Horticulture hints for the fall,patios heaved with the thaw,gardener kneeling pad - For Begninners

While snow covers the ground is the time to start seeds for this year’s garden.  Under grow lights you can start onions, leeks, broccoli, and cauliflower now. Wait until the end of March (or roughly 6-8 weeks before the last frost) to start tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and herbs such as parsley, sage, oregano—but not basil until the end of April.
A New England tradition for more than 100 years and a great shopping opportunity for garden-related products and services.
Clean-up and bury or compost all dropped apples and other fruits to limit the spread of disease.  Wrap fruit tree trunks with plastic tree guards to protect against damage by rabbits, rodents and others who would damage the trees’ bark. Despite all the rain we received as part of the storm, don’t forget to keep watering trees, shrubs and newly planted perennials.
And, if you have ever considered garlic in the garden, now is the time to plant it.  The bulbs will sprout roots now and take off as soon as the soil warms next spring. Continue watering trees and shrubs, particularly the newly planted, until the ground freezes to prepare them for the drought we call winter.
Leaves in beds can stay put for the winter — after you’ve cleaned out the dead perennials and any weeds trying to winter over.
Don’t be afraid to continue mowing leaves into the lawn no matter how deep those leaves are; they will compost into the soil over the winter.
That blizzard was winter moths — an unwanted invader of our land — who between mid-March and late April will hatch from eggs laid in the bark and crawl into the leaf buds of many of our trees.
There are now two postings, Fertilizing House Plants, by Joan O’Brien and Seed Starting Basics by Sheila Steele. If the perennials and annuals in your garden were not affected by disease, consider leaving seed heads of black eyed susans, cone flower and similar plants standing. Last call for digging up tender summer bulbs such as dahlias, begonias and tropicals like caladium and cannas.
The snow has made a dramatic first appearance in New England, which should be a wake-up call to finish winterizing the garden. Ragged breaks and tears are an opportunity for insects and disease to harm an otherwise healthy tree. Sod can be removed and fresh manure or leaf mold added to increase organic material, water retention and friability of the soil. The garden may look bare to you, but deer and rodents still think of your yard as a source of dinner. If you have the time, rake them out onto the lawn, chip them with your mower or chipper and return them to the beds. Oak leaves are more acidic than pine needles so a week or two after you fertilize, put down lime over your lawn if many of the leaves are from oaks.
After the leaves have dropped is a good time to relocate old shrubs to new homes, (or to add new shrubs). Always leave the ashes in the fireplace or outside on the ground, not the deck or porch, in a metal bucket until they are cold.
Be especially vigilant because the cool wet summer led to more disease problems than usual.
Removing all plants, vines and fallen fruit before adding any mulch or planting a cover crop on your garden is always good gardening.
The best and easiest way to get them off your lawn, and make them work for you, is to mow them into the lawn with a mulching mower.

The cuttings can be used to make holiday arrangements for the house, fill window boxes or outdoor containers. Paperwhites need no chilling period, make great Christmas gifts and brighten everyone’s home during the winter months. As snow cover gives way look for hellebore blooms to put in an appearance along with the early bulbs such as snowdrops, Siberian squills and crocus.
Once there, safe from any pesticides we may spray on them, they will chew away at the new leaves.
Don’t forget to keep the humidity up with misting or pebble trays—our homes remain very dry as long as the heating systems are on. Once the ground freezes, your trees and shrubs will have no access to water until the spring thaw.
There are many warm days ahead so keep mowing the grass until it stops growing — usually around Thanksgiving. Think in terms of sweeps of color: forgo rows of single bulbs in favor of more attractive mass plantings. They’ll eat the leaves of evergreens, growing tips of branches and the buds of next spring’s flowers. If you have not fertilized, a light application of fertilizer that is not high in nitrogen (the first number on the front of a fertilizer bag ) but also contains phosphorus and potassium (the second and third numbers) is appropriate now. Evergreens in particular need to have as much water available as possible since they will continue to lose moisture through their leaves throughout the winter. Enjoy fresh produce along with fruits and vegetables you have stored, frozen, canned or dried at your Thanksgiving dinner while you give thanks for a fruitful year.
A thorough clean-up and disposal of infected plant material reduce the chances that the same problem will be back to bedevil you next year.
If you bag mown leaves, use them to cover flower beds, to mulch around the base of trees and shrubs and finally to create leaf mold or compost for future garden use.
Starting them too early often leads to leggy or weak seedlings from having spent too long waiting indoors for warm weather to arrive. They seem to particularly favor oak, maples and fruit trees but will eat almost anything they encounter including roses and perennials. If your test shows that the soil in your lawn or flower beds is getting too acidic, a common problem in New England, November is an ideal time to put down the recommended application of lime. Cleanup can be finished in the spring, and you get to enjoy the birds throughout the winter.
If you grow cactus, stop all water during through this period because they plants are naturally adapted to a winter drought. Remove all diseased vegetation from garden beds, as well as any that may be infected with insect pests, such as irises borer eggs in the leaves. Layering greens (the fresh cut materials, kitchen debris) with the brown (dead plants and leaves) will speed the creation of compost, even over the winter. Lay a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard over the area you want to plant next spring, top it with soil and mulch.
Paperwhites intended for the holidays should be planted in pots (indoors, of course) in mid-November. Many pests lay their eggs in the leaves (such as iris borers) and stalks (like corn borers) of their hosts.

Don’t forget to start bulbs for forcing, they are always welcome gifts in the dark days of winter. And remember, bulbs should be planted three times as deep as the biggest dimension of the bulb—and that’s from the top of the bulb.
After the leaf buds open, the mature caterpillars will spin threads and be spread further by the wind.
A careful cleanup, from washing leaves with warm water to removing imperfect leaves and errant dirt and debris, is the path to a shiny ribbon. By spring it will have worked its way into the soil giving your plants a head start on the 2015 growing season. They will be happier if you place a little grit (available from farm stores) or small stones (from Home Depot-type stores) under and around them. If your lawn or garden is acidic, you can add lime anytime throughout the fall and winter and have the problem corrected before spring. The grass, weeds or other unwanted material below will die and the area will be plantable in the spring. Other house plants need less water to go along with the reduced sunlight and cooler temperatures they are experiencing.
This is particularly important for anything planted this year and vital for those planted this fall.
If you grew potatoes this year, even one tiny spud left in the ground can harbor the virus and it will attack both potatoes and tomatoes next year! The hard material serves two purposes—deterring animals that go after the bulbs and aiding drainage, since few bulbs will tolerate wet sites. They can planted in new areas, shared with friends or donated to local garden clubs for their spring plant sales.
If you must rake leaves, rather them mow into the lawn, add them to the compost pile or make a large pile of leaves.
If you lack organic matter, the finished compost from your compost bin is an excellent addition.
Check the schedule on this website and plan to enter your pride and joy—it may go home decorated with a colorful ribbon!
Contact a state-certified arborist to spray your trees particularly if they have been weakened by infestations in the past years. As you work, use one container for “clean” debris and a second one for diseased or infected material, so you can easily discard the one and compost the other. Mist or add humidity with pebble trays for plants uncomfortable with dry air that comes with central heating. Spread over gardens after the ground has frozen; it also helps to protect against heaving during winter thaws. Replant it at as close to the same depth it was growing at before as possible, add mulch (careful not to touch the truck of the plant) and water well until the ground freezes solidly.

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