This is the time of year to finish garden clean up before we are blanketed with a permanent snowfall! If you have not already done so consider composting leaves to keep this valuable organic matter out of our landfills. Contact the garden hotline or e-mail us for advice. Don’t forget to “bunny proof” your prized shrubs using wire tree guards. Remember, to spread the last fertilizer application on your lawn following a last cutting. If you only feed your lawn once a year, this is a most critical fertilizing time as it equips the lawn to withstand the winter as well as promoting a sturdier green spring lawn.
Recently transplanted perennials and shrubs need a layer of mulch around them — make sure you leave a two-inch band free of mulch around the stem or trunk. It’s not a bad idea to use evergreen boughs from your holiday tree to cover newly planted perennial plants. Using leaves as a cover creates potential for smothering the plants especially when using oak and maple leaves — mulched leaves are a better option.
As our snowfall begins to increase, the use of “roof snow rakes” increases and cascading snow from use of these can cause damage to plant material in foundation plantings. I would suggest using an “A” frame structure to deflect the snow. These can be purchased from hardware and garden stores or you can construct one. Contact the garden hotline for a fact sheet.
This is also a great time of year to make a garden journal, listing what worked and didn’t work for you this year. What flower and vegetable varieties performed well during our past summer and in terms of vegetables and fruit crops, what were the yields? List the insect and disease pests you encountered, when they first appeared, and how you combated them. I add weather facts to my journal with highs and lows and precipitation amounts, first frosts etc. It is fun to read and useful in garden planning.
In connection with garden journals, if you are contemplating a change to your landscape for next year-this is an excellent time to analyze the site taking notes on soil types-sand, clay or loam. If the site has standing water for long periods in spring and fall remedial remedies may be in order for drainage or consider planting berms. Observe wind directions with special focus on the prevailing winter winds as this information is critical to the success of plantings. Sun and shade are also factors in site analysis as well as the space you have available for ideal plant growth. It is also a great idea to have a plan of what lies below the soil like cable wires, utilities and septic leach beds. If you have a newer home, these are often found on the plot development-blueprint of your home. The utility companies can mark these out for you before you plant and you can then make your own plan.
Of prime importance, is plant selection which local nurseryman and Cooperative Extension can offer valuable assistance. A prime objective is to select pest resistance/tolerant species for ease of maintenance as well as plants, which, size wise, fit within your space requirements.
— Dave Reville, Wayne County Master Gardener