Friday, April 2, 2021

Lonely Lorax

 

April 2021

 

PICKAWAY TO GARDEN

Lonely Lorax

By Paul J. Hang

 

It is safe to read Dr. Suess. My favorite is Fox in Sox. My second favorite is The Lorax; he speaks for the trees. In spite of recent evidence that trees communicate with other trees (chemically), they evidently aren’t very effective in communicating with many of us.  Enter the Lorax. Will we listen?

 

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Asian Long-horned Beetle (ALB), Thousand Canker Disease (TCD), Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA), Sugar Maple Decline (SMD), Beech Leaf   (BLD ), Oak Wilt Disease (OWD), not to mention Dutch Elm Disease(DED) and the Chestnut blight, these threats to our trees are really scary reading. You can google any of them to learn more about them. Enter the topic followed by the word extension, e.g. Oak Wilt extension, to get reliable science-based information from the state Cooperative Extension..

 

Just to mention one, Oak Wilt, has been detected in our area and it kills Oaks. Curling leaves could be a sign. It is carried on the feet of a beetle that is attracted to the sap oozing from a wound to an Oak tree. Shades of Dr. Suess! Because of this you should not prune Oaks from April through October. If pruning is required because of safety or storm damage the wounds should be treated with a wound dressing which is not recommended otherwise.

 

Why does any of this matter? Because, Trees Matter. Trees are valuable assets to a community and trees are assets that increase in value each year: large trees are exponentially more valuable than smaller trees. Trees are known to: reduce air pollution; create oxygen;  mitigate storm water runoff; save energy by shading and cooling in summer while reducing winter winds and keeping buildings warmer; muffle sounds; reduce crime and increase the sense of community; make citizens healthier; have beauty and create a sense of pride in a community; increase commerce in a business district. With all of these benefits it is no wonder the Lorax spoke up some 46 years ago.

 

April is Ohio Native Plant Month. For more information, go to ohionativeplantmonth.org. April brings Arbor Day, April 24th, when we are urged to plant a tree. April 22nd is Earth Day when we are urged to save the Earth.

 

Things to do in the garden:

 

Using a notebook wander your grounds and note things you need to do and ideas you want to implement. Divide perennials, move a shrub, start a new bed, renew the lawn, order mulch or topsoil, finish pruning fruit trees, raspberries, roses and grapes. There are lots of things to do.

Tomato and pepper seeds should be started indoors. The seedlings should be moved from the cells after 4 weeks into larger pots. Move them into the garden only after hardening them off and the danger of frost is past. As usual make sure you water-in the transplants. When you water, water deeply (top six inches wet) and water the base of the plant not the foliage. Water when the plants need it, not every day. Most plants require 1 to 1 and a half inches of water per week.

 

Vegetables that can be planted by seed into the garden are: beets, carrots, peas, onions, spinach, leaf lettuce, radishes. Cabbage and broccoli plants can be planted as soil conditions allow. In other words, don’t work our clay soils when they are wet.

 

Use row covers (Google it) on your vegetables right after planting to keep the bad bugs off. For vegetables that produce fruit (beans, cucumber, pepper, squash, tomatoes, etc.) remove the covers after blooming to let the pollinators go to work. For those that don’t need pollinating (Cabbage, broccoli, onions, chard, kale, lettuce, beets and radishes, etc.) you can leave the covers on until harvest. Make sure you buy the right covers that let in enough light and rain. I have found this to be an effective method to protect plants from bugs that damage vegetables.

 

Most annual flowers can be seeded directly into the soil after the danger of frost has abated. Some popular annuals that you should consider starting indoors are: snapdragon, wax begonia, sweet William, impatiens, sweet alyssum, petunia, gloriosa daisy, blue salvia, viola, pansy and zinnia, among others. This can save you a considerable amount of money that you can spend on a perennial.

Time spent on your lawn now will benefit it the rest of the year. Fertilize lightly if at all. The time to re-seed is when night time temps consistently reach 50 degrees and above. This is also the time to aerate lawns. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide when the first bloom appears on Bradford Callery pear in order to prevent crabgrass, unless you plan to seed. When common lilac or Ohio buckeye begins to bloom it is too late for a pre-emergent herbicide to be effective and too early for a post-emergent. Leave clippings on the lawn. Their nitrogen content is high and will reduce the need to fertilize. Mowing height of at least three inches will retard the growth of crab grass and other weeds.

