October 14, 2009
Since we have had to pull out the winter coats, there is no denying that fall is creeping towards winter. Now is the time to get your yard ready for winter.
If you have planted any fruit trees this past season, they will need to be protected from the winter. The bark of fruit trees and any of the related flowering ornamental trees are prone to damage from fluctuation in temperatures. In the winter months, the sun warms up the bark of these trees. As the sun sets, there is a rapid drop in the air temperature. This sudden change in temperature can cause the bark to crack. To prevent this problem, you should be wrapping the trunk with tree wrap. The tree wrap is a thick paper that is wrapped around the trunk of the tree. This cover will slow down the drop in temperature of the tree bark. This will prevent the splitting of the bark. The tree wrap will also act as a barrier that will keep rabbits and mice from chewing on the bark of the tree.
As I write this column, the temperature is around 31 degrees. In all likelihood, this means we all have had a frost in our yards. Frost will kill off all of the annual flowers and all of the warm weather vegetable plants. Frost will kill the foliage on many perennials. This means that it is time to pull out the dead annuals and vegetable plants. If the plants were infected with fungus diseases, you do not want to put them into the compost pile. In many cases, the compost pile will not heat up enough to kill off the remaining spores of the fungus diseases. Dead foliage from your annuals, vegetable plants and perennials that have no fungus problems can be placed into your compost pile. If you don’t have a compost pile, you can start one now. It is a good way to recycle dead plants into fantastic organic matter. It is also a good way to dispose of all of the leaves that will be falling off your trees. If you don’t have room for a compost pile in your yard, you can always set up a compost bin. Most of the compost bins, particularly the spinning types can turn garden waste into compost in as little as 60 days.
Once the vegetable garden is pulled up, you should be applying a cover crop of winter rye. The rye seed will sprout even in the cold weather. The root system of the winter rye will hold the soil in place, preventing the winter wind from stripping the topsoil off the garden. The winter rye will also produce many blades of rye that can be turned into the garden in the spring. This foliage will decompose and add lots of organic matter to your soil.
Lawns need to be fertilized in the fall. The so-called fall or winter fertilizers stimulate root growth that will in turn produce lots of new blades of grass in the spring. Fall is also an excellent time of the year to apply lime to your lawn. Lime neutralizes the acidity in the soil. New England soils are becoming more acidic each year. If you do not apply lime to your lawn, the acid soil will prevent your lawn from growing properly. On the other hand, weeds grow very well in an acid soil. By applying lime now, you will be giving the lime time to change the Ph of the soil. By spring, the acidity will be neutralized and your grass will be growing at its full potential.
Fall is a time when your plants take up water and store it in the twigs and branches. This stored water will eventually be pulled out of the plant by the dry winter winds. This stored water will prevent the wind from killing the plant. If Mother Nature does not provide rain each week, you must be watering your trees and shrubs each week until the ground freezes. If the plants don’t get a chance to take up that needed water, you will wind up with damaged or dead plants in the spring.
Well, that’s all for this week. Next week, I’ll be telling you more things you need to be doing in your yard to prepare it for winter.
I’ll talk to you again next week.