“Groundwork” column for Dec. 9, 2012

The LSU AgCenter has released its 2013 Get It Growing Lawn & Garden Calendar — the annual publication that offers a mixture of beautiful garden photos and advice targeted specifically to Louisiana gardeners.

Among the calendar’s features, gardening enthusiasts can learn more about gardening with monthly tips from LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.

Seasoned and beginning gardeners, as well as others, will find the calendar is a great resource, and they will enjoy the beautiful photos from Louisiana photographers.

Once again, the LSU AgCenter’s Get It Growing calendar provides useful gardening information chock-full of eye-popping photos of flowers, plants and gardens. The calendar makes a great gift for the gardener on your list or for anyone who enjoys beautiful photos of lawn and garden scenes.

In addition to its gardening tips for each month of the year, the full-color, 32-page calendar also features a special section on Louisiana Super Plants; definitions and explanations for a variety of gardening terms; a how-to section on controlling snails and slugs; and more.

The calendar is available for online orders at http://www.LSUAgCenter.com/GetItGrowingCalendar. In addition, orders can be placed by calling (225) 578-4646. The calendar is also available through a variety of bookstores, garden centers and gift shops across the state just in time for holiday gift giving.

Wood check

As you gather up the wood for your fire, remember those perfectly seasoned logs may still be home to all sorts of six- and eight-legged friends.

Storing firewood inside the house can bring ants, spiders, roaches and even millipedes indoors. People often notice an increased number of ants, spiders and roaches crawling across their living-room floors after bringing firewood inside the house.

It doesn’t mean that your house is infested; it just means you brought them in with firewood. There’s no reason to treat inside your house with insecticides to get rid of them; you probably just need to leave your wood outside until it’s time to use it in the fire.

These insects likely won’t start nests inside your house unless you leave a pile of wood on your hearth for a long period of time, but they could show up as uninvited guests at your next holiday party.

Store chemicals

This time of year children and grandchildren snooping around the house and garage looking for hidden Christmas presents may find something you don’t want them to — household chemicals and pesticides.

Make this holiday season a safe one by conducting a walk through your home and garage to guarantee all chemicals are properly stored.

All household chemicals and pesticides pose a danger when improperly stored. Likely places for storage are under the kitchen sink and bathroom sink, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, in the laundry room, and in the carport and workshop.

Commonly found chemicals inside are glass cleaner, metal and furniture polish; ammonia, bleach, soap and detergent; aerosol bug spray; mice and rat bait; toilet bowl cleaner; drain cleaner; perfume; hair spray; mouthwash; and prescription and over-the-counter medicines; and vitamins.

Outside, either stored in the open or in a building, you’ll find gasoline and other volatile liquids, fertilizer, garden pesticides, fast-drying glue, automotive cleaners and fluids, aerosol sprays, and propane gas tanks.

None of these commonly used storage areas provide safe storage from young children. Store out of reach and with some form of security. A simple latch or plastic door locks will childproof cabinet and doors. A lock offers the greatest protection.

Play a word association game with each member of your family. Say the word “chemical” and ask for a response. Is it pesticide?

Say the word “poison” and ask for a response. Is it pesticide? Ask the question, “How does poisoning occur?” and ask for a response. Is it ingestion or swallowing?

A majority of Americans believes most poisonings are caused by swallowing pesticides. But children and adults come into contact with far more chemicals other then those used as pesticides. Reported cases of pesticide poisoning are much less than non-pesticide poisonings.

Count how many different chemicals are in your home and garage.

I have 127 different chemicals. Most of these chemical are cleaning materials, toiletries and medicines. How many are chemical pesticides? I have six pesticides and all are stored outside in a metal cabinet in a locked storeroom. Less than 5 percent of my chemicals are pesticides.

Chemical safety deals with more than just swallowing a chemical. It is concerned with eye safety, inhalation, skin contact, contaminating food preparation areas, fire and misuse. Most reported chemical poisonings do not involve pesticides and do not result from swallowing the material. But do not take any chances.

Help make this holiday season a safe one. Always store chemicals and pesticides in their original containers. Store out of reach of children and pets.

Reseal an opened container immediately. Store the container immediately after mixing or using. Store pesticide bottles and bags in resealable freezer bags. Date all materials when purchased and use within two years. Keep the entire label with the pesticide container. And safeguard your “young snoopers” by childproofing your home.

Got a gardening question? Write to Bob Souvestre, horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter, at Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, or email to bsouvestre@agcenter.lsu.edu, or call Master Gardeners at (225) 763-3990.