Unless you are prepared to cover plants in case of frost, don’t put out those tender plants such as tomatoes and peppers until mid-May or later when the soil warms up. The average last frost date is now April 23rd. There is a 50/50 chance of frost then and the chance decreases about 10% per week after that. Spring flowering bulbs should be fertilized after they bloom. Remember to leave the leaves of bulbs until they yellow. Brown is better. Also prune spring blooming shrubs after they bloom.

If April brings its overhyped showers don’t work the soil if it is too wet.  Wait until it dries out a bit. If it seems wet enough to make a clay pot, wait. Squeeze a ball of earth about the size of a golf ball and let it drop from waist high, if it breaks apart it’s ready to be worked. Don’t apply mulch until May. Allow the soil to warm.

Cut back your ornamental grasses to six inches. Cut back your butterfly bushes (buddleia) to a foot or two and apply a balanced fertilizer. Now is the time to prune roses. Depending on the variety, you may prune back to a foot in height. Cut off those bagworms from shrubs and trees. Do it now before the worms hatch out (shortly after the Snow mound Spirea blooms). Dispose of the bags in the trash or bury them. One bag left equals a hundred plus new bags that won’t show themselves until this fall. Don’t postpone it.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Snowdrops

 

March 2021

PICKAWAY TO GARDEN

Snowdrops

By Paul Hang

 

Snowdrops have been revealed now that raindrops and warmer temperatures have arrived. They were waiting there under the snow. Every year they surprise me. Can we hope that there will be no more snow drops? We can hope. Maybe we can have that best of snow when everything turns white but the roads remain clear and dry. Just one more snow, that doesn’t need shoveling; one more to enjoy, appreciate and remember fondly for the rest of the year.

 

March is so unpredictable and unsettled. It is the adolescence of the year. A period we live through, thrilling at times, glad when it is over. A wag once said,  ”March is how we get from February to April.” March first is the beginning of meteorological spring. It’s like waiting for your 21st birthday. It takes forever and then, before you know it, it’s here. True, astronomical spring won’t arrive until March 20th.

 

Last March my column was about the pandemic and how planting a garden would be a good way to spend our time. The pandemic is still here and it is still a good time to plant a garden. It seems that a lot of people took my advice because seeds and gardening supplies sold out. It will probably be the same this year so get your orders in right away.

 

Buds are visibly swelling on some trees and shrubs; sap is beginning to run in the circulatory systems of trees and some politicians. Daylight savings time begins soon. Crocuses will bloom and daffodils. Tulips will continue to push up promising blooms in April or sooner. St. Patrick's Day promises that all of nature will soon be wearin o’ the green. For now, the only green to be seen will be the beer.

 

March is also the beginning of the season when the door to door tree “trimmers” will offer to “prune” your trees cheap. Topping trees is not good pruning. Information about pruning trees is at www.ohio-line.osu.edu. For information about caring for your trees go to www.arborday.org and www.treecaretips.org. For a list of certified arborists, go to www.isa-arbor.com. Your trees are a valuable asset to your property, to our community and to our environment. The City of Circleville has a Comprehensive Tree Plan. You can find it at ci.circleville.oh.us, in the search box type Tree Plan. There you will find lots of information on trees and regulations for public trees that belong to all of us.

Things to do in the garden:

 

If you feed the birds, don’t stop now. March and April are the toughest months for them. Food is scarce. New fruits, insects and seeds are a long way off and the old ones have been eaten. March is also time to clean out bird houses and ready for the nesting season.

 

Begin fertilizing houseplants with a weak solution. Now is a good time to propagate houseplants. March is not too late to try winter sowing. What is winter sowing? Google “winter sowing” for more information.  Have your soil tested. Materials and directions are normally available at the OSU Extension Office.

