.

2. Scaling Up - If you decide your dog needs 2+ miles a day of walking to get them in shape and happy, don’t just do it all at once. You and you dog both need time to adjust to the walking routine.  Add 10 minutes at a time to your walk until you reach your target distance and you’ll both be much better prepared.

3. Choosing the Right Exercise - Each breed needs different exercise. Small dogs like Chihuahuas only need a single walk a day. Other small dogs like terriers need a lot of exercise, plus playing time to stimulate their minds.  Hounds and Retrievers need long walks for the entirety of their lives. Working dogs like herders and sledders need to actually work. Run them or even add back packs with weight to help them keep moving.

4. Play Games - A dog can get exercise in the house too with simple games. Wrestling with your dog is a great way to wear you both out. It will also teach them boundaries and limits in play with humans.  Make sure to train them with appropriate stop words to keep them from hurting anyone. Other games they make like include hide and seek, fetch, catch, and pulling.

5. Running and Hiking - If you like to run or go on hikes, make sure your dog is well suited for this type of exercise. Some smaller breeds can get overheated very easily, to the point of sickness or even death (such as pugs or smaller bull dogs).  Additionally, make sure your dog is protected against ticks, heart worm and fleas before taking them into the woods. It wouldn’t do you any good to get them exercised only to bring home a disease instead. A dog that has been well exercised is going to always behave better than an over active, bouncy dog with too much energy to spare. It will also make it much easier to know if your dog has other behaviour problems that can be confused for over excitement.

And best of all, these exercises will all allow you to enjoy your dog in many more ways, having fun and playing games that will bring you both closer together. You can’t beat solid bonding and nothing helps a dog and its owner bond better than a few hours outdoors wearing each other out.

Help your canine friends rest up for their next exercise session! Browse through our wide selection of plush dog beds by clicking here!

Article courtesy of www.agway.com. Author: http://gooddogtrainingadvice.com

Winterizing Your Horse’s Feeding Program

Dr. Martin Adams, Equine Nutritionist for Southern States

Horse's feedingWinter weather can be responsible for stresses that can compromise your horse’s health. The good news is that you can prevent some of that stress through proper feeding management. Most horses have some “down time” in winter, where adverse weather will not permit much riding or showing activity.  It is during these times that it is easy to neglect your horse’s feeding and nutrition program.

A reduction in your horse’s activity level usually means a reduced need for calories, and requirements for grain or concentrate feeding can be lowered. In cold weather the horse’s caloric requirements will be greater as the horse attempts to generate enough heat to maintain normal body temperature. But caloric needs are only slightly increased, 10% to 20% over maintenance needs for all but the most extreme conditions.

Old-time horsemen thought if they fed corn during the winter months, it would generate more body heat and help alleviate cold weather stress. In reality, the horse’s body generates more heat from the fermentation process in the hindgut as a result of eating forage (hay and pasture). So feeding more hay and less grain will allow the horse to more easily maintain its body temperature.  Substitute two pounds of hay for every pound of grain you decrease in the horse’s daily ration.

With the onset of cold weather there is also a greater incidence of impaction colic in horses. This is mainly due to the horse becoming dehydrated because he will consume less water due to cooler temperatures (no sweating), less water availability (frozen ponds, cold water, etc.), and a diet of hay (10% water content) instead of pasture (80% water content). When horses drink cold water during the winter, their bodies must expend additional calories to warm their tissues back up from the heat loss that is incurred, so they instinctively drink less.  Warming water or using insulated or heated buckets that keep water temperature above freezing will allow the horse to consume more water. Research has shown that horses drink the most water when the temperature is between 45 and 65º F. Optimum water consumption will keep the fiber in the horse’s lower digestive system more hydrated, allowing it to be broken down more quickly by intestinal bacteria and to be more flexible, and less likely to “ball up” and cause a blockage in the large intestine.

Monitoring your horse’s body condition can be difficult in the winter if you do not clip your horse’s hair coat. Trying to see if your horse is a little “ribby” is hard to do when he has a winter coat. Instead use a weight tape or weigh him on a scale, if you have one available, and check how he is maintaining his weight every 30 to 60 days. Then you can adjust his feeding program and get him back on the right track before warmer weather comes. It is no fun to clip your horse in the spring and realize he is a “bag of bones” and you will need to bring him back up to proper weight before beginning your riding activity.

Winter is also the time when the barn may be “closed up” in an effort to make the environment warmer and less drafty for the horse. Good ventilation is more important than providing a little more warmth, so be sure to provide good air flow in your barn even in winter time. Due to decreased ventilation, it is also important to be careful about hay feeding. Research has shown that horses fed hay in hay nets placed above their heads will have an increased incidence of respiratory problems. Feed hay off the ground or position the hay net below the horse’s head so that continuous drainage of the respiratory tract can occur.

Tips for Winter Feeding

  • Feed more hay and less grain, substitute two pounds of hay for every pound of grain you decrease in the horse’s daily ration to keep your horse warmer
  • Encourage water consumption by offering warm water, or use insulated or heated buckets to keep water at a higher temperature (ideal water temperature is 45 to 65º F), to reduce incidence of impaction colic
  • Add salt, mineral supplement or electrolytes to the feed to increase water consumption and reduce impaction colic risk
  • Turn the horse out as much as possible, or provide adequate exercise to aid gut motility and prevent colic
  • Feed hay off the ground or position the hay net below the horse’s head to aid in nasal and lung drainage and lessen incidence of respiratory problems
  • Assess body condition in unclipped horses by weighing on a scale or using a weight tape every 30-60 days

Article courtesy of www.agway.com. For future tips and information regarding your home, pets and garden needs, sign up for our monthly newsletter!

Alternative Heating Sources

Alternate heatingThe expected rise in heating costs will find many people seeking ways to save on energy bills. While everyone can benefit from improving insulating and weatherproofing, more people are looking for alternative forms of home heating including stoves that burn wood, corn or pellets.  The “People Who Know” at Agway can help you save money and provide the right recommendations to make your purchase the perfect choice for your home’s needs.

Using corn, wood, and wood pellets have recently seen a huge rise in popularity as people seek alternative heating methods. Wood and corn are grown locally, and are more affordable than heating oil, or even natural gas. Often the alternative stove provides enough heat for the entire home, even when installed initially as a supplement to existing conventional heaters. Many of these stoves are direct vent systems, additional venting system or chimney are not needed. Stoves range in size and capacity and fit in most rooms of any home. The fuel is easily stored, and the stoves are effortlessly controlled with thermostats.  Check our catalog to view the many varieties of stovesfuel, and accessories available. Bring the list of your favorites to your local Agway.  If they don’t have everything you want in stock, just ask them to order it for you.

