October 17, 2007
Rain, Rain, Rain...
UGH! I'm feeling water logged. After the torrential rains on
Saturday and the rains today I would like to think that we have
had enough. I heard this interesting tidbit of information
Sunday night on KMBC-9 news
- year to date we are behind 2006's rainfall by
five inches. Pretty fascinating
numbers. It is easy to think that after receiving 5˝
inches of rain in a 4-day period of
time that it could hardly be possible.
So while part of me is saying "Rain,
rain, go away..."
another part of me is saying, "Embrace the rainy day?" It is OK
to sit around snuggled up in a blanket with a magazine or book.
Idle time has not always been my friend but as I grow older I am
learning to appreciate it more. Some say you become wiser the
older you get. Maybe
I'm on my way.
I would like to say
that I have started to plant the 700 bulbs we have purchased but
then I would be lying. Of course it
has been rainy and wet (sounds like a good excuse) but the truth
is I am a procrastinator. It is not uncommon for me to wait
until the 11th hour to do most things. Unfortunately at my age I
don't see myself changing anytime soon. We have a soccer
tournament in Topeka this weekend so it probably won't happen
then (darn) but I am committed to planting them so the sooner I
start the better off I will be. Planning ahead, maybe I should
make not procrastinating my New
Potted Plants Survive?
We've had several readers ask whether potted plants can survive
outdoors through the winter. This depends on so many factors. The
size of the planters and the thickness of the planter material
are important. If the pots are big enough to keep the soil from
freezing then some cold-hardy plants will survive. The other
winter. Mild winters will favor plants in large pots.
Microclimate - Sunny
locations will allow the soil (and concrete) to heat up and
keep the soil from freezing.
As a rule in
the Kansas City area, choose plants that have a cold hardiness of
at least Zone 3. Also make sure there is adequate moisture
available through the winter.
Iris are known for a couple of very common problems: a fungus
disease known as iris leaf spot and an insect named iris borer.
Though both cause problems in the spring, now is the time to
start control measures. Both the fungus and eggs of the borer
overwinter on old, dead leaves. Removing iris leaves and other
garden debris from the iris bed this fall reduces populations of
these pests. This can significantly reduce problems next spring.
Fall is the time to prepare garden soil for next spring’s
vegetable garden. The spring season is often wet making it
difficult to work soil without forming clods that remain
the rest of the season. By contrast, fall is usually drier
allowing you more time to work the soil when it is at the
correct soil moisture content. Even if you work soil wet in the
fall and form clods, the freezing and thawing that takes place
in the winter will break them down, leaving a mellow soil the
often hide in garden debris. If that debris is worked into
the soil, insects will be less likely to survive the winter.
are also less likely to overwinter if old plants are worked
debris will increase the organic matter content of the soil.
Working the debris into the soil is often easier if you mow
the old vegetable plants several times to reduce the size of
matter (leaves, rotten hay or silage, grass clippings) can
be more effectively added now than in the spring because
there is more time for it to break down before planting.
As a general
rule, add 2 inches of organic material to the surface of the
soil and till it in. Be careful not to overtill. You should end
up with particles like grape nuts or larger. If you work your
garden into the consistency of dust, you have destroyed the soil
Make sure your evergreens are well watered
as we ease into winter. If we go a
10-14 days without significant rain you'll want to give them a
good soaking. This will go a long way to helping them survive a
long cold winter.
As the temperatures start a free fall, many
Savvygardeners find themselves with
tomato plants still loaded with
green or ripening fruit. The goal
of course is to keep those tomatoes for as long as
Here's some help.
As tomatoes cannot be stored at
temperatures below 50°
F. You need to find a location that is above 50°
F but as close to 50°
as possible. For most, this will
probably be the coolest part of your basement.
On the afternoon before the first freeze
is forecast pick all the fruit on the
plant that are full-sized
(regardless of color). Discard any with
severe cracks, disease spots, bruises, or that
are otherwise defective. Divide them into three groups:
those that are full-sized and still green, those that are showing
some color, and those that are mostly red or nearly red. Plan to
use the red group first. Layer the
other two groups in a box or carton separated by newspapers so
you can remove tomatoes without having to disturb others in the
As you need
tomatoes, bring some from the "turning
color" group to your kitchen counter
for a few days to allow them to develop their full ripe color.
After this group is used up, begin to use
those from the mature green group. Keep your eye
(and nose) out for tomatoes that are starting to rot and
discard them. The newspaper will absorb juice from rotted
tomatoes without damaging those nearby.
Don't Leave Those Leaves...
Those leaves that are falling all over the region are pretty
but leaving lots of them on your lawn can mean trouble. When
they are dry they shade your grass from much needed fall sun.
When wet they can smother grass turning it yellow and possibly
killing it. Just keep the leaves raked up a few times per week
and you should be fine. Better yet, mow and bag them in your
lawnmower and use the shredded leaves in your garden or compost
Cure For The
As you view your October lawn you
may see a horrifying crop of crabgrass. Much of it has already
gone to seed and the rest will soon follow. The good news is that
crabgrass is an annual. The bad news is that it reseeds freely.
All that stands between you and a lawn of pure crabgrass next
year is pre-emergent herbicide. Be
ready to apply this in April or whenever the weather indicates.
"Now, nature, as I
am only too well aware, has her enthusiasts, but on the whole, I
am not to be counted among them. To put if rather bluntly, I am
not the type who wants to go back to the land; I am the type who
wants to go back to the hotel."