 

The last average frost date here in zone 6 is April 23rd. A number of seeds should be started this month. Check your seed packet for the number of days to harvest and count back to the date you want to plant your seeds or set out your plants. The last average frost date means there is a fifty-fifty chance of frost on that date. That’s the same odds as flipping a coin. A word to the wise, don’t set out your plants too early unless you are prepared to protect them should the odds work against you. The old rule of Memorial Day is the safest for tender plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

 

Start your seeds indoors for hardy plants (beets ((yes you can)), broccoli, Brussels' sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots). You can set them out later mid-month weather permitting. Wait till later in the month to start the half-hardy plants like tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, unless you are prepared to transplant to a larger container. Most flower seeds, annuals or perennials, can also be started. Always check the seed envelope for planting information. Once the soil can be worked (see below) plant lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, beets, carrots, chard, collards and radish seeds directly into the soil. Onion sets and potatoes can be planted directly into the soil.

 

Rake the lawn to remove the twigs, leaves, and other winter detritus. Dig out those biennial weeds before they get established. Now is a good time to plant trees and shrubs and bare root roses. The earlier you transplant perennials the better they will do. When is the soil ready to be worked? Soil that sticks to your spade is too wet to work and will be compacted. Make a ball of soil and drop it. If it crumbles it is ready to work. 

 

Before those buds break, spray fruit trees with dormant oil. Read the directions. Prune damaged, diseased, and dead limbs. Also, prune those limbs that grow inward, suckers and water sprouts. Do not remove more than a third of the tree. Prune deciduous trees and shrubs that bloom in the summer. Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs after they bloom. Prune raspberry canes and grapevines and fall flowering clematis.

 

If you cut back perennials and ornamental grasses (tying up the grasses before cutting them back to about six inches saves a lot of clean up), don’t throw them in the trash or onto the compost pile. Store them until we have a few warm days to give overwintering insects a chance to emerge. Pull back mulch from around perennials on warm days but be prepared to cover them back up if a hard freeze threatens.

 

Late March and April is the time to apply a pre-emergent to the lawn to prevent crabgrass. The best indicator for this is the first bloom of Callery Pear. But be forewarned, most pre-emergents prevent seeds from sprouting. Apply pre-emergent on a calm day. There are now selective pre-emergent that do not affect grass seed. If you plan to seed any parts of your lawn, don’t apply a non-selective to those areas. This warning also applies to areas where you plan to plant vegetables and flowers by directly seeding in the soil. A light fertilization of the lawn is all you’ll need.

Winter Creeper

 

February 2021

PICKAWAY TO GARDEN

Winter Creeper

By Paul Hang

 

Winter Creeper weather-wise is an oxymoron, true by definition. We all know winter creeps. As a plant, wintercreeper is “loser’s weepers.” It is creepy. If you like scary reading, Google it. Be careful though, it is also being sold as “Vibrant winter foliage. Spreading habit. Excellent groundcover. Wonderful in mass plantings.” Caveat emptor! Buyer beware! A well-known TV garden personality has, from time to time, even suggested it as a ground cover; I am here to convince you, NOT! Not even its variegated forms.

 

Wintercreeper, aka, Euonymus fortunei, is a non-native, highly invasive plant native to Asia, Japan and the Philippines in the family Celastraceae. This climbing euonymus is damaging, causing the death of urban trees and forests. It has opposite oval leaves and is evergreen. The leaves are about 1-2 inches long, glossy, slightly toothed with light-colored veins. As a ground cover the leaves are pointed and in winter may turn a purplish color.

 

Once the vine climbs a wall or tree it can reach 70feet long and its leaves become more rounded. As it climbs it reaches its adult stage and can flower with small white inconspicuous blooms. It produces orange seeds in a reddish capsule that are eaten by birds and mammals. This is its main method of dispersal. It is fast growing, tolerates shade and full sun. It would make David Letterman’s Top Ten List of Invasive Plants in the U.S.

 

It is a vigorous vine that invades forests. It grows across the ground, displacing native wildflowers and woody plant seedlings. It climbs trees high into the canopy by clinging to the bark and can overtop the tree depriving it of sunlight impeding photosynthesis leading to its death. The weight of it on trees can cause them to topple in a windstorm. It occurs in most states east of the Mississippi River.

