42 October 28, 2006

As we creep toward November, there are things to finish up in the garden. Let me give you a list of things that you should be doing to get your yard ready for winter.

If you had a vegetable garden, you should pull up and dispose of any diseased plants. Any diseased plant material left in the garden is sure to be a source of infection for 2007. If the plants just succumbed to the frost, then they can be placed in your compost pile. Vegetable gardens should have winter rye planted after the plants are removed. The winter rye will form a green mat of grass like growth. The roots will hold the soil in place. Without the winter rye, winter winds can dry the soil and allow the soil to blow away. In the spring, the winter rye is tilled into the soil. This will greatly increase the amount of organic matter in the soil. Think of it as free compost and fertilizer.
If you have not applied lime to your garden in the past year, be sure to put some on the garden before you apply the winter rye seed.

Perennial beds can be cut back and diseased plant parts should be thrown out. Otherwise, the plant parts can be composted.  Perennials need to have lime applied to the perennial bed. This can be done this fall. Perennials need phosphorous for strong root development and for flower production. If you apply superphosphate this fall, the plants will use the phosphorous next spring to grow beautiful flowering perennials.

Your lawn needs attention in the fall too. The grass needs to be cut short before the snow flies. If you allow the blades of grass to remain long, then the grass mats down and fungus diseases will develop over the winter. You also want to get those leaves off the lawn. Leaves left on the lawn will kill off grass.  If you have not applied lime to your lawn during the past year, then you should apply lime this fall.  As the weather cools, the top growth slows down on your lawn. The roots of the grass will continue to grow until the ground freezes. If you apply a fall type of fertilizer, the roots of your lawn will grow stronger. Come the spring, an application of lawn fertilizer will make those roots put up many new blades of grass, giving you a thicker lawn.

Your broadleaf evergreens need to be watered each week during the fall. If Mother Nature provides the water, so much the better. Otherwise, you need to be watering these plants. Broadleaf evergreens take up water in the fall and store it in the leaves and twigs. During the winter, dry winds pull moisture out of the leaves.  It is the stored moisture that allows the leaves to survive the winter. You can also help the broadleaf evergreens to survive by wrapping them in burlap. The burlap slows down the wind and cuts down on the winds ability to pull moisture out of the leaves. You can also spray the leaves with an anti desiccant spray. This is a spray on wax that coats the leaves. This spray can cut down on moisture loss by 30 to 50%. You can use the spray in place of wrapping the plants in burlap.

Well, those are some of the things you should be doing this fall. I’ll give you a few more chores to do in the coming weeks.

I’ll talk to you again next week.

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