Fall Garden Chores

Mulched leaves make excellent lawn & garden food!

Mulched leaves make excellent lawn & garden food!

Good day gardeners,

Wouldn't we all like to ease into winter mode? The harvest is in, the flower garden has succumbed to frost, patio furniture has been tucked away. Time for a rest, right? Maybe not quite yet.

Early November is a great time for a last application of fertilizer for your lawn. Grass plants use some of the nutrients now and then store the remainder over winter. This allows your lawn to green up early in the spring. I apply Blue Seal Safe 'N Simple Lawn Food now, because it is all natural, covers 5000 square feet, and is reasonably priced. There are other excellent organic choices, but they cover less and are more expensive. Also, there are conventional options that offer average to large coverage.

Hopefully, most of the leaves are off your trees by now. For lawns that are newly established, leaves should be totally removed. When leaves pack down under snow, the new grass suffocates and struggles to survive. I mow my lawn regularly this time of year (we have so many trees) just to grind up the leaves. Our vegetable gardens are the recipients of this awesome organic matter. I am a no-till gardener, and the earthworms are more than appreciative of my effort.

Before putting away tomato cages and other plant props, I spray them with a bleach solution to kill off any pathogens. Anything I can do now to make spring easier is my goal- not always accomplished- haha.

Pull hairy bittercress now for easier weeding next Spring!

Pull hairy bittercress now for easier weeding next Spring!

I'm still cleaning up the gardens - both vegetable and perennial borders. I do all the weeding that I possible can, because I don't have the time in the spring. There are winter weeds that hide and thrive around and in established perennials. You can identify these culprits, because they are green and growing despite freezing temperatures. Some, such as hairy bittercress, do a great job of seeding themselves now and then grow on! I can't stress enough that by "going at" weeding now will reap you many rewards in the spring. I cut back some perennials and leave others for the birds and for winter interest. I'm still tucking in tulip bulbs, making sure to use Bulb-tone fertilizer and lots of Repels-All broad spectrum repellent. Voles love to eat tulip bulbs! I will scatter this same repellent over my entire bed just before snow falls. It seems to do the trick.

Lastly,  tender perennials such as glads, dahlias, and tuberous begonias should be dug by now. I like to let the first couple of frosts take mine, as it signals to the plant that it's time for its winter rest. Once out of the ground, I dry them leaves and all. When leaves are on the crispy, brown side and roots are dry, I brush them off thoroughly (never wet them). It's best to dust them with a natural insecticide/fungicide combination to assure pathogens don't get the upper hand. I then pack them in vermiculite not allowing them to touch one another. Then into a very cool, dark spot. Don't let them freeze.

Ok, now start to think about that rest - until something else you forgot...

That's it for now,

Judy Ratta-Harrington