HAPPENINGS: 6 ways to get ready for winter in Okaloosa County

Janice Lynn Crose | Special to the News Bulletin/USA TODAY NETWORK

CRESTVIEW — Now that the weather is changing and we are in the month of November, the holidays and cold weather are just around the corner. There are some tasks that we can do now so that we don't feel so stressed once the holidays are upon us. 

Just this week, I had to switch the air conditioning off and turn on the heater. Here are some other things to make the transition to winter easier.

Make sure to replace your old furnace filter with a clean filter as we head into the winter months. It is recommended that our heater filters be changed every 30 to 60 days, depending on how much dust (and fur, for those with pets) your filter collects. As the lady at Lowe's told me, "It is cheaper to buy filters than to replace your HVAC system."

Protect any plants that might freeze when the weather is under 35 degrees. Plants in containers are especially vulnerable to freezing and should be put in an enclosed patio or covered with an old bed sheet or plastic.

Be sure to remove the covering during the day so the plants get sunlight and make sure the plants on the porch get sun. You can also put a heavier layer of mulch on in-ground plants that may be subject to freezing as this will help protect them. I bring my hibiscus plants in and put them in the bathroom for the winter.

This is also the time to plant your bulbs for spring and summer. If you enjoy cooking with garlic and onions, now is the time to plant them. Flower bulbs should be planted from October through December then you will enjoy beautiful flowers in the spring.

Bulbs that work well in our area are: ranunculus, tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, cannas, gladiolus and daylilies, make sure you mulch them. We are zone 8b, according to the US Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone, so choose your plants and bulbs with that knowledge.

Clean, oil and store your gardening tools so they will be ready for spring and make them readily accessible. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to locate one's trowel or rake.

Clean out your fireplace and have it ready for the winter. Have it professionally inspected for cracks or any other problems annually. If needed, have your flue cleaned professionally. Buy or chop some firewood so that you are ready to have a roaring fire once winter comes.

Your rain gutters probably will need to be cleaned out and may even need some repairs. Go ahead and do this now rather than waiting. Another chore checked off the list. Have your roof inspected before the winter storms begin.

Buy and install faucet covers for those below freezing nights so your pipes don't freeze. These covers are inexpensive and the cost is much less than paying for broken pipes should your water pipes freeze.

These are just a few suggestions for getting ready for the winter. Enjoy the cooler weather and let's be ready for winter, Crestview!

Janice Lynn Crose

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.