~ October 29, 2008 ~
Tricky and Treaty...
Oh what a glorious day! I took Sam Parker, the family dog, on a particularly long walk. We
couldn't resist enjoying the warmth, smell and the colors that surrounded us. The landscape
is so majestic this time of year. The reds, oranges, yellows, burgundies and greens. Sometimes
it is hard for me to put into words how I feel when I am out in weather like today. It is as if
there is no other place on earth like it. I am going to enjoy it while I can because I know these
days are numbered.
So, we've had our first official freeze. If you did not heed our warning and forgot to cover
any annuals you were trying to hang onto, they probably look awful
(photo). A freeze will take the life
out of warm weather loving annuals in an instant. Here today, gone tomorrow. If you are wanting
to replace your now dead annuals with something that can withstand the cold I recommend pansies.
They seem to hold up even when the temperatures dip into the 30's. If you presently have mums
planted in either pots or the ground they will need to be covered if there is word of another freeze.
They don't mind the cooler temperatures but don't look so hot once they have been bitten by Jack Frost.
This time of year is tricky or treaty, depending on how you look at it.
Late Season Seeding...
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.
After you 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 feature article,
Belated Bulb Burial?
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°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 cool and dry. A 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 grassbefore fall is over. Also, tree leaf cover favors a
damaging winter turf disease called snow mold.
The 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. Research at
Purdue University Extension
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
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh