~ November 11, 2009 ~
I'll Come Back As A Plant...
It was hard for me to break away from being outside today to sit down at my computer to write this editorial. This weather is amazing!
I think October and November switched on the calendar this year. October's weather smacked us with some brutally cold temperatures and
so far November has felt a bit like Indian Summer. I surely could survive the winter if the weather were to stay like this. I will
take one day at a time and continue to enjoy the beauty that each one brings.
So, how about all of those annuals still hanging in there? I was out walking with a friend yesterday and noticed that there are still
many annuals and perennials in bloom. This weather is fooling our plants. Most plants think that it is time to sleep but the weather
is suggesting that they keep growing and blooming. It must be hard to be a plant this time of year.
Should I go to sleep or should I
stay awake for a few more days to enjoy the sun? I should have been a plant. I often feel as if I too want to squeeze as much of the
warmth out of the ground before winter arrives. I think I'll be a plant in my next life. I think it would suit me well.
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
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...
Need 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!
Note: This is not an effective storage method where rodents, rabbits, or
other critters are present and hungry.
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.
"Of all the ingredients we employ in the creation of a garden,
scent is probably the most potent and the least understood. Its effects can be either direct and immediate,
drowning our senses in a surge of sugary vapour, or they can be subtle and
delayed, slowly wafting into our consciousness, stirring our emotions and colouring our
~ Stephen Lacey