 

It “escaped” cultivation and comes in several cultivars, ‘Coloratus’, ‘Emerald Gaiety’, ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’. It can be seen around town growing up doomed trees feeding birds that will inadvertently spread it around. Because it is evergreen it is noticeable in winter and cannot be confused with Virginia creeper or Poison Ivy. Another evergreen climbing vine that you may see on trees is English Ivy, Hegera helix. It has alternate leaves that can be variable in color but are typically green with white veins. They can be unlobed or have 3 to 5 lobes. It is the invasive cousin of Wintercreeper and should be treated the same.

 

Winter is the best time to kill them. On trees, cut the vine at the base and remove an inch or two. Paint the ends with a full strength non-selective herbicide. You will need to repeat this until the vine is dead. Once dead the vine can be removed as the roots will break away rather than cling to the tree. On the ground the best way to control them is to not plant them. Pulling them while young and the soil is moist is effective. Older plants can be treated like the vines on trees. Discard the plants, do not compost. Spraying with an herbicide with a surfactant (helps to penetrate the waxy coating) can be tried (read the label) but there is danger to surrounding plants if they are leafed out.

 

Things to do in the garden:

 

Not much. Check perennials for heaving up out of the ground. Press them down gently with your foot. Send in your seed orders. Will our results ever match those of the glossy color pictures? When you make out your seed and plant orders consider planting more native and heirloom plants and vegetables. Native plants are plants that evolved here and are adapted to our conditions, diseases and native pests. While you’re at it try googling the name of a flower you’re thinking about ordering.  You will be able to see pictures and planting information.

 

This is the time to prune trees and shrubs (after you sharpen your tools). You can see their structure now that they are dormant and the leaves are down. Cut out crossing and rubbing branches and unwanted suckers.  Pruning can be done to reduce the size of a tree or shrub to bring it in to balance or to remove overhanging branches blocking a view or path. Remember, spring flowering shrubs should be pruned after flowering if you want to enjoy the blooms. Insects are less likely to be attracted to cuts while trees are dormant.

 

On smaller trees you may want to take care of problems yourself. On larger trees you should call in an expert to inspect and perhaps correct any problems. Arborists are in a slow time of year. The ground, if frozen, will not be damaged and compacted as much from equipment and crews. The Arbor Day Foundation recommends that you have Certified Arborists check any safety problems you may have noticed. To find them go to www.isa-arbor.com click on “Verify Certification” and then “Find an Arborist.” The City of Circleville has a Comprehensive Tree Plan. You can find it at ci.circleville.oh.us, in the search box type Tree Plan. There you will find lots of information on caring for trees.

 

If you dug up bulbs for storage check on them. Spritz them with water to prevent drying out. Throw away any rotting or shriveled ones. Water any dormant or overwintering plants in your garage or basement.

 

Some seeds can be started indoors this month for setting out in late March or early April, depending on the weather: onions, cabbage, cauliflower, and other members of the Cole family. The University of Minnesota has a good discussion; go to www.extension.umn.edu/garden /flowers/starting-seeds-indoors. Also Google Winter Sowing. There you will read how to use old plastic milk bottles to easily germinate some seeds. It is a good way to raise a lot of seedlings for planting “drifts,” those bands of like plants that wander serpentine through our flower beds.

Phototropism

 

January 2021          

PICKAWAY TO GARDEN

Phototropism

By Paul J. Hang

 

After all the talk about how glad we were that the year 2020 was over and how 2021 would be better, well, as some sages have suggested, “it can always get worse”. The physical and political health of our country has taken a turn for the worse. A vaccine and new leadership will hopefully be a light at the end of these particular tunnels. As my concern mounts I can look towards the plant world for diversion and perhaps inspiration.

 

Phototropism is the tendency of an organism to turn towards or away from a source of light. It does not mean a politician’s attraction to or tendency to turn towards a camera for a photo-op, although I like that meaning. I have mentioned this tendency before of plants to react to light, or the lack of it. The mechanism is caused by hormones in the plant that cause cells to elongate. The hormone auxin migrates from the side of a plant receiving the most light to the opposite side of a plant’s stem. The auxin causes the cells on that side to elongate thus causing the plant to lean towards the light. Clever huh?

 

Another hormone, gibberellin, can cause the cells in a plants stem to elongate towards the light. When light from above is adequate the cells remain a normal size. If the light from above is inadequate the hormone causes the cells to elongate, thus making the plant taller and “reach for the light.”  This can cause “leggy” spindly plants that can topple over and die. People who garden or raise house plants are familiar with these phenomena.

 

As this year moves on we are receiving more light. As the sun has moved away from the tropic of Capricorn towards the Equator, we are getting more light. By the end of this month the sun will set a half-hour later. We will receive one more hour of light than at the beginning of the month. The plant world will re-act with growth, flowering, pollination and setting fruit. These actions are, in a sense, inevitable, guaranteed.

 

In our human world the “light” (enlightenment?) is not so inevitable or guaranteed. We like to think our actions are determined by us, by our own will. No hormone or its reaction to the amount of light or lack of it controls us, we like to believe. In this coming year I hope “just enough of us” will see the light, turn towards the light and make this a better year.

 

Things to do in the garden:

 

The list of things to do in the garden has gotten shorter. Things we can do about gardening can fill your idle hours, if you have any, are: Review last year's garden; draw a map while you can still remember what grew where.

 

Check your supply of old seeds. Are they expired? Do you want to reorder that variety? Read your new seed catalogs and begin to plan next year's garden. It's not nearly as much work. Order seeds and plants of new varieties that you want now. They usually sell out quickly.

 

Believe it or not, by the end of the month, you can begin to grow members of the Allium family (Onions, Leeks, Garlic and Shallots) from seed indoors. You can get ready by getting your seed starting supplies together. Make sure you provide plenty of light.

 

Cut back on watering your houseplants and don’t fertilize until March or April when growth begins as the amount of light lengthens. When your poinsettias are looking ragged throw them on the compost heap. The same goes for paper whites. In my opinion it is not worth trying to get them to bloom again for the next holidays. If you like a challenge, go ahead but be prepared for disappointment. Amaryllis and Christmas cactus are exceptions and can be kept for re-blooming. Check the internet for instructions.

 

Plan your gardens and plantings. One of my favorite guides for this is The Ohio Gardening Guide by Jerry Minnich. Need some more seed catalogs? Go to gardeningplaces.com.

 

Establish a new bed by placing black plastic or several layers of newspaper, cardboard or even old carpet down over the area you’ve chosen for the new bed. Weight it down so the wind doesn’t disturb it. By late spring the vegetation under it should be dead and the space ready for planting.

 

Learn to sharpen your tools, trowels, pruners, spades and if you are adventurous, your mower blades. Oil them and use linseed oil on the wooden handles. It's always a good idea to consult the experts. Go online and google it.

 

Getting rid of a cut live Christmas tree? Don’t. Use it to serve as a wind break for evergreens. Cut the branches off and use them as mulch for perennials. Put it near your bird feeders as cover. Decorate it with suet, fruit, seed cakes, as a bird feeder. Chip it for mulch. If you have a pond, sink it for structure cover for fish. The needles can also be mulch and will not make the soil too acidic. If you had a balled live Christmas tree, plant it ASAP.

 

Some gardening resolutions: Rotate my vegetable crops; water the base of plants, not from above; weed and mulch; use row covers; visit and check my garden often.

 

Dawning

 

December 2020

 

Pickaway to Garden

 

By Paul J. Hang

 

Dawning

 

Meteorological winter begins December 1st. We had our first serious snowfall on the 1st. Serious because it required cleaning off the car but not so serious I had to shovel the driveway. Astronomical winter begins December 21, when the winter solstice occurs. On that day the sun appears to be standing still on its daily journey to the southern horizn. It is the shortest day and the longest night. The old saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn” applies. The next day an astronomical dawn arrives as the day begins with a tiny bit more sunshine, or at least a tiny bit more light.

 

Why is an astronomical event of any consequence to a gardener? Other than psychological, how could an event in December mean anything to a gardener? First, I think gardeners share a trait with our ancestors who were much more connected and attuned to the land and what it provides. Dates, or more importantly events, mark passages, serve as reminders, signal to begin a task or to prepare for something.

 

Today it seems dates and events are all about commerce: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. If the date or event doesn’t name a commercial it certainly stands for one. Christmas for gifts, New Years for libations and party snacks, Presidents’ Day for sales, Valentine’s Day for roses and chocolates, you get the drift. These are artificially designated dates and, although they signify events, the date has no connection to the event.

