By Hal Kneen
September 29, 2013
Be on the lookout for migrating mice (Mus musculus) and deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) attempting to find a warm place to overwinter: it may be your home, cabin, garage or barn area.
Mice prefer seed and grains but will eat foods high in fat, protein or sugar. They do not need much water as they get water from the grains and seeds they eat. Mice are inventive in ways to enter or get to foodstuffs. They can jump, gnaw, climb and swim. Studies show that mice normally travel only 10-30 feet from their home to their food sources. Mice have poor eyesight and mainly move and feed at night.
How to control them? Try exclusion using physical barriers. Look around your buildings for any openings larger than one quarter inch. Screening works better than foam fillers, remember they can gnaw. Around piping, fill in using a combination of steel wool and foam fillers. Fix gaps in cement block using concrete or masonry cement. Clean up around the buildings by cutting tall weeds and eliminating hiding areas. Trapping is effective inside a building, especially using snap traps. Set up traps near the walls with the bait end closest to the wall. Newer bait stations can be set up outside the buildings to catch the mice that do not allow the mice to get out of the trap. These are especially needed when we want poisons left outside a food storage or processing area.
Fall is a great time to divide our spring and summer blooming perennial plants. The roots can reestablish in the warm fall soil and get a jump on growing the following spring season. Sow perennial seeds like coneflower, Black Eyed Susan, asters, Joe Pye Weed and milkweed. You may have to cover with netting to keep out critters and birds. The Xerces Society (proponent of native insects and invertebrates) suggests the planting of native plants to encourage the habitat development for native pollinators. Check out their website www.xerces.org and factsheet “Mid-Atlantic Plants for Native Bees”and many other gardens. Fall blooming plants like asters, goldenrod and helenium should wait until spring to be divided. However, get their landscape beds this fall when the soil is so much easier to prepare for early spring planting.
Now is the time to divide and transplant peonies. A plant with 15-20 stems can be divided into three to four divisions, each with 4-6 stems and some of the long carrot like roots. Remember to dig a large hole and incorporate large amounts of compost or well-rottened manure. The plant will probably not be needing moved for another 10-20 years. Plant the large root system with the “red–eyes” (next year’s stem buds) only three quarters to an inch below the soil surface. If planted too deep it may take several years before the peony blooms again.
Reminder to plan to attend the Annual OSU Master Gardener Exchange of Plants and Seeds on October 2, at noon at Dave Diles Park (restored Middleport train station) located in downtown Middleport. Discussion and presentation on planting will begin at 11:30 a.m. Bring plants to share and take home some new ones.
Hal Kneen is the Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Athens/Meigs Counties, Ohio State University Extension.