Be sure to know what product you are using, fuel-base or electric-base.  There are things you do differently with each type of equipment.  Proper ventilation (not needed for direct vent systems) is especially important to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless danger that any fuel-burning appliance can generate.   When you start using alternative heating sources, make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly.

Before you head to your local Agway store for your alternate heating source and supplies, be sure to research the alternatives and decide which fits your needs, time and budget best.  What are your choices?

*Wood Stove – Stroke it up in the morning and keep it burning all day.  As a bonus, if the power goes out you still have heat. It is extra work as you will need to stack wood and load the stove but even if you spend between $500 and $700 a season for cords of wood it would be an enormous savings.

*Pellet Stove – Pellets are created from recycled wood waste. Pellet stoves run on electricity so if the power goes out, so does the stove. The upside is that it burns clean, creates little or no dust and has no smell.  The average use is 2 to 3 tons a season.

*Corn Stove – Corn burns cleaner than wood and does not pollute. Stoves are easy to install and operate, quick to clean and keep up, virtually smoke free and safe, with no creosote, or detrimental fumes. They are 20% hotter than wood.  Keep in mind price charged per bushel of corn may vary from the market price when small quantities are purchased.

*Coal Stove – Uses a variety of coal, including rice, nut and pea coal.  Burns less than a wood pellet stove but produces more waste (thus more cleaning).

Courtesy of www.agway.com. Stop by your local Norwich Agway to see our full selection of stoves, heaters, firewood, coal and pellets!

 

Holiday Pet Portraits

10 Tips for Holiday Pet PortraitsHoliday Pet Portraits

For many pet owners, their dogs, cats, and other furred, feathered, or scaled friends are members of the family, and it is entirely appropriate to include those family members in holiday portraits. Whether you are taking seasonal pictures just of your pet or are including them in a family photo session, these tips can help you capture your pet’s personality cheerfully and easily.

Choose a Pet-Friendly Photographer: Not every photographer has experience with pet portraits or will welcome animals at a photo session. Ask to see their portfolio and have them meet your pet before the photo session to be sure they can work with the animal’s personality.

Train Your Pet: Before attempting to take portraits, your pet should be trained in basic obedience. This can help keep your pet under control during the photo shoot and will let them know what is expected, even with all the unusual activity going on.

Get Your Pet Used to Accessories: If you want your pet dressed up with a seasonal accessory such as a hat, special collar, or costume, get them accustomed to the new items early.   Use the items several times in the days before the photo shoot, and be sure the pet has time to smell and see the accessories before wearing them.

Groom Your Pet: Your pet should look their best for any photo session, and that means careful grooming. A good brushing or bath if necessary, as well as careful trimming of long hair, can make your pet extra photogenic. Bring a clean cloth to wipe their eyes, and bring along a brush for quick touch-ups.

Bring the Leash Along: Have a new, clean collar, harness, or leash for your pet if they will be wearing one in the photo, and always have them on hand to keep your pet under control when they aren’t on camera. If your pet is not one that will use a collar and leash, have its cage or crate available.

Take a Good Walk: Take your pet on a good walk shortly before the photo session. Not only will this allow them to “do their business” somewhere other than the photo set, but it will also help remove excess energy so they will be more cooperative. Avoid highly stimulating walks or games, however, that could excite them.

Remove Distractions: If you will be taking the portraits at home, remove as many distractions as possible from the photo area, including toys and food dishes. This will make it easier for you to keep your pet’s attention focused just where you want it – on the camera.

Bring a Toy: Bring along one of your pet’s favorite toys to the studio so the photographer can use it to get their attention, much the same way a children’s photographer will wave a toy to draw a child’s eyes to the camera. This can also help get a more natural, engaged expression on your pet’s face, perfect for a happy photo.

Take Pet Photos First: If you will be doing a full family session that includes some photos without your pet, take the photos with the animal first, while they are more alert and ready to pay attention. After their part of the session ends, put them in a quiet place or remove them from the scene to finish the shoot.

Offer Rewards: After your pet behaves properly, offer them a treat for their hard work. This will help them feel relaxed and at ease, even in unfamiliar surroundings.

Taking holiday pet portraits can be a great way to preserve happy occasions with your furry family members, but also remember one key thing – if you plan to include photos with a holiday card or create photo cards, your pet isn’t the only family member everyone will want to see. Always include photos of yourself as well, ideally showing that both you and your pet are doing well and wishing everyone the happiest of holidays!

Don’t forget your animal friends while shopping this Holiday season! Visit www.agway.com to browse through a wide selection of pet toys, treats, and accessories.

 

A Cold Weather Use for Tomato Cages

Tomato CagesTomato Cages Put to Good Use
During the Winter

This fall, as I was cleaning up the garden in preparation for winter, I began to wonder if there was a cold weather use for tomato cages, instead of trying to find a place to store them. At last it hit me: Why not use them to store the huge bounty of leaves that has been collecting in my yard? In the cages, the leaves would begin the decomposition process and eventually become something I could use to improve the soil in my garden.

That’s just what I did, and the leaves are already on their way to becoming compost here in my mild, moist Southern climate. Next spring, when it’s time to re-claim my tomato cages for their original use, I’ll use my mulching mower to shred the semi-composted leaves, then add them into the soil. Not only will doing this help the soil retain moisture, but it will also keep it loose so the roots of my beloved tomatoes can easily grow and spread to soak up all the wonderful oxygen and water deep down in my planting beds. I may also use some of them as mulch around the base of the plants, so the leaves will continue to decompose and improve the soil throughout the growing season.

It’s pretty cool when you think about it: In different ways, these cages will support an abundant harvest of tomatoes throughout the entire year

Article courtesy of Byron Ford: Bonnie Plants’ Web Producer

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For more tips on winterizing your yard and garden, or to browse our tomato cages and products, visit www.agway.com

A Backyard Birding Big Year

Birding big year

A Birding Big Year is Right in Your Backyard!

A big year is an exciting adventure when you try to see as many different bird species as possible, but most birders don’t have the time or budget to spend a year traveling around the country or chasing rare bird reports to add to their list. But every birder can have a backyard birding big year!

Get Ready for a Backyard Bird Year

If your backyard is bird-friendly, you may see more species than you think during the year. To make the most of the year, however, you need to make your yard as friendly for as many different birds as you can.