 

December 21, some years December 22nd, is an artificial way for us to know when to expect the Winter Solstice, when the event will occur. It was, and is, a time for celebration. After losing the light the light returns, however so gradually and slowly. Light is essential for plant growth. Losing the light ended our garden season (at least for some). The return of light is cause for hope; hope that we will once more have a chance to garden again, even if not right away.

 

For our ancestors the winter solstice signaled that the earth, given enough light, would once again renew its miraculous ability to germinate seeds, sprout buried and dormant roots, tubers, corms and bulbs. We would have food, medicines and beauty once again. Although the Spring Equinox (usually March 21st) should be, agriculturally speaking, New Year’s Day, the Winter Solstice should be our day of annual celebration no matter what the date. It is the dawning of spring.

 

Our seasons are transient. One follows another. One ends another begins. In a sense the transience is eternal. Even though December 21 is the first day of winter and is seen as a loss of flowers, color and beauty, it is also the dawn of their restoration.

 

Looking for gift ideas for gardeners? Consider a spade, a “scuffle” hoe, a soil knife, other tools, gloves, boots, books. Happy shopping!

 

Things to do in the garden:

 

Thankfully, there are not too many things to do IN the garden as much as there are things to do ABOUT the garden. If you haven’t already done so, clean up crop debris. Get the vegetable garden ready for spring.

 

On nice days wander about your place and notice how some plants continue to develop. If the local temperature reaches 50 degrees they grow, only to cease when the temperature falls. Those bitter cress weeds are small now. I find them in between the bricks of my walk. They and ground ivy in the beds and in the lawn are trying to gain a foothold now while they have little competition. The biennial mullein with its fuzzy lamb's ear-like leaves is growing flat against the earth. Rosettes of poison hemlock and teasel continue to grow. Pull them up while you have the chance or spray with an herbicide according to the directions on the label. Get them before the weather turns warm and they turn tougher.

 

If the ground remains open it’s still not too late to plant lilies, tulips and daffodils. You may find some bargains. Avoid the soft and shriveled ones. Check houseplants for insects. Move clay pots inside to prevent breaking. Plant native seeds directly over snow or frozen ground. Go to www.backyardhabitat.info.

 

Wrap young tree trunks with hardware cloth or the plastic wrap made for that purpose. Protect them from ground level to about 18 inches.  This also goes for newly planted shrubs. Place fencing around them. This prevents mice, voles and rabbits from using the bark as lunch. If they girdle the plants, they will die. A little light pruning of trees and shrubs while they are dormant won’t hurt. Damaged, rubbing or simply inconvenient small branches can be removed. Never top trees in any season. When harvesting or buying firewood use only local sources less than 50 miles. This helps prevent the spread of bugs and diseases harmful to trees.

 

In the vegetable garden, write down and/or map where you planted what this year. This will aid in crop rotation. Bugs lay their eggs near the crops they “enjoy.” By not planting the same crops in the same place next year you will foil destructive insects and disease. Use ice melt, not rock salt, on your walks, it is harmful to plants including grass.

 

 

Bringing in the Sheaves

 

November 2020

 

Pickaway to Garden

Bringing in the Sheaves

By Paul J. Hang

The hymn of the same name symbolically means harvesting or bringing in the souls who were sown earlier. Literally it is bringing in bundles of stalks of cereal grains. Anyone who has been to Amish country in the early summer has seen the sheaves of grain stacked in the fields. In the fall you will see their shocks of corn, shock being a derivative of sheave.

 

November is the time of reaping for gardeners. Not just the last of the harvest but of stuff. Better bring in all those fragile pots, garden ornaments, stakes, cages and other gardening paraphernalia. Patio furniture, umbrellas and outdoor carpets all should be brought in. Is there anything sadder than seeing a Fisher Price menagerie of kids’ toys covered in the snow? Tools, houseplants, dried flowers, leaves for pressing, herbs for drying  or steeping in vinegar, all these better be brought in whether you are rejoicing or not.

