Save Your Milk Duds...
Today is Halloween and we have been busy this week trying to
get costumes ready. I always seem to
wait until the last minute. Of course,
I often get little help from those I
am trying to get a costume together for. After the all important
question of, "What would you like to be?" the answer never seems
to come easily. I might hear "Well I haven't decided", or "Let's
just go to the store and look around." That is like listening to
nails on a chalkboard. Right, let's just go to the store and
look at video games, baseball cards and Halloween
costumes. I have fallen for that line more than once in my
lifetime. Nevertheless it always seems to work out in the end
but we are often throwing something together on the morning of
Halloween. Not only do I procrastinate in the garden but in my
personal life as well.
The weather will be
great for the ghosts and goblins running about the neighborhoods
this evening. The air is chilly but not too cold and it is nice
and dry. Excellent for a successful night of trick-or-treating.
Lots of leaves swirling around, lit pumpkins on door steps, kids
of all ages out and about. Halloween is fun. The kids love it so
it is hard not to be excited by their enthusiasm. Everyone be
safe and save all of your Milk
Duds for me. (They're my favorite).
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,
Generally, we like to plant hardy
bulbs in October to give them enough time to root before winter.
But it is certainly not too late to plant them now. As long as
the soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F bulbs should
continue root development. Soil temperatures across
our area last week averaged in the
upper 50s to lower 60s.
Although many of
the best bulbs have probably already been purchased, garden
centers may still have a good selection. Be sure to select
large, firm bulbs that have not begun to sprout.
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?
"To take a spade or
a spading fork on a crisp fall day and without undue haste or
backbreaking effort to turn over slice after slice of
sweet-smelling earth can bring rich rewards to the gardener who
fully understands just what he is accomplishing."