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
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This Week's Photos

~ November 3, 2010 ~

Gettin' Chilly Out There...
What a beautiful day to be outside! I am exhausted as my day was filled with cutting back roses, raking, draining the fountain and yes... acorn pick-up. My Homerun roses were out of control so I gave them a good prune. You can see by the pictures that I had to use my big pruners to do the initial cut and then I went back in and did a little more clean-up with my hand pruners. It was a prickly job. It is a great time to cut back Knockouts too. Both of these species grow like crazy so don't be afraid to be aggressive. I cut my Homerun roses back last fall and spring and they almost doubled in size. It is hard to believe it is the first week of November and they are still in full bloom. It pained me to cut off all of those beautiful blooms so instead of tossing them, I put them in a vase and brought them inside. They are simply gorgeous!

It looks as if it is going to be quite chilly the next two mornings. Tomorrow morning and Friday morning will be at freezing, maybe a little above. It is November so I guess it is to be expected. It looks as if we will see the temperatures bounce back up during the day. Temperatures will be back into the mid 60's and even 70's. Warm smile :-) No complaint here as I will try to milk this mild weather as long as I can.

Don't forget to fall back on Sunday morning. Dark so early... UGH! The days become shorter and that makes me pretty unhappy. It's hard to be as happy about things when its dark outside. Wouldn't you agree?

~ 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.

"A little peace in an orchard grew - A little peach of emerald hue;
Warmed by the sun and wet by the dew, It grew."

~ Eugene Field



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