Monday, November 2, 2009

Cool Weather Garden Tips

So dull and dark are the November days. The lazy mist high up the evening curled, and now the morn quite hides in smoke and haze; the place we occupy seems all the world. ~John Clare

I'm hoping for some sunny days this week to do last minute fall garden chores, so I thought I would share some of the things we can do for our landscape this time of year.

Chrysanthemums should be cut back fairly close to the ground once they have stopped blooming and the cuttings can be added to your compost pile. If you have potted mums that you purchased, remove the plant and add to the garden, giving it a hole a little bit bigger than the pot was. After planting, cut as mentioned, water and mulch.

If your peonies, roses or hollyhocks developed diseases such as rust, blight, or anything similar, remove the leaves or branches that were effected and burn them or dispose of them in your waste bin-- don't compost. Do the same things with other plants and trees too. Check your phlox, beebalm (mildew can effect it), dogwoods and lilac. You don't want to prune your spring blooming trees or shrubs, JUST remove the diseased parts.

This is also the time you'll want to empty out all your outdoor planters, baskets, clay pots and window boxes. Empty the soil into the compost pile and wash the containers with soap and a weak bleach solution before putting into storage where they will stay dry and not freeze. You'll be way ahead in the spring!

Water all of your evergreens deeply one last time before a major freeze. This will help them throughout the winter season.

We all know mulching is great to keep moisture in during the hot months, but it also offers protection during the winter. However, it's really best to wait until the ground starts to freeze but before the blizzards hit. I know-- it's a much colder chore doing it this way, but if you do it too soon you may be making a nice cozy place for mice and other critters to hang out. Mulch can be free organic matter like pine needles, straw, chopped leaves or bark chips/shreds.

If you have planted trees this year you may have been given advice on wrapping the trunks with a paper tree wrap, but it's been found to actually injure trees in many cases. If you do decide to wrap the young trees trunks do it ONLY in the winter and remove it in the spring. You can protect the tree trunks from rodent damage by using plastic guards or mesh wire. It can be from 12 inches to 2 foot tall. If you have very deep snow in the winter you may want to go taller than that. Remove before the tree grows too wide. Also, make sure there is no debris around the tree trunks.

A few notes for warm climates:

Some of you are entering a cooler season but won't have the cold winter many of us do. You can plant bedding plants now such as snapdragons, calendula, ornamental kale or cabbage, and dianthus. Some wildflowers can even be direct seeded now: bluebonnets, rudbeckia, pansies, calendula, candytuft, foxgloves, snapdragons, stock, and sweet alyssum. Calendula is a wonderful cool weather plant and is easily direct seeded!

In locations like Southern Florida vegetables can be grown now such as tomato, endive, escarole, snap beans, potato, peppers, peas, lima bean, collard greens, parsley, celery, turnip, mustard, onions, spinach, lettuce, radish, cabbage, beet, carrot, cauliflower, and broccoli.

One note for warm climate gardeners on bulbs. If you are in Zone 8 or up you will need to chill your spring bulbs before planting. It's usually 10-12 weeks of chilling in the refrigerator.

We have mulching tips from an excerpt on OFL:


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