~ 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. Weather.com 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.
To protect perennial plants from winter damage, it is important that
they go into winter with moist soil. It’s 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 28°F. 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
Cut 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 1½ 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