Fall Things: Mowing, Raking and Saving Last Fruits
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[October 29, 2007]
With frost a common occurrence this past
weekend, our reminder of the impending winter season has been
served. Use the remaining nice warm days to catch up, and there are
several things to consider.
Indian summer is now officially here after the frost. Leaves
have begun to drop. There has been much debate about the leaf
colors this year, due to the type of weather we had this summer.
While the red colors may not have developed as well, fall still
provides a dazzling pallet of colors. Of course, the maples
provide much of the flashy color. This year it does seem the
maples such as the sugars and reds have more of a golden color,
but that doesn't mean it isn't a sight to behold. The oaks and
hickories provide a great backdrop of browns to highlight the
yellow to orange colors.
Leaves always provide some
interesting family discussions. Usually the discussions revolve
around raking, not raking, mowing, composting, etc. Does it hurt
to mow leaves rather than rake? In most cases, it doesn't hurt a
bit. It's like mowing the grass. If you do it often enough, it's
fine. If you wait too long, you get to rake or catch. The rule
of thumb is if you bridge the mowed material up on the grass,
you need to remove it. Another option is to rake and compost.
While temperatures and material to mix in compost don't work as
well in the fall, the resulting material is a great mulch for
next year in the garden, flower beds and around shrubs and
trees. Leaves will smother grass if they are allowed to pile up.
Many of the tomato plants were blackened over the weekend.
You might still be able to salvage fruits by picking them. A few
may be placed on the kitchen counter to ripen. One option to
ripen them faster is to place a few in a paper sack with a
banana or banana peels. Bananas give off ethylene, which is the
same product used to ripen tomatoes sold in many stores.
Any remaining pumpkins or gourds should be cut from the vine
before the vine rots back into the fruit. Leave at least a
2-inch stub of the vine if possible. Once any type of vine or
stem rots into the fruit, the fruit decomposes quickly. This
rule of thumb also applies to tender bulbs.
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Keep mowing that grass. With improved moisture conditions, many
lawns are in the best shape they have been in since April. The frost
will start to slow things down, but continue to remove no more than
a third of the leaf blade at any mowing. Of course, this will also
help the leaf situation by chopping some up. The other thing to
consider is that the neighbors' leaves will blow off their newly
mowed yard and will catch on your longer grass if it is not mowed.
With another three-quarters of an inch of rain last week, we have
added some moisture for perennials. It is important to keep moisture
available for perennials as we head into the fall, particularly for
evergreens. Adequate moisture, and mulch, will help the evergreens
through the late fall and winter months. Use of an anti-transpirant
such as Wilt Pruf will also help evergreens during the winter
months. Applications are usually made just before freezing
temperatures become the norm.
Last column for the season
This will be the last regular column for the season. I've enjoyed
providing the information throughout the year. There will be a few
special offerings before I resume writing in February. You can
always check for current information at
www.extension.uiuc.edu/logan, and there is an
"In The Backyard" blog with horticulture information. Best of luck to you as we enter
the late fall and winter seasons.
[By JOHN FULTON, University of Illinois Extension,