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Webb Weekly is a family-oriented newspaper direct mailed to over 58,000 homes each week.

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280 Kane St. STE #2
South Williamsport, PA
United States

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The Roving Sportsman… Prepping for Spring

Could it be that Old Man Winter is finally folding up his tent and leaving our area? Warmer temperatures and (hopefully) clearer skies seem to be coming our way and the official first day of spring is actually March 20 this year. We can now look forward to more time out of doors enjoying some

Could it be that Old Man Winter is finally folding up his tent and leaving our area? Warmer temperatures and (hopefully) clearer skies seem to be coming our way and the official first day of spring is actually March 20 this year. We can now look forward to more time out of doors enjoying some springtime activities.

Habitat Improvement work is something that we can be accomplishing throughout the year, but the next week or so should provide us with the opportunity to achieve a unique task that Mother Nature will give us a hand with. I am referring to “frost seeding.” This is the process whereby we apply clover seed to established food plots and then let Mother Nature do her part. It works like this.

During the next week or so, as daytime temperatures go above freezing and nighttime temperatures fall below freezing, the upper surface of the soil cracks open during the overnight freezing and then closes up as the daytime temperatures rise above freezing. This cycle occurs daily – as long as there is freezing at night and thawing during the day. This recurring opening and closing provide us with a unique opportunity.

If we apply clover seed to an already existing food plot of clover, the newly applied seed – as this cycle occurs – will work its way into the upper surface of the soil at an ideal depth for germination and growth. If there is still some snow remaining, or if a new snowfall should occur, the seed will still work its way down through the snow and into the upper surface of the soil. These clover patches can then be limed and fertilized in the springtime, and as per the recommendations from a soil sample testing.

This process of “frost seeding” can also be used to freshen up a lawn area with grass seed. Clover seed is a round, hard and small seed that penetrates well into the cracks that occur during freezing. Grass seed, however, is not as smooth and thus will not penetrate quite as well – but it will work. You may have to plan to overseed grass seed by about 25 – 30 % since it does not penetrate as well. Consult with your local seed supplier as to rates of application for either the clover or grass seed.

This is also a good time to survey your young seedlings for any winter damage, either from mice and moles or from deer. If any of them have been girdled at the base by mice, they will simply have to be replaced, as they will not survive. Those that may have been damaged by deer are more than likely salvageable. Take the time now to prune out any damaged branches and to shape the tree for ideal growth. This is also a great time to apply a cupful or two of 10-10-10 fertilizer to young seedlings. Scatter the fertilizer in a ring a foot or so around the trunk. With larger, more mature seedlings, the fertilizer should be scattered in a ring under the outer edge of the limbs.

If you are fortunate enough to have older, well-established apple trees on your property, survey them as well for any damage that may have occurred from snow or ice accumulation. Remove any damaged or broken limbs, as they will otherwise be vulnerable to insects or disease. These trees should also be daylighted, meaning that any seedlings or small trees that are under the outer edges of its branches should be removed. Any seedling or tree growing there only serves to take away nutrients and moisture from the tree you are working on.

Finally, also under the heading of habitat improvement, you can list bluebird boxes. While bluebirds naturally nest within our forests, fortunately for us, they also like to nest in man-made boxes that are placed on posts in open fields. Bluebirds are busy this time of year locating and establishing nesting sites so that new boxes can be placed out now. If you have existing boxes, remember that bluebirds prefer to set up house in clean empty boxes, so take time to remove any previous nesting material in preparation for the new occupants.

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