Like Old Times...
I had the opportunity today to go to our old house
and work in the gardens. The
new owner of our old house travels
frequently and called to see if I would help her prepare the
beds for winter. It was fun. It brought back fond memories.
Memories of choosing plants, planting them and caring for them.
So many of them have been there for years and
faithfully return each year. I found it rewarding to be
working in a garden I was so familiar with. Sometimes I wish
that I would have moved everything from the
old garden to our new house. The gardens at our new house
are not yet developed so I don't get much of a chance to toil in
the dirt. In time my new gardens will too become something I
love. It is easy to miss a garden that is so well into its
One of the
things I noticed while gardening on this beautiful 82˚
fall day was how dry everything is. I left a note for my friend
and told her to try to be a bit more diligent in watering. You
could see the grass showing signs of stress due to lack of
moisture and the garden soil was very dry. If I have said it
once I have said it a million times,
"You have got to water".
Mother Nature doesn't always provide us with the amount of
moisture needed. Which means... we have to make it
happen. So get out those hoses, turn on that irrigation system
and water away.
To protect perennial plants from winter
damage, it is important that they go into winter with moist
soil. Itís been a warm, dry fall in many areas of Kansas, so
consider watering. Although all perennial plants will benefit
from watering during a dry fall, it is especially important for
evergreens because moisture is easily lost from the foliage and
newly planted trees and shrubs due to limited root systems.
A good, deep watering with moisture reaching
at least a foot down into the soil is much better than several
light sprinklings that just wet the top portions of the soil.
This will ensure that the majority of roots have access to
water. The roots that actually absorb water are killed when the
soil temperature reaches 28˚F.
Those near the surface do not last long in our Kansas City
winters. We must rely on roots that are deeper, and provide
moisture for them to absorb. Depth of watering can be checked
with a metal rod or wooden dowel. Either instrument will easily
penetrate moist soil but will stop when dry soil is reached.
The Not So Hardy...
frost is behind us and our first hard freeze is not far away.
It's time to do something with those non-hardy bulbs we planted
last spring. Here's what to do:
Cut the tops of dahlia plants back to about 3 inches
above the soil. Then dig the roots
out of the ground, being careful not to break the neck.
Place the root clumps upside down
and allow them to dry for several hours before storing.
Cut gladiolus tops back close to the base, leaving no more than
an inch or so of the stem. Remove the excess soil from the
corms. Spread the corms out in a well-ventilated place, such
as a garage, for about three weeks. Once dried thoroughly,
remove the old corms, stems and husks and discard them. The
healthy new corms are then ready for storing.
Cut back canna stems to about 6 inches. Dig the rhizomes out
of the ground and dry for a few hours in the sun. Then bring
them in for storage.
Dig tuberous begonias, tops and all, after frost blackens the
tops. Put them in a frost-free place for a week or 2 for
drying. Once dry, cut the tops back to about 3 inches from the
tuber. Let tubers dry for about 2 more weeks. Then break off
the stem stubs and shake the excess soil from the tubers.
Dahlias, cannas, and begonias can be stored surrounded by
vermiculite or peat moss in a shallow box. Gladioli should be
stored in a paper bag.
If slugs were a problem this year, clean up vegetable gardens
and perennial borders very thoroughly. Dry autumn weather sends
these mollusks searching for damp hiding places. If you deprive
them of moist areas that they can use to stay alive, you can
significantly decrease the potential for damage next year.
Get your roses ready for winter by
cutting them back to about 36 inches. Mound mulching material
(compost, straw, leaves, etc...) at least 12 inches deep around
the remaining stems to provide protection from freezing and soil
heaving. Next spring you'll cut back any of the wood that didn't
survive the winter and your roses will be ready for another great
Your shears and loppers are probably getting a good workout
as you tidy up the garden and landscape. Keep them in good
working order by wiping them with a rag dipped in paint thinner
to remove sticky resins. Regular sharpening and a periodic
thorough oiling will help the better tools last forever.
Mice + Mulch = Mischief...
Mice and other rodents like to creep around and underneath
mulched areas. Who can blame them? It's warm there! But they
can be mischievous little creatures too. To prevent them from
gnawing on your tree trunks and shrubs keep mulch pulled back
several inches from the bases of your trees and shrubs.
A November application of fertilizer is extremely important
to keep your lawn healthy and looking good this fall and next
year. Late fall Nitrogen promotes good root development,
enhances storage of energy reserves, and extends color retention
this fall. Most of the benefits from late fall Nitrogen will be
seen next spring and summer with earlier green-up, improved
density, and improved tolerance to diseases and other stresses.
Apply near or after your last mowing of the year, but while grass
is still green. Timing is not overly critical as there may be a
month or more between your last mowing and the time the grass
turns brown or goes under snow cover. Generally
Thanksgiving is a good target fertilzing date
but because it's so late this year we'll shoot for any time in
the first few weeks of November. Use
a soluble Nitrogen source such as urea, ammonium nitrate, or
ammonium sulfate and apply 1 to 1Ĺ lbs. N/1000 sq. ft.
"A solitary maple on
a woodside flames in single scarlet, recalls nothing so much as
the daughter of a noble house dressed for a fancy ball, with the
whole family gathered round to admire her before she goes."