Friday, November 7, 2014

Timely Gardening Tips for Autumn by Master Gardener Bonnie Olliver

Honeybees enjoy Chrysanthemum 'Autumn Moon' in the Bucks County Master Gardeners Pollinator Demo Garden
Photo © Kathleen Connally

  • Lawns may be fertilized with 10-6-4 or its equivalent through November at the rate of 10 lbs. per 1000 square feet.  Soil test to determine if lime is needed and apply according to recommendations.
  • Keep lawns free of leaves to prevent them from matting and killing the grass.
  • Dig up tender bulbs such as gladiolas, dahlias, cannas and tuberous begonias, carefully clean off the soil and store them after they dry.
  • Spring blooming bulbs can be planted when the soil cools, anytime before the ground freezes. Try “forcing” daffodils, tulips or crocus to enjoy early spring blooms indoors. 
  • Bring houseplants back inside but rinse the leaves and check for insects first. The pots (with plants in them) can be soaked in water for 15-20 minutes to remove most pests, especially those hiding in the soil! 
  • Remove soil from garden tools and apply a thin coat of oil for winter protection. Drain hoses, and clean and winterize the lawn mower. 
  • Remove and discard all rose leaves and debris from around rose bushes. Protect crowns of hybrid teas roses by mounding them with 6-8” of soil; mulch after the ground freezes. Rose canes may be lightly cut back in fall but do major pruning next spring.
  • Remove debris from under fruit trees and shrubs to help reduce future disease and insect problems. 
  • Clean out vegetable and flower gardens and add the material to the compost pile. Cut back the stems of perennials if they have no winter interest or seed for the birds, but leave any green foliage that might be at ground level.  Consider leaving the stems of some herbaceous perennials for overwintering pupae or egg casings of beneficial insects. 
  • Continue watering recently planted trees and shrubs if rainfall isn’t at least 1” a week, giving them a thorough soaking, until the ground freezes. 
  • Pruning of dead, dying or diseased parts of trees and shrubs can be done anytime; selective pruning of shrubs is based on their blooming time. 
  • For de-icing on sidewalks and roadways near your garden, consider alternatives to salt such as Calcium chloride, urea or sand. Use in amounts recommended on the labels. 
  • Store liquid pesticides above 40 degrees. 
  • Keep firewood outside until ready to use to avoid “awakening” any insects that might be overwintering there.
    Tips provided by Bucks County Master Gardener Bonnie Olliver

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