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John Fulton


John Fulton
Former County Extension Director



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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Fall Things

Posted by John Fulton -

With frost a common occurrence this past weekend, our reminder of the impending winter season has been served. There are several things to consider for the season, and use the nice warm days to catch up. Indian Summer is now officially here after the frost.

Leaves have begun to drop. There has been much debate about the leaf colors this year, due to the type of weather we had this summer. While the red colors may not have developed as well, fall still provides a dazzling pallet of colors. Of course, the maples provide much of the flashy color. This year it does seem the maples such as the sugars and reds have more of a golden color, that doesn't mean it isn't a sight to behold. The oaks and hickories provide a great backdrop of browns to highlight the yellow to orange colors.

Leaves always provide some interesting family discussions. Usually the discussions revolve around raking, not raking, mowing, composting, etc. Does it hurt to mow leaves rather than rake? In most cases, it doesn't hurt a bit. It is like mowing the grass. If you do it often enough, it's fine. If you wait too long, you get to rake or catch. The rule of thumb is if you bridge the mowed material up on the grass, you need to remove it. Another option is to rake and compost. While temperatures and material to mix in compost don't work as well in the fall, the resulting material is a great mulch for next year in the garden, flower beds, and around shrubs and trees. Leaves will smother grass if they are allowed to pile up.

Many of the tomato plants were blackened over the weekend. You might still be able to salvage fruits by picking them. A few may be placed on the kitchen counter to ripen. One option to ripen them faster is to place a few in a paper sack with a banana, or banana peels. Bananas give off ethylene, which is the same product used to ripen tomatoes sold in many stores.

Any remaining pumpkins or gourds should be cut from the vine before the vine rots back into the fruit. Leave at least a two inch stub of the vine if possible. Once any type of vine or stem rots into the fruit, the fruit decomposes quickly. This rule of thumb also applies to tender bulbs.

Keep mowing that grass. With improved moisture conditions, many lawns are in the best shape they have been in since April. The frost will start to slow things down, but continue to remove no more than a third of the leaf blade at any mowing. Of course, this will also help the leaf situation by chopping some up. The other thing to consider is the neighbors leaves will blow off of their newly mowed yard, and they will catch on your longer grass if it is not mowed.

With another three quarter of an inch of rain last week, we have added some moisture for perennials. It is important to keep moisture available for perennials as we head into the fall, particularly for evergreens. Adequate moisture, and mulch, will help the evergreens through the late fall and winter months. Use of an anti-transpirant such as Wilt Pruf will also help evergreens during the winter months. Applications are usually made just before freezing temperatures become the norm.


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