This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Pre-Winter Watering ~ Winter Rose Protection ~ Fertilizer Finale
~ Help For The Not So Hardy ~ Keep Your Cutters Clean ~ This Week's Photos
~ Slug Solution ~ Mice + Mulch = Mischief ~ Inspiration
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Feature Articles

~ All About Composting
~ All About Mulch
~ Worm Composting
~ Houseplant Care
~ When to Start
Seeds Indoors
~ Seed Starting Indoors
~ Vegetable Garden Calendar
~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


Shrub Pruning Calendar
~ Pruning Clematis 
~ Gardening in the Shade
~ Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~ Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
~ Preparing for a Soil Test
~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~ Growing Herbs
~ When to Harvest Vegetables
~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
~ Organic Pesticides & Biopesticides
~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
~ Pruning Trees
~ Pruning Shrubs
~ Planting Trees
~ Deer Resistant Plants
~ Trees that Survived the Storm
~ Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner
~ More...
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This Week's Photos

~ November 5, 2008 ~

Family Yard Day...
Much to the dismay of our children Sunday was family yard day (photos). I think Sam Parker was the only one who thoroughly enjoyed himself. He would laze around in the leaves and occasionally play chase so to him it was just another carefree day. To the rest of us it was a long day of watching the leaves pour from the trees. My son Noah said it best, "What? I just mowed over that part of the yard. Where did all of those leaves come from?" That's my boy. He, like his mother loves the feel of accomplishment and order so when you have worked really hard only to find that you have to go back and do it again is frustrating. I so know how he feels. I spent all day yesterday toiling with the rake. The weather was perfect and it was great to be outside but I was exhausted by days end. I only worked in the backyard so the front yard is next on the list. Most of the leaves will be down within the next couple of weeks and I will be grateful.

It was sunny and warm yesterday with a bit of humidity in the air. Much of the same today. It looks as if there is a cold front headed our way. Strong storms are expected throughout the Midwest today and into this evening. We need the rain. I was surprised yesterday how dry everything was. I would like to see a good, slow soaking rain. says we have a 60% chance of rain so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If not I will need to get out the hose as we have already had our irrigation system blown out and shut down for the winter. It is so important to keep all plantings watered when Mother Nature is not cooperating. If it means I have to drag the hose around then so be it.

~ Shelly   

Pre-Winter Watering...
To protect perennial plants from winter damage, it is important that they go into winter with moist soil. Its 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 28F. 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.


Help For The Not So Hardy...
Our first freeze is behind us and more are on the way. So, it's time to do something with those non-hardy bulbs we planted last spring. Here's what to do:

  • Dahlias
    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.
  • Gladiolus
    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.
  • Canna
    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.
  • Tuberous Begonias
    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.

Slug Solution...
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.


Winter Rose Protection...
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 growing season.

Keep Your Cutters Clean...
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.

Fertilizer Finale...
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 1 lbs. N/1000 sq. ft.

"If it is true that one of the greatest pleasures of gardening lies in looking forward, then the planning of next year's beds and borders must be one of the most agreeable occupations in the gardener's calendar. This should make October and November particularly pleasant months, for then we may begin to clear our borders, to cut down those sodden and untidy stalks, to dig up and increase our plants, and to move them to other positions where they will show up to greater effect. People who are not gardeners always say that the bare beds of winter are uninteresting; gardeners know better, and take even a certain pleasure in the neat- ness of the newly dug, bare, brown earth."

~ Vita Sackville-West



Tectonic Landscaping

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