Feeders: Offering different foods in different bird feeders is the best way to attract more birds to your yard. Use platform feeders and tube feeders, as well as hummingbird feeders and suet feeders, and be sure to offer fruit, seeds, nectar, jelly, nuts and other treats to meet birds’ different dietary preferences. Keep the feeders clean and full, and a great variety of birds will sample the treats.

Water: Many birds enjoy a fresh, clean source of water even if they don’t usually visit bird feeders. Provide several sources of water, including bird baths at different levels, and use a mister, dripper, or fountain to create splashing sounds and sparkling reflections to catch birds’ attention. Be sure to have a heated bird bath ready for the winter months.

Shelter: If birds feel safe and secure, they will not only stay nearby in poor weather, but they will often build nests and raise their young as well. Provide bird houses and bird roost boxes, as well as mature trees, a brush pile, and plenty of shrubs for the birds to take shelter, and more species will take advantage of the accommodations.

Landscaping: Even the best feeders, baths, and houses will not attract as many birds as natural, native landscaping. Choose seed-bearing flowers and nectar-rich flowers, plant berry bushes and fruit trees, and opt for areas which utilize organic pest control options so birds can take advantage of juicy and nutritious insects. A mix of evergreen and deciduous trees will provide shelter and nesting sites, and birds will flock to the sanctuary your yard is becoming.

Recording Your Birds

There are several ways to keep track of the birds you see during a backyard birding big year. Keeping a notebook or journal is an easy option, and you can note the date when you see a new species as well as make notes about how the birds behave or what weather conditions are like. If you just want to keep a list of the birds, you can do so quickly on a simple calendar, or if you’re tech-savvy, you can take notes on your mobile devices or use online apps to track your birds. Each month you’ll be amazed at the birds that arrive and help grow your list, and you’ll find that you enjoy the challenge of attracting even more birds next year!

Do you have experience in birding or tips for successful bird watching? We’d love to hear from you! Please comment below.

- Article courtesy of Melissa Mayntz on www.agway.com

Flea Control on Pets: A 3-Step Process

Flea control

3-Steps for Complete Flea Control

Did you know that 95% of fleas are not adults? The vast majority of the flea population is in the egg, larvae and pupae stages. These immature fleaslive in pet bedding, carpeting, furniture, gardens and lawns.Wherever the pet goes, fleas and their offspring follow.

Stop Infestation

Breaking the flea life cycle is critical to effective flea control. Bio Spot Defense™ Flea & Tick Spot On® products contain InfestStop™ nsect Growth Regulator, or IGR, to stop immature fleas from becoming biting, breeding adults. InfestStop™ IGR is designed to treat the pet, and its surroundings, to solve existing flea problems and prevent future reinfestations.

Bio Spot Defense™ Flea & Tick Spot On® for Dogs products respond quickly to infestations and start killing fleas and ticks within 15 minutes.

Immediate Relief

Bathe or spray your pet to quickly kill the fleas & ticks already on your pet and prevent the infestation from coming back.

Recommended products:

 

Ongoing Protection

Use topicals or collars to provide a protective barrier against fleas & ticks before they can cause a problem.

Recommended products:

 

Home & Yard

Use carpet sprays, room foggers and yard sprays to rid your home and yard of fleas & ticks.

Recommended products:

©2012 Farnam Companies, Inc. 300512303 12-0224

Bio Spot, Bio Spot with design, Bio Spot Defense, InfestStop, Smart Shield, Smart Shield with design and Sykillstop are Trademarks of Farnam Companies, Inc. Spot On is a registered trademark of Wellmark International. Nylar is a registered trademark of McLaughlin Gormley King Co.

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

 

5 Ways to Help Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are popular backyard birds, but even as feisty as they may seem, these tiny birds face many threats. Concerned birders can take easy steps to help hummingbirds thrive in their backyard and around the world.

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Offer Healthy Nectar

A sugar water solution of four parts water to one part plain white table sugar is the best nectar recipe for hummingbirds. Avoid other sweeteners or ingredients – they aren’t necessary to attract the birds, and some sweeteners can harbor bacteria or mold that can be harmful to hummingbirds. Commercial nectar concentrates or mixes are also good, easy options for feeding hummingbirds. No matter which option you choose, keep hummingbird feeders clean so the nectar is always fresh and safe.

Plant Nectar Flowers

Hummingbird-friendly landscaping should include a wide range of nectar-producing flowers such as columbine, trumpet vine, petunias, bee balm, salvia, cardinal flowers, and impatiens. Colors such as red, pink, and orange will attract the most birds, but any color will work. Throughout the flower beds, avoid using harsh insecticides – opt for natural insect control or organic products instead – so the birds can feed on protein-rich insects that will also be attracted to the flowers.

birds in norwich connecticut agway

Offer Nesting Material

Despite their tiny size, hummingbirds need a lot of soft, gentle material to create their nests. Offer soft, clean cotton that has not been chemically treated, and you’ll see these small birds hovering to snatch a beakful. Also leave spider webs intact around the yard and hummingbirds will be able to pluck strands from the web to help their nest stick together but still be supple enough to accommodate growing chicks.

Monitor Bees and Wasps

Large, stinging insects are a threat to hummingbirds, and a mob of bees or wasps can kill a hummingbird. While they are valuable insects to have in the garden, take steps to keep them away from hummingbird feeders and make sure there are no large nests near hummingbird flowerbeds or feeders to help protect the birds.

Support Hummingbird Habitat

While we may love hummingbirds in our backyard, most hummingbird species rely on tropical rainforest habitat either year-round or when they migrate south each winter. Supporting this habitat by contributing to appropriate conservation organizations and choosing rainforest-friendly products such as renewable woods and shade-grown coffee will ensure hummingbirds always have a safe place to call home.

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With these simple steps, you can not only enjoy hummingbirds in your yard, but you will make sure they keep coming back year after year.

 

 

 

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

PetCare: Caring for Your Pet’s Coat

Petcare: Caring basics include brushing, bathing, regular inspections and a healthy diet.

There are many factors that contribute to the health of your dog’s skin and coat. Because specific needs tend to be breed dependent, researching your pet’s coat-care needs will pay off. For example, some dogs have a “double coat”: an outer or guard coat plus an undercoat. An uninformed pet dogcoatparent may unknowingly neglect the undercoat, resulting in painful mats condition that could require professional attention. Minimize potential coat problems by getting to know your dog’s needs and following these basic guidelines:

Inspect

After your dog has been outdoors and especially if he’s been in heavy brush, inspect his coat. Fleas, ticks, and other parasites are more common in warmer weather. Also check for dandruff — which closely resembles human dandruff. Dog dander can be caused by parasites and skin infections that require veterinary care.