 

A popular home show commercial tells us, “Some people know the difference between doing something and doing it right.” I always like to add, “And, not doing it at all.” (Yes, we talk to the TV in our house. Or, I should say, I do.) So what happens if we leave the sheaves, so to speak, lying out in the field? Sometimes nothing happens. That trowel will still be there sticking in the ground next spring.

 

But some things (sheaves) will die or disappear if you don’t bring them in. Some tender bulbs such as Calla Lilies and plants like Rosemary, Coleus and Geraniums will surely die if left out to freeze. They can be saved by taking cuttings from them, bringing them in, rooting them and then potting them up to keep growing until time to set them out next spring. These plants can be expensive and the scarce cultivars are sometimes sold out. “By and by the harvest, and the labor ended.” Rejoice!

 

Any number of You Tube videos describes the process of taking the cuttings, using a rooting hormone, rooting them and potting them up. Search for sites that end in edu from Extension and Ag schools or universities. That way you know you are getting science based information and not someone who is trying it for the first time and likes to hear themselves talk.

 

Things to do in the Garden:

 

Now is a good time to do soil tests. You have time (3 to 6 months) to amend your soil if required. You will avoid the spring rush when more people are sending their samples to the lab. To obtain soil sampling instructions and kits along with specific recommendations contact the local Cooperative Extension Office 740-474-7534.The Helpline is also available at the same number.

It’s not too late to plant spring flowering bulbs. Spring bulbs look best in a cluster. Try excavating an area rather than planting them one by one in single holes. Lift tender bulbs (caladiums, dahlias, glads etc.) and store for the winter. Sow seeds of hardy annuals (calendula, bachelor’s buttons). Mums can be “tidied up” but don’t trim back until spring.

 

Tender roses should be “hilled up,” mound the soil a foot deep around the base to protect the crowns. Also a wire cage filled with leaves surrounding them as protection can be added. Final pruning should be done in the spring, but long spindly canes can be trimmed off now. Climbing roses or ramblers should be tied to prevent injury from being whipped around by harsh winter winds. Do not feed. Clean up all dead and diseased rose leaves and put in the trash.

 

A fall fertilization of your lawn can be done now. Do not allow leaves to form a matted layer on the lawn. Rake and compost heavy layers of leaves. Running the mower over the rows of leaves at right angles a couple times will reduce them to half inch pieces which earth worms will pull into the soil. The latest recommendation is to continue to cut your lawn at 2.5-3 inches as long as it continues to grow. Run the gas out of your lawn and garden machinery or add gas stabilizer.

 

November is a good month to plant trees. For two short informative videos, go to; http://bit.ly/PlantATreeCbus. When your trees go dormant you can view; http://bit.ly/PruneATreeCbus and see how to prune them properly.

Make sure leaves and mulch are not heaped against the trunks of trees. Bring the mulch a foot away from the trunks of all trees. You may also want to stake newly planted trees from the winds of winter and early spring storms. Generally new trees more than 2” diameter don’t need staking. Consult ohioline.osu.edu for staking and other gardening information. Evergreens and shrubs should be watered deeply. Apply an anti-desiccant to broadleaf evergreens. Wait until dormant to do any normal pruning. Do not prune spring flowering shrubs (lilac, forsythia, spirea etc.) if you want them to bloom this spring.

 

Take stock by taking notes and map your garden while you can still remember where the plants were. This is particularly important for the vegetable garden. Clean your gardening tools and put them away. A coat of oil can prevent rust. A light coating of linseed oil on wooden handles prevents splitting due to weathering and drying. Drain garden hoses and store. At the very least disconnect from the outdoor spigots. Make sure underground irrigation lines are drained or blown dry with a compressor.

 

Remove the dead plants from containers and, if not diseased, compost. Unglazed terracotta pots must be stored indoors or they will be destroyed. The same goes for fragile garden ornaments. Synthetic containers can be left outdoors. Stop or reduce fertilizing indoor plants. Weed the vegetable garden and compost non-diseased debris. Place diseased materials in the trash. Remove stakes and cages, clean and store. Plant a cover crop.

 

Consider leaving the stems and seed heads of perennials. Nature is not compelled to neatness. She leaves cover for pollinators and butterflies to overwinter themselves or their pupae and eggs. You can clean up in the spring. Cut off dead annuals and, if not diseased, compost them. Now your beds are tucked in and settled down for a long winter’s nap.

