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Over the Garden Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Out in the Yard in Late November

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

By now most outdoor gardening activities are completed or nearly so. The weather has been pretty good if we pick the right day to finish up. There may be the need to mow again, not so much for the lawn itself, but to mulch up or collect the leaves that have ended up back in your yard from the neighborhood after the last windy weather we had. Some trees dropped their leaves early while others have just recently fallen. A few leaves are ok and even desirable as winter cover for our tender perennials and perennials in general. Leaves will protect the crown and moderate strong changes in above ground temperatures that might otherwise harm perennials. Sometimes you can use the mower to mulch and blow them into your beds if there is a minimal grass clippings involved. If there is a lot of grass involved then the mixture of grass and mulched leaves can be added to the compost pile. During the last mowing of the yard, be sure to put some gas stabilizer in the gasoline so it gets all the way through the carburetor and gas lines.

If that bag or box of spring flowering bulbs is still sitting in the garage, the ground is not frozen and planting those bulbs will be easy. Follow the directions for proper planting depth and put some bone meal in the bottom of the hole as part of the planting process. If you have not put the garden hose away, those bulbs should be watered in too.

While you are watering in the bulbs, give your evergreens, broadleaved evergreens, trees and shrubs one last watering as well. It is important for all our plants, yet really important for the evergreens so we do not have browned needles and leaves next spring. Once you're done with any final watering, be sure to remove the hose from the house and drain any remaining water from the hose before you store it for the winter. If you do not have frost free spigots, be sure to use one of those Styrofoam insulating cups over the spigot.

In previous columns I have talked about protecting young fruit tree trunks from direct sun and rabbit damage. The same tactics apply for young ornamental trees and shrubs. Once cold weather and snow get here, they become the next meal once snow covers the lawns and weeds. There are variety products available at retail outlets. As long as the weather holds or we have a few hours in any day, consider doing the dormant pruning of shrubs that would otherwise get done in the spring.

Another end of the season project is cleaning and protecting your gardening tools. Leaving dirt on tools will lead to a rusty spot underneath next spring. A rusty tool is harder to work with than one that is free of rust. You can use a wire brush or coarse rag to remove the remaining soil and then use a light oil to cover and protect the garden tools. Clean your pruners and saws too to remove sap residue.

Lastly, if you have not dug out the snow blower yet, it is time. Drain the old fuel and add fresh before you ever try and start the blower, especially if it is an oil/gas mixture. Consider a new spark plug if it has been a few years.

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