It may seem strange to think that the last part of October is the time to get ready for spring. But I have found that the more I do in the fall, the easier it is in the spring. Also, I have found that the better I prepare my flower garden, my vegetable garden, my lawn, my trees and shrubs for winter, the healthier they are in the spring. Many diseases and insects over winter in the debris from dead leaves and flowers in your garden and so they need to be removed. These are some of the things you can do:

        Get out a notebook and write down what worked and what didnít this year. What flowers really bloomed for you and what were disasters? Write it down. I have a hard time remembering in the spring which tomatoes I planted where last year and which ones really did well. I also write down which row in the vegetable garden had what kind of plant. Every year I try to rotate and move things over one row. You might also want to write down where you got the plant or seed that did very well so you can go back next year.  Make a note of any particular productive or unsatisfactory varieties of vegetables that you planted this year. Such information can be very useful when planning next years' garden.

        Did you plant a new shrub or tree this year? Write down the kind of tree or shrub, the cultivar, where purchased, and where planted. Be sure and save that tag that came with the tree or shrub. I also have a drawing of my rose bed with the name of each rose. Without that map I canít seem to remember what the names are.

        Remove any diseased or insect-infested plant material from your garden, as it may harbor over-wintering stages of disease or insect pests. If you leave this plant material in your garden, you are leaving diseases and insects which will begin to reproduce again next spring and add to next years' pest problem. Do not put these in your compost pile.

        Rake up leaves, twigs and fruit from crabapple trees and dispose of them in the trash to help control apple scab disease.

        Be sure to keep strawberry beds weed free. Every weed you pull now will help make weeding much easier next spring.

        Reduce peony botrytis blight and hollyhock rust by removing and disposing of all old leaves and stems this fall. This will reduce the carryover of the diseases during the winter and you will have less trouble next year. Apply Bordeaux fungicide to the peony bed after stems are cut and removed.

        Inspect trees and shrubs for bagworm capsules. Remove and destroy them to reduce next year's pest population. Do not just put the bags in the garbage can. If the eggs hatch or the worms crawl out they will climb back into the tree or shrub. Soak the bag in a pail of water for an hour or so, or step on the bags so the eggs are destroyed.

        Remove all mummified fruit from fruit trees and rake up and destroy those on the ground. Also, rake and dispose of apple and cherry leaves. Good sanitation reduces reinfestation of insects and diseases the following season.

        Iris borers overwinter in old leaves and stems left in the garden

        Blackspot can overwinter in the dead rose leaves and foliage left in the bed. Do not put any diseased leaves and plant material in your compost where it can overwinter.

        After the first light frost, spray or dig up those weeds in your lawn, especially ground ivy, henbit, clover, and dandelions. Two to three applications of Trimec, Clopyralid, or Triclopyr, 7 to 10 days apart is recommended. Weeds destroyed now will not go to seed early next spring. Weeds sprayed next spring will usually still set seeds and those seeds will germinate next summer or next fall.

        Remove leaves from your lawn. I pick mine up with the lawn mower and put them in the compost pile. A small amount can be mulched into the lawn without problems. Leaves left on the lawn may smother and kill the grass this winter.

        Start a compost pile with the shredded leaves and grass. The organic material tilled into the garden or used as mulch in the flower garden, is the best material you can add to break up hard clay soil.

        Apply a winter fertilizer to your lawn after Halloween and before New Yearís Day. This is the best Christmas present you can give it. Do not apply too early in the fall or you will burn the grass.

Copyright 2005




          This past summer I planted some miniature pumpkins (Wee-B-Little & Jack Be Little) for our granddaughter and also had a volunteer plant come up.  I ended up with over 200 pumpkins. My wife saw a recipe in the paper for using mini pumpkins so she thought she would try to bake a couple. They were very good and tasted as good, or even better than the acorn squash I raised. If you have mini pumpkins left over from your decorations, try to bake one in the oven. She cut the bottom off, cleaned out the seeds, and baked it in a baking dish with a little water at 350 degrees for one hour. Just like you would squash. You might be surprised how good they are. The article in the paper also said they work very well as soup bowls. Surprise your dinner guests for Halloween or Thanksgiving with real pumpkin soup bowls.

Copyright 2005