Weíre now past the first day of fall and soon the growing season will end when we get our first killing frost typically by mid-month, a bit later if youíre near the lake.
Fall sanitation is a great way to decrease plant disease, and insect pests in your garden and landscape plants next year. Clean up all dead plant material and add it to your compost pile (if itís diseased we donít recommend composting it).
Fall is also a great time to analyze your soil. Checking soil pH, and essential plant nutrients in the fall gives you more time to plan your lime and fertilizer needs for the next growing season. Results from a soil sample now will help determine if amendments are needed and pH can be brought into the correct range so you are ready to plant next spring. Cornell recommends a re-test every 2 - 3 years to make sure you are achieving and maintaining a healthy balance of nutrients in your soil.
Monthly garden and home grounds tips:
Call 331-8415 or e-mail mgwayne@cornell.edu to ask our Master Gardeners your questions: During the late fall and winter months we receive many questions about insect pests inside homes, tree and shrub pruning and questions from people who want advice that will help them avoid problems theyíve had in their gardens and landscapes in the past.
Provide winter protection for hybrid roses by mounding organic mulch 12 inches deep around the base of the plant, held in place by a frame if necessary. Climbing roses should be untied from their trellis and the canes pinned to the ground using landscape staples and then mulched-cut back rose canes to a manageable length to facilitate mulching.
Garlic planting is best done four to six weeks before the ground freezes. Poke cloves into the soil 2-3 inches deep in the fall. Space 4 inches apart. Apply any mulch only after the ground freezes in order to reduce the chances of rodents nesting in the mulch.
Clean up dead asparagus stalks to reduce places that asparagus beetles are likely to overwinter.
Remove dead foliage from hosta plants to reduce cover where slugs can overwinter.
Potatoes: Harvest potatoes after the vines have died, brush off soil and donít wash them until you are ready to use them. Cure potatoes for 1-2 weeks in a location that is 55-60 degrees and provides high humidity. Store cured potatoes in a dark 40 degree room.
Onions: Harvest 2-3 weeks after tops begin to fade and when most have fallen over. Spread in a single layer in a warm, dry area out of direct sun. After the tops have dried (2 weeks or so) store where they will receive 65 percent humidity and where temperatures are around 35 degrees.
Extra Vegetable Seed: You can store left-over seed but itís important to keep it dry (less than 45†percent humidity) and at cold temperatures (34-45 degrees). When stored properly onion, okra, parsley, and Sweet Corn can be kept for 1 year - beet, leek, and pepper for 2 - asparagus, bean, carrot, celery, lettuce, pea, spinach, and tomato for 3 years - Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, squash, Swiss chard, and turnip for 4 years - and cucumber, endive, muskmelon, and watermelon can be kept for 5 years.
Spring flowering bulbs can be planted until the ground freezes.
Voles and mice are busy getting ready for winter. This is a good time to set out some mouse traps baited with peanut butter if you are bothered with them. Be careful to place the traps where children and pets donít come in contact with them.
Wrap newly planted trees with guards, either the white plastic tubing, or a roll wrap if the tree is larger. Be sure to push the guard into the soil a few inches to bypass burrowing rodents. Remove the wraps in the spring, or you will have borers moving into that nice dark, protected bark.
ó Laurie VanNostrand and the Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Wayne County Master Gardeners