Brush

Brushing your dog’s coat removes dead hair. Hair shed but not removed can easily form mats which can be painful and in severe instances, affect his heart. De-matting is uncomfortable for dogs. Leave this job to a professional groomer that knows how to minimize the impact of on your pet.Brushing also helps to stimulate the skin and distribute natural oils throughout the coat. Using the right brushes and combs for your dog’s hair type is critical. Brushes and combs for short-haired dogs can be much different than those for medium and long coats.

Bathe

Your dog’s skin is very sensitive and requires specific skincare products. His hair oils are protective, so do not scrub him to the point where these oils are completely removed. A proper shampoo will help to stave off many health problems and make your dog more pleasant to be around.Grooming prior to bathing removes loose hair and mats that can trap shampoo against the skin and cause irritation.

Nourish

Building a healthy coat and skin begins from the inside out. Feeding your dog a diet complete with protein, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids is essential. Supplements and treats formulated with skin-nourishing supplements are a great way to reward your dog and care for his coat at the same time. Your dog’s appearance is not the only benefit of a proper grooming schedule. Your regular grooming care will play active role in your dog’s overall health and well being.

As seen on agway.com

Article courtesy of The Hartz Mountain Corporation

Caring for Garden Mums

Mums_1Garden mums burst forth in brilliant falls hues when other perennials are fading fast. Combine them with pansies and ornamental cabbages and kale for a gorgeous fall display that will last well into early winter.

Most chrysanthemums planted in Zones 5-9 will be winter hardy, but it depends on the health of the plant and severity of freezing weather during the winter. Mums are usually priced low enough to be planted as annuals, but if left in the ground, they may sprout new leaves in spring.

Most varieties of mums have been bred to maintain a compact mounding habit. You can maximize the number of blooms per plant by “pinching back” or removing the growth tips and first set of leaves on the end of each branch once every six weeks during the summer. Do this up until early September and your plants will be covered in a multitude of bright blooms.

Other varieties of mums have an upright vase-shaped habit. These usually produce larger blooms than their compact cousins which are suitable for cutting. To produce larger blooms, a plant of this type benefits from disbudding. This is the removal of the side buds on each branch leaving one bud on the tip of each branch. The single bud then produces one larger bloom.

Mums grow well in any soil condition which also supports the growth of vegetables or grass. Work the soil prior to planting to a depth of  8 to 12 inches adding soil amendments as needed. Space your mums far enough apart to allow for their final dimensions at maturity. They do equally well planted in pots as they do in garden beds making them very versatile. When planted in the garden, they will grow green and inconspicuously while the earlier blooming perennials around them show off their summer colors. As those begin to fade however, the mums are just beginning their show.

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com

Dethatching a Lawn

Even a lush lawn could have problems lurking just below the surface if it has too much thatch. But what is thatch, and how can you take care of it?

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About Thatch

Thatch is a layer of decaying matter between the grass blades and the soil. In a cross-section, thatch is a light brown layer of dead roots, decaying stems, runners, leaves, and similar debris, and it can help protect your lawn by cushioning it and insulating the grass roots. If the thatch layer gets too thick, however, it can foster disease and insects that kill grass, and can prevent water from soaking into the soil, causing brown patches in an otherwise perfectly healthy lawn.

A good rule of thumb is that a thatch layer of 1/2 an inch is fine; if your thatch is much thicker than that, however, dethatching your lawn is a good step that can prevent problems from developing.

 

Dethatching Your Lawn

To check your thatch, cut a small wedge of lawn (you’ll be putting it right back and it will be fine) and measure the tan layer at the base of the grass. That is your thatch, and if it is more than 1/2 inch thick, dethatching is a good idea.

Because dethatching can be stressful for a lawn, it is best done in late spring, early summer, or early fall when the lawn will have roughly 30-45 days of easy growth left before summer’s heat or the first autumn frosts.

 

To dethatch your lawn…

1. Mow the grass a bit shorter than normal to make it easier to bring thatch to the surface.

 

2. Dampen the lawn with sprinklers or a hose; it does not need to be soaked, but the thatch will lift better when slightly wet.

 

3. Use a sturdy leaf rake or a specialized thatch rake to go over the grass with strong strokes. You will bring up a layer of tan, dead material – the excess thatch.

 

4. Rake the same area more than once, but do so from different directions for the most effective dethatching.

 

5. Collect and dispose of the old thatch in a compost pile or in the trash as needed.

 

For large lawns or lawns with a very thick thatch layer, it may be necessary to rent a power dethatcher or special power rake with sharpened tines to remove the thatch. When using specialized equipment, always follow the instruction manual carefully.

 

Thatch can be a hidden horror in your lawn, but it can be easy to remove, giving your lawn new life and encouraging fresh, healthy growth.

What Is Xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is a popular landscaping method that minimizes water use and can even eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation if done properly. But what does xeriscaping require, and how does a xeriscaped yard look?

Origins of Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping began in Colorado and quickly spread throughout arid climates in the southwest. Today, xeriscaping is popular in many areas where water can be scarce or rainfall is insufficient, and the same techniques can be useful in xeriscapingevery yard. While xeriscaping may be more expensive to initially implement, the water cost savings can be significant over time, and the landscaping is easier to care for than traditional landscaping.

Xeriscaping Techniques

The most common eco-friendly techniques of xeriscaping include…

Efficient Plant Placement: Placing plants with similar watering needs in the same area allows you to monitor your watering better so no plants are over- or under-watered, and thus no water is wasted.
Compost: Soil amendments such as compost help improve the soil’s structure and aid water retention, as well as adding vital nutrients to the soil so plants can thrive. This allows plants to stay healthy with less frequent watering.
MulchMulch or other soil coverings also help with water retention, protecting plants from drying out without requiring even more water.
Native Plants: Xeriscaping plants are carefully chosen according to climate and planting zone so they will thrive in your environment with minimal care. Locally native plants are well adapted to your region’s moisture levels.
Minimizing Grass: Grassy areas require immense amounts of water to keep lush and healthy. If you do not need grass in your yard for children or pets to play, removing that grass can greatly reduce the water needs of your landscape.
Efficient Irrigation: Thoughtful planning will make the most of any supplemental water you may need in your landscape. Instead of using large sprinklers, choose soaker hoses or drippers that can provide deep watering without water loss to evaporation.

