Winter Bird Feeding

Mourning doves, finches, chickadees, juncos and other birds rely on your kindness for feeding them in the winter. (Photo: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock).

To celebrate the season, sing along with me (with apologies to the original version of the carol). In the final days of Christmas, the garden calls to me:

Twelve seeds a sprouting
In late winter, change up your garden by starting your own seeds. You’ll expand your varieties beyond the choices everyone is offered and have a garden custom fitted to your taste or pleasure.

Eleven pipes a bursting
If you didn’t get your backflow preventers wrapped before the arctic blast in November, take time to do so now. Burst pipes are common in January freezes, so swaddle the backflow device with R13 building insulation or towels, three to four inches thick, wrapping the pipe all the way to the ground. Cover it all with plastic, then secure it with duct tape.

Ten deer a leaping
In winter when food is scarce, deer, elk or moose can wreak havoc on thin barked trees and nibble shrubs to shreds. Protect the plants with fencing rings to keep the animals away.

Nine new varieties
Peruse garden catalogs for ideas on new varieties to try, such as Blue Prince pumpkins or Early Resilience tomato. New introductions from around the globe means greater choices to add a thrill to your garden.

Eight mounds for mulching
Make sure your roses and perennials are snugged in with a four inch layer of mulch. This prevents the ground from cycling between freeze and thaw, plus it helps retain moisture in the summer. Mulch around sapling trees and shrubs, too, being careful to keep the mulch about two inches away from the truck so rodents, insects and disease organisms can’t tuck themselves up against the bark.

Seven squirrels a digging
Cover places where bulbs are planted with chicken wire to prevent the pesky critters from digging up your hyacinths, tulips and crocus.

Six geese a laying
They also waddle, stomp and chase people away from public areas and golf courses, all the while leaving loads of excrement as calling cards. Give them a wide berth if walking past; they are aggressive in defending against threats.

Five fruitful months
With a short growing season, 150 days, choose your fruit trees wisely. Look for varieties with long chilling requirements so they flower after most of our frost has passed, but mature and ripen early enough that the fruit is ready before fall.

Four dry weeks
Give trees and shrubs a big drink every month if we don’t’ get rain or snow. This helps prevent winter desiccation of branches, needles or evergreen leaves, and promotes good woody plant health. Be sure to disconnect the hose from the faucet once you’ve finished watering.

Three French drains
Lay plans to redirect rainwater across your landscape to keep the foundation of your home dry while watering your plants.

Two mourning doves
Plus finches, chickadees, juncos, and other birds relying on your kindness for feeding them in winter.

And a gift card to our favorite store!

By Carol A. O’Meara. Carol is an Extension Agent – Horticulture Entomology at Colorado State University Extension Boulder County. For more information contact CSU Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6377, e-mail [email protected] or visit