31 October 8, 2008

The sad reality is that we have to begin to think about the arrival of winter. There are a few garden chores that need to be done in the next few weeks to get our gardens ready for winter.


If you have any young fruit trees in your yard, or if you have any tree that is an ornamental fruit tree such as flowering cherry or flowering crabapple, you need to protect the bark on the trunk of the trees. Exposure to the sun will cause the bark on the trunk to warm up during the winter. As the sun sets, the rapid drop in temperature can cause the bark to pop open. This open wound will prevent the tree from taking up food and water in the spring. The open wound also allows insects an entrance under the bark where the insects can do additional damage. The bark on these trees also has high sugar content. This makes the bark an excellent food source for rodents. Mice and rabbits will feed on the bark during the winter. The loss of the bark can lead to the death of the tree.

To solve both of these problems, you should apply tree wrap around the trunk of the tree. The tree wrap acts as a strip of insulation to keep the temperature of the bark relatively steady. It will prevent the rapid changes in the bark temperature that causes the bark to pop as the sun sets. The tree wrap will also keep the rodents from chewing on the bark during the winter.


There were many problems with fungus diseases this summer. The leaves of the infected plants need to be cleaned up and either composted or disposed of with your fall leaf clean up. If you do not remove the leaves, they will act as a source of re-infection next year. This is a very important chore in your vegetable garden. You should remove all of the old plants, leaves and dead vegetables from the garden. If you leave them on the ground, the spores of the fungus disease will remain on the soil. If you turn the infected plants into the soil, it will also act as a source of infection for next year.


Many of our plants are prone to wind damage from our dry winter winds. Any of your broadleaf evergreens, rose bushes and any newly transplanted tress and shrubs need winter protection. You can wrap the plants in burlap to help slow the wind damage. You can also spray the plants with an anti-dessicant spray. This spray is applied to the leaves and branches of your shrubs and trees. It forms a waxy coating on the leaves and helps to prevent moisture loss by 30 to 50%. I will give your more information on this in the weeks to come.


Fall is also the time to get your lawn ready for the winter. If you have not applied lime this year, make sure you apply lime at the rate of one bag for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. Winter types of fertilizer help to strengthen the roots of the lawn. This fertilizer can be applied now. Leaves also need to be removed from your lawn. Layers of dead leaves can kill off your grass and the leaves can also help to acidify the soil.


Well, that’s all for this week. More fall chores for you to do next week.

I’ll talk to you again next week.

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