Ask the Experts

Wisconsin State Farmer

Q: What is the best way to overwinter perennials that I have not yet planted?

A: If the plants are still in their nursery pots, I have had success simply placing them on the ground and covering with a good foot of leaves ot straw. You may want to place some mouse bait around them to prevent damage. Ideally, planting them in a temporary location in the ground is best. A simple trench will do. Then, in the spring, you can move them to their permanent location.

Q: Can you identify a bird? It is small and gray with a pointed head?

A: This bird is likely a tufted titmouse. Related to the black-capped chickadee, the tufted titmouse is slightly larger, with an overall great body and a crested head. These birds are slowly expanding their range north in Wisconsin.

Q: I haven't seen any cardinals at my feeder. Has there been a population drop?

A: Not that I am aware. Cardinals are fairly common, if not abundant in most areas. The lack of cardinals at your feeder probably has more to do with the weather conditions than the population. It has been a very warm fall and there is plenty of food for these birds in the wild. Once colder weather moves in and snow piles up, you should start to see them appear.

Q: Can I start my seeds inside?

A: This depends on the type of seeds you are trying to start. For most garden crops and flowers, it is too early at this time. Normally, you want to start them 4 to 12 weeks before the last expected frost. You can determine when to start them indoors by reading the information on the seed packet. It will tell you when to sow indoors. For some of crops, this may be as long as three months before planting outside.

garden seeds