Monday, October 19, 2009

Garden Chores Before the Snow Flies

Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

Today I have a hodge podge of garden and landscape tips for this time of year. I know some of you have had snow already! We haven't had snow but it was 25 degrees F. Sunday morning. Brrrr...

You can mulch and protect your perennials from harsh winters and the wildlife. After you get a few hard frosts you can add a one inch layer of straw, hay or chopped leaves. This will give the plants a little extra protection. If you've noticed little chew marks on your shrubs or perennials that don't die all the way down after frost, you may want to put a circle of chicken wire around them for the winter. Once you buy the wire you can store it til the next winter when you remove it in the spring. It will keep the rabbits and other wildlife from chewing the bark or stems. This is especially good for newer shrubs or trees that haven't completely established yet.

It's very important to remove any diseased plants and either burn or discard them before winter. The same goes for fallen fruit. You don't want to let it set all winter where the organisms could stay alive til next spring and cause problems.

Did you grow dahlias this year? They have "tubers" sort of like day lilies, but they won't survive heavy frosts. When the frost damages/browns their leaves, cut off the stems 5-6 inches above the tubers/roots. Dig up the clumps, very gently remove from the dirt and rinse them off with water. Allow them to dry outside in a sheltered place (no sun or harsh wind) just until they are dried. Store the clumps whole in a basement or attached garage where it doesn't get below freezing (35 degrees F. or so). You can place them in paper bags, boxes or tubs filled with peat moss or sawdust. If you are using a plastic tub make sure it's not so tight that air can't get in.

If you have had a Christmas cactus for any length of time, you know how hard it is to encourage blooms. Well, unless you are my mom who has the magic touch. The plants will need about 13 hours of darkness in each 24 hour period, and a temperature of about 50-60 degrees F. If you have tips that have worked for you let us know!

We have tips on growing Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus on OFL:

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