Your Xeriscaped Yard

Many people mistakenly believe that xeriscaping means only using rocks, gravel, and cacti in your yard, but nothing could be further from the truth. Depending on your local climate and the best native plants for your soil type, a xeriscaped yard can have plenty of green shrubs and beautiful flowers. Trees are a good part of xeriscaping, and containers of thirsty plants can be added to a xeriscaped yard to contain their water needs more effectively. By using water-wise landscaping, you can enjoy a stunning yard without being stunned by your water bill.

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

The Vacation Survival Guide for Your Garden

Sure, that beach vacation you’ve been planning is going to feel like heaven to you – but it won’t to your garden. That’s because a week or two without the usual TLC can leave your plants feeling dry and wilted, not to mention vulnerable to all sorts of critters and ailments. But your time away doesn’t have to spell doom for your veggies and herbs. Just follow these tips from regional extension agent Gary Gray of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for keeping your garden happy and healthy until you return.

Put in an irrigation system.

The biggest hurdle facing your garden while you’re away is getting enough water. Overcome it by installing drip irrigation in all of your beds vacation_gardenand pots (soaker hoses are another option, though they tend to be less efficient), then add a timer so the system will turn on and off automatically.

Add mulch.

Putting mulch around all of your plants not only helps control weeds, but it’ll help retain moisture by putting a barrier between the soil and the hot air. So if you haven’t mulched already, do so before you leave. Good options include wheat straw, pine straw, finely ground pine bark (also known as soil conditioner), and leaf compost.

Draft a garden assistant.

Nothing can replace having a pair of actual eyes on the garden. Make a deal with a trustworthy friend or neighbor: They agree to care for the garden on a daily basis (watering, weeding, looking for problems, etc.), and in return they get to take home everything that’s ready to harvest. Ask them to text you photos of anything suspicious (a strange bug, a spot on a leaf), and have them over a couple of times before you leave to shadow you as you tend to the garden.

Feed the plants.

Give your garden an extra helping of nutrients pre-trip. Use liquid fertilizer for a quick boost, and also give a dose of granular fertilizer if you plan to be gone more than a week. Be sure to follow the application directions on the package.

Inspect the garden.

If you want to return to a healthy garden, you’ll need to make sure you leave it in good shape. Look closely at your plants, at their color and vigor. Are some of the older leaves looking a little yellow and in need of a bit of nitrogen? Are there aphids on the tomato plants that could use a spritz of insecticidal soap? Any weeds that need pulling? Whatever you find, take care of it.

Plan some post-trip garden time.

As soon as possible after your return, go spend some time with your plants. Give them a good watering if they need it, then pull all the weeds that have cropped up. Most importantly, look carefully at every (yes, every) leaf on every plant for problems that might’ve sprung up – or simply become more obvious – while you were away. Pinch off any dead or questionable leaves, then deal with any insect or disease issues.

Finally, hello harvest time!

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

Tips for Equine Hydration & Water Management

The dog days of summer have arrived.  You’ve caught some rays, hit the pool, planned some summer getaways and had a few cookouts, but have you made a hydration plan for your horse?  With temperatures on the rise, it’s crucial that you monitor the water consumption of your horse to avoid dehydration and its associated complications.

Did you know the average 1,000 pound horse at rest drinks 8 to 10 gallons of water a day?  Add in high temperature and humidity and a horse at work can drink twice as much in the summer.  That’s a lot of water!  So how can you get your horse to drink more?

 

Equine-hydration

Keep Your Horse Hydrated

  1. Clean & available water

    Make sure your horse has easy access to water at all times.  He shouldn’t have to go searching to find a clean water source.  Provide your horse with squeaky clean water.  Tipped over, leaky, funky smelling water buckets aren’t appealing to drink from.  If you wouldn’t want to drink the water chances are your horse wouldn’t want it either.  Develop a weekly water bucket and trough cleaning schedule.

  2. Encourage drinking

    Offer electrolytes and salt blocks to your horse to stimulate their thirst.  Like humans, horses use sweating as a way to cool off during periods of warm weather and while exercising.  When a horse sweats, not only is water lost, but important electrolytes like sodium, chloride and potassium are lost.

    If too many electrolytes are lost serious problems like fatigue, muscle cramps and colic can occur. Electrolytes can be given to your horse in a variety of ways.  You can add water and administer via dosing syringe, add the electrolytes to your horse’s feed or add the electrolytes to their water.  Each way works equally as well, just figure out what your horse prefers to ensure they are consuming the added electrolytes.

  3. Soak it & mash it in feed

    Get extra water into your horse through their food.  Soak your hay flakes or cubes prior to feeding.  One flake of wet hay can absorb 1-2 gallons of water.  This can have a huge impact on your horse’s water consumption.   Adding water to your horse’s feed or bran to create a mash is another excellent way to up their water intake.

  4. Keep their water cool

    You may have thought about getting insulated water buckets for your horse in the winter time to keep water from freezing, but did you know they can also help keep your horse’s water cool in the summer?  Horses prefer cool water in the heat. These insulators work like a koozie cup on a soda can and surround the bucket keeping cool water cool.

  5. Spice it up

    Have a picky drinker on the road?  Flavor the water with Kool-Aid, peppermint oil, apple juice.  The additional flavor will keep your horse interested in what otherwise could be strange water.  Test this out prior to hitting the road to make sure you have a flavor combo your horse likes.

 

Horse Dehydration Test

Still not sure if your horse has drunk enough water?  Use the pinch test as a quick and easy way to tell if your horse is hydrated.  Pinch a bit of skin at the point of your horse’s neck and release it.  Count the seconds until the skin lies flat. If it flattens back in place in less than a second, no worries your horse is hydrated.  If it takes more than three seconds to flatten your horse is dehydrated, use the tips above to get more water in him.

5 Ways to Help Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are popular backyard birds, but even as feisty as they may seem, these tiny birds face many threats. Concerned birders can take easy steps to help hummingbirds thrive in their backyard and around the world.

Offer Healthy Nectar

Plant Nectar Flowers

Hummingbird-friendly landscaping should include a wide range of nectar-producing flowers such as columbine, trumpet vine, petunias, bee balm, salvia, cardinal flowers, and impatiens. Colors such as red, pink, and orange will attract the most birds, but any color will work. Throughout the flower beds, avoid using harsh insecticides – opt for natural insect control or organic products instead – so the birds can feed on protein-rich insects that will also be attracted to the flowers.

Offer Nesting Material

Despite their tiny size, hummingbirds need a lot of soft, gentle material to create their nests. Offer soft, clean cotton that has not been chemically treated, and you’ll see these small birds hovering to snatch a beakful. Also leave spider webs intact around the yard and hummingbirds will be able to pluck strands from the web to help their nest stick together but still be supple enough to accommodate growing chicks.

