This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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November 14, 2007


Roses Still Red?
It is hard to believe that the middle of November is upon us and there are still roses in bloom. We have been through several frosts, one freeze and there are still many annuals alive and thriving as well. How is it that these plants are still alive? The answer is quite simple. In many gardens there are areas called micro-climates. These areas are protected from the elements, may be close to a source of warmth, and may receive more sunlight. Pay close attention to these places. When it starts to snow (which it will) you will notice that the snow will melt faster in these areas. This is a good thing to know when planting so make sure to take notes. This will give you the knowledge you will need when planting or transplanting in the spring.

Well, guess what? There is no rain in the forecast for the next seven days. It is dry and you need to water. Just because it is cold doesn't mean that the garden does not need the moisture. So if your irrigation system has been shut off pull out the hoses and give everything a good drink. I watered all day on Monday and the lawn in particular looks great. Watering is key even through the winter months especially for newly planted trees and shrubs.

~ Shelly  

Bunny Love...
During the winter months, rabbits often gnaw on the bark of many woody plants. Heavy browsing can result in the complete girdling of small trees and small branches clipped off at snow level.  Apple, pear, crabapple and serviceberry are frequent targets of rabbits.  Small trees with smooth, thin bark are the most vulnerable.  Other frequently damaged plants include the winged euonymus or burning bush, Japanese barberry, dogwood, roses and raspberries.

The best way to prevent rabbit damage to young trees is to place a cylinder of hardware cloth (1/4 inch mesh wire fencing) around the tree trunk. The hardware cloth cylinder should stand about 1 to 2 inches from the tree trunk and 20 inches above the ground. The bottom 2 to 3 inches should be buried beneath the soil. Small shrubs, roses and raspberries can be protected with chicken wire fencing.

Cold Cuts...
Now that we've got a couple of killing frosts under our belts it's time to do some cutting back of dormant perennials.  Cut them back to about 3 inches above the soil surface.  Once the ground is frozen, they can be mulched to guard against displacement due to soil heaving.  These simple steps will help ensure a successful show of foliage and color next season.

Well Watered For Winter...
For maximum winter protection, Savvygardeners need to water landscape evergreens thoroughly once every week or so until the ground freezes.  Evergreens continue to lose moisture from their foliage all winter, but once the ground is frozen, they'll be unable to take up enough water to replace it.  Sending them into winter well watered reduces the potential for damaged foliage.  There's more... broadleaved and tender evergreens exposed to drying winds and sun may need to be shaded on the south and southwest sides to reduce moisture loss and foliage injury.

Cold Storage At Your Feet...
Looking for a good place to store root crops?  Just look down!  Carrots, radishes, turnips and Jerusalem artichokes store well outdoors in the ground.  Just before the ground freezes, bury them under a deep layer of leaves or straw to protect the ground from freezing.  Simply harvest them as needed during winter by pulling back this protective mulch and digging them up.  Just make sure you replace the mulch after each visit!

When Fruits And Vegetables Don't Get Along...
If you decide to store your vegetables indoors (instead of in the ground like we mentioned above) make sure you don't place them with any apples or pears.  As they sit these fruits give off ethylene gas which speeds up the breakdown of vegetables and causes them to develop off-flavors.  Yuck!

Preparing for Winter...
Each year we are asked for a reminder of what to do to prepare for winter. While recent temperatures have been up and down, there is no doubt that permanent cold weather is around the corner. Take advantage of the current mild weather and prepare for winter now, while you can still work in relative comfort outdoors!  You'll find a handy checklist in our feature article, Preparing for Winter in the Garden...

Wild Things In Lawns...
Wild onion and wild garlic are difficult-to-control weeds. These weeds look very similar to the garden variety onion except the stems of the wild type are much thinner and do not grow as tall as the garden variety. The most effective method for controlling onion and garlic is to create a dense turf through proper fertilization and regular mowing, thereby making these weeds less noticeable and less problematic. Wild onion and garlic die back to underground bulbs during early summer, but bulbs will germinate during the fall and winter. Selective chemical control is difficult and normally ineffective, so co-existing with these plants is often the best choice. One method is to apply 2,4-D immediately after mowing so the herbicide can enter through the cut leaves. This will usually burn back the leaves but may not kill the underground bulb, thus multiple years of applications will be needed.


"There's always something rough and tumble about planting - because with our clumsy implements we must reach from our atmospheric element down into another, down into the darkness of the soil."

~ Stanley Crawford

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