Memories

October 2020

Pickaway to Garden

 

Memories

By Paul Hang

 

Does anyone not remember the song Mem’ries, as sung by Barbara Streisand? I apologize if I have caused you to remember something you had tried hard to forget. Memories are funny things. I’ll be out in the garden and suddenly think of a stretch of highway in another state that I drove down twenty years ago. Or a person I met 30years ago. I may remember their name. I may not remember the name of someone I met two minutes ago. They say, as we grow older, we have more trouble remembering proper names and nouns. I am proof of that. Who said that? I don’t remember.

 

They say the sense of smell is a powerful trigger to memories. I know every time I prune tomato plants or bruise their leaves the smell takes me back to the house on W. Mill St. that we moved into just before I started first grade. Near an old dilapidated chicken house in the backyard was a badly neglected garden with lots of weeds and volunteer tomato plants and the smell of the vines was new and distinctive to me and, evidently, unforgettable.

 

If you garden one of your motivators is probably a memory or two of plants, gardens, or gardeners. For a lot of people it is a grandparent and their gardens that served as motivation. For me it was a pair of great aunts one of whom was a WWI nurse. Most of their backyard was taken up with tidy rows of vegetables most of which I didn’t know. It was the fact that they were growing things you could eat right there in their yard that made an impression. My father at one time grew a lot of roses.

 

It’s possible that we garden as an attempt to regain emotional states that we experienced long ago that our memory connects to gardens. We might also garden as a way to make memories. This is true particularly when we entice grandkids into our gardens. Perhaps they will someday think of us as fondly as we remember our grandparents.

 

I remember gardens in my past, some fondly, some not so much. I remember crop failures and years of bountiful harvests of certain crops. The year of giant sunflowers, the year of giant dahlias, the year of giant pepper plants with hundreds of small peppers that were killed by the frost, are just some of the things I remember. I do not remember where I planted tomatoes last year. That is why we must remember to, WRITE IT DOWN.

 

Things to do in the garden:

 

Hot caps and covers should be made handy in case a frost or freeze is forecast. Remember that the coldest temperature usually comes a little after sunrise. The earth radiates heat away and the sun hasn’t climbed high enough to begin heating us. If you can protect your plants now, a couple more weeks of warmth is likely to follow, with more vegetables and flowers to harvest. Average first frost for south central Ohio is October 23.

 

Consider bringing in the houseplants. Make sure you don’t bring in any bugs with them; a good blast of water from your hose can wash most of them off. Bring the pots into a sheltered spot for a week or so to help the plants acclimate before shocking them with the warmer temperatures of your home.

 

In October, and even into early November, YOU CAN plant garlic and shallots. Cloves from store-bought garlic may not work as some are treated to delay sprouting. You can also order favorite varieties from seed catalogs. Separate the cloves and plant 4 inches apart.

 

Dahlias, glads, tuberous begonias and cannas should be dug and stored in a cool dry place. Most basements are too warm. Caladiums, on the other hand, should be stored at 65 - 70 degrees. Go to ohioline.osu.edu and bring up Factsheet HYG-1244-92 to get specific information on storing Summer Flowering Bulbs.

 

You can still divide day lilies and iris. Cut back the iris leaves to four-inch fans. Stop feeding your roses but don’t stop giving them water. Consider cutting back your roses halfway if they stop blooming. If you have dormant roses you can still plant them. Spring bulbs can be planted as soon as you get them. Plant them at a depth three times their length; place some bulb food in the hole with them. For a better display plant them in groups, not single file.

 

If you planted trees this year (it is still a good time, until the ground freezes) protect the trunks from gnawing rabbits and other varmints with hardware cloth or the plastic wrap made for this purpose. Even older trees can benefit from this if you’ve experienced this damage in the past.

 

It is still the best time to fertilize your lawn. Use a high nitrogen soluble product. You can still sow grass seed.

 

Leave seed heads of native coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans for the birds. Also leave stems for overwintering insects. You can put off most cleanups (but not in the vegetable garden) until next spring! Add mulch around perennials after the ground freezes, assuming it will.