Monitor Bees and Wasps

Large, stinging insects are a threat to hummingbirds, and a mob of bees or wasps can kill a hummingbird. While they are valuable insects to have in the garden, take steps to keep them away from hummingbird feeders and make sure there are no large nests near hummingbird flowerbeds or feeders to help protect the birds.

Support Hummingbird Habitat

While we may love hummingbirds in our backyard, most hummingbird species rely on tropical rainforest habitat either year-round or when they migrate south each winter. Supporting this habitat by contributing to appropriate conservation organizations and choosing rainforest-friendly products such as renewable woods and shade-grown coffee will ensure hummingbirds always have a safe place to call home.

With these simple steps, you can not only enjoy hummingbirds in your yard, but you will make sure they keep coming back year after year.

Beautiful Hanging Flower Basket Tips

Hangingbaskets

Choose plants with trailing stems so that they will hide their container from hanging basketsview when fully grown, or use wire baskets lined with moss for a more natural look. You can also hide a plastic pot by sinking it in a wooden woven basket and hanging it with S-hooks in 3 places spaced equally apart and small gauge chains.

Hang baskets planted with fragrant flowering plants at nose level near the front door for a refreshing pick-me-up when entering and leaving.

Choose plants suited for the same growing conditions for the same basket. Plants such as impatients and ferns which are shade lovers won’t grow well with geraniums that love the sun.

Use dark green or silver-grey leaved plants to fill in between those that bloom in bright colors. Asparagus Fern and Dusty Miller Artemesia are great choices for this.

Water every day. You may wish to place another ground sitting container of plants under your hanging baskets to benefit from the run off of water and liquid fertilizer from above. Hanging baskets placed up high on pulleys makes lowering them for watering a breeze.

Stagger the heights of 3 or more baskets for a dramatic effect.

Choose colors and plants suitable to the location the basket will be hung in. For example, red and white geraniums in a sunny location look fabulous when hung near a window painted with blue or dark green trim.

In windy locations, use swivel hooks to allow the baskets to rotate 360 degrees. This makes the wind less damaging to the plants and reduces the chances of your baskets being broken in falls.

Plants with vivid colors and large blooms work best in hanging baskets that will be seen from a distance. Geraniums and tuberous begonias are excellent choices here.

Consider mixing dramatically different textures of foliage when choosing your plants. This adds texture to your arrangement and heightens the visual interest.

Use long trailing vines like periwinkle or trailing nasturtiums to reinforce the drama and romance of a hanging basket. These vines may grow up to 3 feet or more!

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

 

Gardening Tips for April

 

741102_66924868Spring is finally here!  While there is much to do in your yard and garden this month, don’t get discouraged!  There is plenty of time in the month to get to everything without overdoing it!

Shrub and Tree Care

  • Plant trees and shrubs.
  • There is still time to transplant larger trees or shrubs but don’t delay!  Depending on where you live, mid-April is the cut off for transplanting.
  • Prune Evergreens, Juniper, Cypress and other conifers.  Remove all dead, diseased and undesirable wood.
  • Prune your Forsythia after it finishes flowering.
  • Fertilize your Evergreens.

Caring for your Annuals, Perennials and Bulbs

  • Plant summer flowering bulbs (dahlias, gladiolas, lilies).
  • Plant annual seeds (aster, cosmos, marigolds, zinnias) in the garden.
  • Deadhead your spring flowering bulbs after they have finished blooming.  Do not cut off the green foliage yet as these will continue to grow!
  • Divide perennials (daylilies, delphiniums, iris, chrysanthemums, daisies, phlox) and transplant.
  • Fertilize roses before they begin to bloom.
  • Plant new rosebushes before growth starts.
  • If you have a pond, set aquatic plants mid-month or after.
  • Be sure to keep your plants well hydrated especially if our April Showers skip us.
  • Don’t forget your plants in containers!

 Fruit & Vegetable Gardens

  • Control weeds and aerate the soil.
  • Test your soil and add any amendments based on the soil test results.
  • Plant fruit trees and berry plants in full sun.
  • Plant root crops (potatoes, radishes, parsnips and onions) as well as cool season crops such as peas, carrots, betts, spinach, cauliflower and cabbage.

 Lawn Care

  • De-thatch and overseed your lawn.
  • Aerate existing lawn to allow water to penetrate deeper into the lawn soil.
  • Sharpen mower blades to prevent tearing the grass tips once you begin mowing. Set the blade to cut the grass at 2.5 inches to avoid scalping.
  • Apply your Agway Stage 1 or fertilizer and crabgrass preventer after the forsythia bloom (use a starter fertilizer on newly seeded or overseeded lawns)

 Houseplants

  • Rotate your plants so that each side receives light for an even growth and balanced shape.
  • Deadhead blooms, leaves and branches.
  • Give your plants a shower to remove dust from leaves.

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

Test Your Soils pH Level

Soil pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a soil.  It is based on a scale from 0 to 14 with agwayshovelzero being extremely acidic and 14 being extremely alkali. A soil test is a measure of the soil’s ability to supply nutrients to growing plants. This analysis provides a guide to the soil pH and nutrient levels. This helps determine the right amount of lime and the type of fertilizer your turf grasses and crops needs.  Click HERE to learn more about why soil testing is such an important tool.

To increase the soil pH, or make the soil less acidic, lime can be added to the soil. The amount of lime to be added depends on the starting pH, how much the pH needs to be increased and other factors which will be addressed in a soil test analysis.

Agway has two types of lime:

  • Fast Acting Lime - Goes to work instantly to help fix acidic soils by raising the ph level to green up your lawn.
  • Pelletized Limestone  – Improves fertilizer effectiveness and is easy to spread.

Want to test your soil?

Agway dealers carry simple soil testing kits so you can do it yourself; ask your local Agway dealer for a Rapidest Soil Test Kit. Or if you’d like a professional test done, contact your local Cooperative Extension or State University.

Proper soil pH is an important part of maintaining plant health and productivity. A pH between 6 and 7 is optimum for the performance of most desired species. In extremely low or high pH soils, plants can literally starve to death because they are unable to obtain essential nutrients from the soil.  On established lawns, applying lime at least annually will help maintain a proper pH and improve the soil pH.

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

Make Your Bird Bath Better

All birds need water to drink, bathe, and preen, and adding even a simple bird bath to your yard norwichagwaycan be helpful. There are eight ways you can improve your bird bath and a better bird bath will attract even more birds.

