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Fall Home & Garden: Autumn garden care to-do list

Fri, Sep 26th, 2003
Posted in Features

By Nancy Huisenga, Fillmore County Master GardenerNow that the 2003 gardening year is drawing to a close, its time to go through a To-Do List of Garden Care Tips to ensure the best chance for successful wintering of trees, shrubs, lawns and perennials. Here we go!In generalDont stop weeding! Weeds not only compete with your plants for nutrients and water, they harbor disease-carrying insects that will crop up next year. Keep watering! This allows perennials, trees and shrubs to go through the slow, long process of shutting down for dormancy in winter. Keep the upper 6-8 inches of the soil around trees and shrubs moist, watering newly-planted trees and shrubs every 2-3 days, preferably with a soaker hose for several hours at a time. Water a five-inch diameter tree 5-7 feet out from the trunk, where the feeder roots are. Lawn care1. Rake up your leaves and decrease your mowing height gradually to help prevent the moisture accumulation that contributes to snow mold, seen on the grass in the spring. 2. Fertilize once more in late October when grass has gone dormant and no longer requires mowing. Care of trees and shrubs1. Prune oaks now. 2. Plant and mulch young evergreens, as well as new deciduous trees and shrubs during September and even after they have lost their leaves and gone dormant. Taking advantage of fall sales is wonderful, but be sure to select healthy specimens. After watering the new trees, remove grass and add 2-4 inches of mulch, keeping it 2 inches away from the trunk.3. Fruit treesa. Do NOT prune fruit trees this is a spring-time activity, done just as the buds start swelling. If you prune now, the plant will be susceptible to dieback and freezing injury. b. Protect the tree bark with deer/rabbit/mouse guards. Wrap trunks with hardware cloth that has a 1/4 inch opening up to the expected snow line. Flowers1. Bring houseplants indoors during cool nights. Separate them from other indoor plants until youre sure they are insect-free.2. Pull out and compost healthy annuals such as impatiens, zinnias and petunias after the killing frost. Look for infected plants and destroy that foliage.3. Cut back perennials as they yellow chrysanthemums and asters can be cut back to a few inches tall. Peonies can be cut to the ground. 4. Mulch perennials to provide that insulating layer to protect roots from the damage of freezing and thawing and help retain moisture. Use hay, straw and compost. Grass clippings and raked-up leaves work but are less effective, since they dont provide air space needed for insulation. 5. Divide perennials such as Asiatic Lily, Bearded Iris, Daylily, Jacobs Ladder, Tall Phlox, and Siberian Iris.Bulbs1. Prepare the soil and plant new bulbs for the spring. 2. Do not add bonemeal to the soil. The scent of bonemeal may attract squirrels, moles, dogs and other animals that will dig in the area, trying to unearth non-existent bones. Instead, work bulb fertilizer into the soil surface next spring , after flowers fade but before foliage yellows. 3. After the killing frost blackens the tops of tender bulbs and corms such as cannas, gladiolas, caladiums, dahlias and tuberous begonias, dig them up and put them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location to dry for 2-3 weeks and prevent them from rotting.

Clean up time1. Evaluate signs of disease on vegetable plants, consider different cultivars for next year if you spot problems.2. Wearing heavy gloves, remove diseased plant material to prevent disease problems in the spring. Dispose of the leaves and garden crop residues by pulling up the plant materials, including the roots, once the crops have been harvested, and dispose of them properly, by bagging or burning, as permitted by local ordinances. Do not compost diseased plants. 3. To prevent disease organisms from surviving the winter in your garden plant debris and leaves must be eliminated. Then till the soil and turn it to 6-8 inch depth. This will allow for other microorganisms to digest any infested plant debris that gets tilled under. Roses1. Stop fertilizing and deadheading.2. Protect from winter winds.3. If you dont use cones, mound the base of the plant with extra soil and mulch. Rose tipping to prevent winter injury to tea rose canes, tipping is recommended. An excellent article on the subject, written by Dave Slesak, can be seen and printed on-line at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/projects/yardandgarden/YGLNews/YGLN-Sept1502.html#roses Have a great winter, hopefully one with lots of snow!For a list of Master Gardeners in Fillmore County, contact your Fillmore County Extension Service in Preston at (507) 765-3896 or e-mail at: fillmore@ extension. umn.edu.

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