If the temperatures stay the way they have been for the last
couple of days, my days are numbered for being outside. You see,
I dislike the cold. So much so that once the temperatures start
hovering in the 20's continuously, neighbors may not see me for
days. I think I'm kind of like a bear. I go into hibernation
mode and it really does last until late February
or early March. By then I have read every gardening
magazine published and the itch to be outside is unbearable. So
for now I will try to be diligent in getting a few things
wrapped up before it becomes intolerable which I fear is right
around the corner.
forget that just because it is cold doesn't
mean you don't have to water. We just had our irrigation
system blown out and turned off and I
know that I will be slinging hoses around if there is a lack of
rainfall. Make sure to water everything you've planted this
fall. Trees and shrubs are particularly important. I think the
lack of watering is one of the biggest mistakes that we as
gardeners make during the winter. Make a mental reminder - if
it's dry you have water!
Late Season Seeding...
Last week we talked about the fact that it's too late to put
down grass seed. If you didn't get seed down but need new grass
you currently have two options:
can be successful in areas not susceptible to erosion. Anytime
after Thanksgiving and through March you can lay grass seed
with the expectation that it will germinate and grow when
spring arrives. Wintertime precipitation coupled with the
soil's freeze/thaw cycles will aid in proper setting of seeds.
Sod can be used successfully during
almost any time of the year that the ground isn't frozen. The
trick is getting it established. The secret is water.
Keep it soaked the first week. It should
be so wet that you cannot walk on it.
Keep it wet the
second week. It should be very squishy under foot.
Keep it moist the
third week. Water lightly every day.
Make sure it gets
about an inch of water per week thereafter until it's
Christmas Tree B & B...
It may seem a little early to be thinking about Christmas
trees but if you are considering a live, balled & burlapped tree
that will be planted after the holiday you should start planning
now. It's time now to choose the planting spot and, more
importantly, dig the hole for it. If you wait too long the
ground may be frozen by the time you think about it again.
dig the hole (preferably twice as wide as the
tree's root ball) fill it with leaves or straw to protect
against any early freezing.
You might also cover it with plywood if
the hole presents an injury or accident risk. Keep the dirt from
the hole in a garage or shed so you have some loose soil to use
Time For Trees...
And speaking of trees.. now is a great
time to plant one (or more). While the visible part of the tree
will be dormant, the roots will remain active and growing through
the winter. This assures that the tree will be well established
and ready for spring and summer next year. Need help?
Just read our newest feature article,
Seed Saving Savvy...
After you have collected seeds from your favorite flowers and
vegetables be careful how you store them. The
two words that best sum up the right conditions are
seed is actually a living infant plant with a limited amount of
food to sustain it until it germinates. Warm storage
temperatures may let it consume too much food and damp
temperatures may encourage mold or bacteria to use some of the
food and kill the plant. Dry seeds in a paper envelope will not
trap moisture, and kept in a cool and dry place, will survive
well so you may plant them next year.
Long Live Geraniums...
If you want to keep your garden geraniums
over the winter you would do well to treat them as houseplants.
Before they get damaged by frost cut them back to about half
their original size. Using only the healthy, insect-free plants
individually pot them up using dry potting soil. Water them
thoroughly and as needed to keep them somewhat moist (not wet)
through winter. Pinch back the tips of shoots once or twice to
promote branching and prevent weak growth.
Mow/Mulch Those Leaves...
The trees are rapidly dropping their
leaves and it is important to prevent a heavy layer of leaves
from building-up on your turf before winter. Heavy layers of
tree leaves will shade the grass and
can actually smother and kill grass
before fall is over.
Also, tree leaf cover favors a
damaging winter turf disease called snow mold.
easiest way to dispose of leaves is to simply mow them into the
turf. Regular mowing during the fall will chop the leaves into
small pieces and allow them to filter into the turf.
and other universities shows that tree leaves can be
mulched without any detrimental effects on the soil or turf.
In fact, leaf mulching may help
improve the soil. Mulching leaves with a mower is much
easier than raking, blowing, and/or vacuuming the leaves like
so many of us do. Plus it disposes of
the leaves without filling up our landfills and saves our cities
thousands of dollars in disposal costs.
What's not to like?
"Yesterday I sat in
a field of violets for a long time perfectly still, until I
really sank into it - into the rhythm of the place, I mean -
then when I got up to go home I couldn't walk quickly or evenly
because I was still in time with the field."
Anne Morrow Lindbergh