How to Improve Your Bird Bath

1.      Keep It Clean: Dirty water is not as attractive as fresh, clean water. Clean and disinfect your bird bath with a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach every few days, and remove any leaves, feathers, or other debris daily to keep the water clean as long as possible.

2.      Get a Grip: Birds need a rough surface to feel secure when perching to drink from a bird bath. If your bird bath is smooth and does not provide that type of grip, add several perches along the edge to make it easier for birds to use.

3.      Move Along: Moving water is better than stagnant water, and birds will see the reflections of the moving water and hear the splashes from a great distance, attracting more friends to the water source. Add a dripper or wiggler to your existing bird bath, or investigate bird baths with built in bubblers or fountains.

4.      Rock the Bath: Adding a few medium-sized rocks to the bird bath will vary the water depth so smaller birds can feel more comfortable. Choose rocks that can also provide a grip for the birds and that are tall enough to poke out of the water to create extra perches.

5.      Take It Up (or Down) a LevelBird baths with multiple levels can cater to more thirsty birds. Adding a saucer or extra dish on the ground at the base of a bird bath can be especially effective to let ground-feeding birds and larger species enjoy the water source.

6.      Stick It Out in All Seasons: Birds need water year-round, no matter what the weather or temperature. Investigate a heated bird bath for winter use, and place bird baths in the shade during the summer to keep them cool and fresh longer.

7.      Be Perfect With Perches: Adding nearby perches gives bathing birds a place to preen and dry off after using the bath, and thirsty birds may use perches while waiting their turn to drink. Plant bird-friendly landscaping near the bird bath with trees and bushes for perching, or use garden hooks and other decorations for instant perches.

8.      Fill ‘Er Up: Always keep a bird bath filled, even if it means adding a cup or two of water to the bath daily in the hottest weather. Bird baths lose a lot of water to evaporation, and a bathing bird can splash a lot of water out of the basin. If the bath isn’t filled, it isn’t much use to the birds.

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

Types of Snow Shovels

10500777Shoveling snow is never a favorite chore, but it can be easier and faster if the right shovel is used. A savvy homeowner will own different shovels to match up with the different kinds of snowfalls they are likely to be faced with each winter.

Straight Shovel: These shovels have a straight handle and a moderately deep scoop, with a front width that can range from 18-30 or more inches. The scoops may be metal or plastic, often with a metal front edge for durability, and they are suitable for either lifting or pushing snow. Wider widths work best with light, fluffy snow, while narrower scoops are more effective for dense, heavy snow.

Offset Shovel: The crooked handle of these shovels is more ergonomic for less back strain while shoveling, and they come in the same variety of materials and widths as straight shovels. It can take a bit of adjustment to learn how to work properly with an offset shovel, but for homeowners with back pain, it is well worthwhile.

Square-Nose Shovel: These shovels have a sturdy, reasonably deep metal scoop with square corners, ideal for cutting through ice or underneath frozen wedges of snow. They are also useful for heavier types of snow, because the scoop is not as wide and the overall load will not be too heavy to lift.

Round-Nose Shovel: Similar to a typical garden spade but with a slightly deeper scoop, these shovels have a rounded or pointed front edge to serve as a cutting tool through moderate ice or the packed drifts left from snowplows. The scoop is metal and while the volume these shovels can shift is not great, they are ideal for frozen drifts.

Snow Pusher: These shovels have very shallow scoops and range from 22-46 inches wide. The U-shaped handle is attached to both sides of the shovel for stability and it is not meant for lifting, but rather to push light snow quickly and efficiently. This is an ideal choice for clearing wide areas after a light snowfall.

Emergency Shovel: This compact tool is typically plastic with a foldable handle so it can easily be stored in a vehicle. The scoop is similar to a square-nose shovel and while these shovels are not meant for large areas, they can be invaluable for unexpected snowfalls when cars are parked outdoors, or in case of accidents or getting stuck on uncleared roads.

Scraper: Not a shovel exactly, a scraper is still an essential tool for shoveling snow. There is no scoop, but the short metal blade is thin and sturdy to chop ice quickly. This is useful for driveways to eliminate packed snow and ice under tire treads, or to remove ice buildup from gutters.

Roof Rake: These tools have several handle sections so they can be adjusted to different lengths to reach different parts of the roof. The head is a long, thin aluminum scraper, and while they cannot shift deep drifts of snow, they are efficient for keeping a roof clear to prevent snow buildup that can lead to leaks and damage.

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

Winter Outdoor Games With Your Dog

Getting outdoors is important for your dog’s health, and proper outdoor activities give your pet fresh air, exercise, and entertainment. But what safe games can you play outside in winter, no puppymatter how cold or snowy the weather may be?

Fetch: Fetch is ideal for dogs in any season. In winter, use brightly colored tennis balls that will be easier to see in the snow, or opt for a foam ring or Frisbee that won’t sink as far into deep snow. If your dog struggles through the snow to catch the ball, don’t throw it as far as you would in summer.

Catch & Chomp: Playing fetch with snowballs not only gives your dog the fun of chasing, but also of chewing as they catch the snowballs. Play with two people and your dog following the action in the middle for an exciting variation.

Hide & Seek: Hide toysbones, or treats under the snow to give your dog a sensory workout as they search for items they can’t see. If possible, place the items in the yard while the snow is falling and let them become covered so your dog can’t just follow your tracks to the treasures.

Snow Maze: Dig or flatten a simple maze in the yard and let your dog explore it. The paths do not have to be complex, and you can make the game more entertaining by going to one part of the maze and calling your dog to you, or by leaving treats in the maze for them to find.

Sliding: Some dogs enjoy sliding fun in the winter, with or without a sled. Use only gentle slopes, however, so the sliding will not be so fast as to scare your pet, and make sure there are no obstacles along the slope that could be a collision risk. If your dog has good balance and patience, you can even teach them to snowboard.

Dogsledding: Large dogs can get a great winter workout by pulling a sled. Attach a light sled to the dog’s harness – do not use a collar that could present a choking risk – and either ride along, or if the dog needs a lighter load, add some snow to the sled for resistance.

Walks: A simple walk is always a good way to enjoy outdoor activities with your dog, and winter walks can be stimulating even over the most familiar pathways as snowfalls change scents, sounds, and sights that your dog can discover anew. To keep your dog warm, pick up the pace slightly, and if you enjoy snowshoeing, teach your dog to follow in your tracks.

Training: Refreshing a dog’s training may seem like work to you, but it’s entertainment to your pet. Practicing basic and advanced commands in outdoor, snow-covered venues will help reinforce the training by getting your dog accustomed to commands in varied settings.

