The hard freeze that we recently received signaled the end of the growing season for most plants and tells us itís time to finish up with fall garden and home ground tasks. Itís important to include removal of garden debris in your fall tasks as this can decrease plant disease problems next year and removes overwintering spots for garden pests.
This is also a good time to think about the past growing season. If you werenít satisfied with how your lawn, gardens, or foundation plantings did this year let us know. We may have a solution.
I know weíre all ready for a break from outdoor work but, for most of us, itís not time to relax yet. Hopefully the tips and articles below will help you finish out the year with your gardens and landscapes in good shape. Weíve also included an article on earthworms that you may find interesting. As always, if you have questions please feel free to contact us.
Gardening Hotline: Winter hours are now in effect. During the 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 next year. If you have a question please leave it on our voicemail 331-8415 ext. 107 or e-mail us at and include a daytime phone number where we can reach you with any additional questions we may have.
Samples: Insects should be in a sealed plastic or glass container (so they wonít get crushed) and plant samples should be in a sealed plastic bag if possible. Remember to label them with your name and a daytime phone number where we can reach you. We also offer soil pH testing for $3 per sample and have mailers available for soil nutrient analysis testing.
ē Monthly garden and home grounds tips:
If your garden didnít do well this year or your foundation plantings were off color you may want to get a pH or soil nutrient analysis test on the soil from those areas.
Get roses ready for winter. Cut back long whips of roses and protect Hybrid roses by covering the graft point with a mound of bark chips, compost, straw, evergreen boughs, or other protective mulch. Rose cones help, too. Contact us for more on care of roses.
Dahlias should be removed and stored for the winter.
Spring flowering bulbs can be planted until the ground freezes.
Erect burlap screens to help protect newly planted evergreens from damaging winter winds.
Wrap upright junipers and arborvitae loosely with twine to prevent snow/ice from splitting branches.
Cooler temperatures and diminishing daylight will put houseplants into a resting period. Regular fertilization can be greatly reduced or stopped altogether at this time. Be careful not to overwater. If any of your houseplants were kept outside this summer monitor them carefully for pests.
Clean out those gutters and drain and store garden hoses.
ē Lawns:
Although fall is an excellent time for controlling perennial broadleaf weeds including even the most difficult ones such as ground ivy and wild violets but itís important to apply before it gets too cold. The average daily temps should be in the 50ís for a few days so weeds are actively growing for proper uptake and activity. Applying later increases the risk of leaching of water soluble products and decreases level of effectiveness.
Raking, blowing or picking up fallen tree leaves with a mower bag is labor intensive and the bagged leaves still have to be disposed of. As long as they arenít excessive, leaves can be mulched by mowing and left on the lawn without negative consequences to turf quality. In addition to providing an alternative method of leaf litter disposal, research suggests there may be other benefits to mulching leaves back into the lawn. Researchers at Michigan State looked at the effect of mulched oak and maple leaves on spring green-up and dandelion populations.
Results suggest that mulching leaves into established turfgrass increased spring green-up the following year, and contributed to reduced dandelion populations. While the mechanism of control was not investigated in this study, it may simply be that decomposing pieces of leaves cover up bare spots between turf plants that are an excellent opening for weed seeds to germinate.
Whether raking or mulching, wet leaves are harder to deal with. Youíll be able to handle more leaves at a time if they are dry. Mowing Height: Raise the deck to the highest setting. This will allow the mower to accommodate more leaves at a time. Source: Cornell Turfgrass Clips and Cuts
ē Firewood:
Firewood should be dried as much as possible before burning in order to get the most BTUís. For best results, season or air-dry firewood for at least six to eight months after cutting. The best time to cut firewood is during the winter or early spring before the sap runs. If the tree is felled when fully leafed out, let it lie until leaves have become crisp to allow leaves to draw out as much moisture as possible from the tree before further cutting.
Drying time is greatly reduced if wood is cut into firewood length and split, especially pieces larger than 8 inches in diameter and firewood should be properly stacked for satisfactory drying. Stack wood loosely and keep it off moist ground under partial or full protection from the elements, and no closer than 25 feet from the house. Avoid storing large quantities in the house, warm garage or basement because warm temperatures can activate insects and hatch insect eggs that are in or on the firewood.
ó Laurie VanNostrand and the Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Wayne County Master Gardeners