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

Keep your pets warm this winter

Cold-weather tips for pet owners

Because our furry friends rely on their owners for safety and comfort—particularly in the winter—petswarmdog and cat owners have a heightened responsibility to take precautions to protect their pets during the colder months.

Fortunately, remembering a few easy-to-follow winter tips should help keep your pet healthy and happy this winter. Make sure you watch your pet’s food and water intake, keep it safe from winter hazards and check to see that it has adequate shelter, and your pet will thank you.

 

Interesting Facts About Wood Pellet Fuel

Pellets are a great, economical way to heat your home. Learn some of the facts of why to consider pellets as this winters heat source.

woodpellets

 -A typical homeowner uses 3 tons of pellets per heating season at a   cost of about $825. An average retail price of $250/ton, pellets offer a fuel cost per million BTU of $19.05. To offer a fuel cost of $19.05 per million BTU, # 2 fuel oil and propane would have to be priced at $2.05/gal and $1.36/gal, respectively! (Fuel Value Calculator, USFS, 2008) 

-One ton of wood pellets has the energy equivalency of 2.8 barrels of #2 fuel oil. (Energy Information Administration) 

-Direct thermal conversion of 3 million tons of wood pellets displaces the equivalent of almost 8.5 million barrels of #2 fuel oil. That is 356 million gallons! (Energy Information Administration) 

-Direct thermal conversion of pellets has an efficiency level of approximately 80%.

-Pellet stoves have extremely low particulate emissions due to their high burn efficiency and the density of the fuel (<1 gm/hr). (Environmental Protection Agency) 

-Every ton of pellets used vs. oil reduces CO2 emissions by about 1.5 tons. Total emissions offset this year will be nearly 4.5 million tons of CO2. 

-Pellet distribution costs less than the cost of distributing wood chips

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

Santa’s Coming Back! Pet Photos 12/7

Pet Photo’s Are Back!

santa2

Saturday, December 7th 9am-2pm

Planning holiday festivities?
Put Norwich Agway on the calendar for a fun outing with your pet. Refreshments, raffles, and more!

Cold Weather Preparation Tips

Cold Weather Preparation Tips norwichagwaywinter  Plan ahead to protect your home and property from winter storm damage. Be prepared Keep a bag or two of Vaporizer and a small hand shovel in the trunk of your car during the winter months or at the first sign of inclement weather. The weight of the bags will help your tires to grip the road under slippery conditions. If your car does happen to get stuck, a few handfuls of Vaporizer in front of and behind your tires can give you the added traction you need to break free and will save you from expensive towing costs. Be proactive • Trim back tree limbs that could snap and fall on your roof or gutters. For more extensive pruning,  consult a professional arborist first for advice about how and when to prune and the safe way to    take down large heavy branches • If you receive cable, phone or other services via overhead wires, check to make sure tree limbs  are trimmed away from these areas, too. When in doubt, always phone the provider to make sure it’s safe to get close to overhead wires while you’re trimming. • Fall is a great time to move or remove plants that aren’t thriving. It’s also prime time for planting  bulbs and dividing perennials. Before dividing perennials, check to be sure that fall division is  appropriate (some varieties should be divided in the spring). Make sure that each section has at l least one bud and some roots. • Water trees and shrubs thoroughly a final time before cold weather arrives. • Protect plants from cold temperatures by insulating the roots with a thick layer of mulch. You may  also want to wrap them with a warm covering before and during a severe freeze. Be cautious All trees should also be clear of power lines; however, this is not a do-it-yourself project. If you see a potential problem, call your utility for assistance, and do it now—before the advent of the first winter storm.

-Article courtesy of www.agway.com.

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Keeping Pests Out of the Garden

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Bugs for Dinner? Keeping Pests Out of the Garden

More and more of our Norwich Agway customers are getting into planting home gardens, and for good reasons. Gardening can be rewarding and therapeutic. It can also provide healthier, better tasting fruits and vegetables to those found in a grocery store. A large enough garden can have a significant impact on your grocery bill as well!

Unfortunately, most gardens come with the challenge of dealing with bugs and other pests. There are some simple steps you can take to help with these pests. Here are some suggestions to keeping pests out of your garden.

Eliminate standing water. Look for water in any low lying areas or in empty pots or other containers. You want to minimize breeding opportunities for bugs and they love standing water.

Make your own natural dry pesticide. Mix some black pepper with flour and sift it over and around your plants.

Mix up some natural liquid insecticide. Mix a few teaspoons of liquid dish detergent in a gallon of water and spray on and around plants. This can help with spider mites and aphids.

Make a natural spider and ant deterrent. Mix together some whole wheat flour, buttermilk and water. Put the liquid into a spray bottle and spray around the base of your plants.

These are some easy, natural steps you can take to help make sure you get to your fruits and vegetables before the pests do. Of course if you have a severe bug problem, or a problem with animals, you may have to take more aggressive steps. Talk to one of our team members at Norwich Agway. They can help guide you through the many pesticides and pest control options available.

Healthy Pets This Summer

Keep Your Pet Healthy this Summer

As the summer heats up, there are some things you should do to help insure your animals stay safe and healthy. Whether you have small animals or are involved in equine activities, the heat can take its toll on pets. Here are our Norwich Agway top tips to keep your pets healthy this summer.

Don’t leave your pet in a car alone. Even for a short period of time with a window cracked, heat in a parked car can increase rapidly and have tragic results.

Make sure your pet is updated on vaccinations. Summertime generally mean a better opportunity for pets to mingle with potential rabies carrying wildlife.

Watch your dog closely when going to the park. Dogs will be tempted by picnic trash like chicken bones and corn cobs that can cause your pet serious issues.

Make sure you keep your windows closed or at least have screens on them to keep your pet from exploring outside on their own.

Watch pets carefully around water and pools. In spite of the fact that most dogs can swim, they are susceptible to drowning.

Make sure your pets get plenty of water during the summer. Just like humans, pets can get overheated and dehydrated. Keep a source of cool, clean water available.

If yours is an outside pet, make sure they have a shady area they can move to during the heat of the day.

Summer is heartworm season so have your dog tested by your vet. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos so they are now at risk.

Groom your pet more often during the summer and keep a close eye out for fleas and ticks.

Play with your pet in the cooler parts of the day to avoid them getting overheated.

Summer offers a great opportunity to enjoy your dog, cat and other pet, but it offers risks as well. Taking some simple pet care steps can keep your pet happy and healthy during the season! Remember, for farm and home, choose Norwich Agway for brands you can trust and people who know!

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