Leaves have been one of the main cleanup items this past week.
They will continue to be an item, so here are a few options for
where they aren't too thick. You can mulch with a mower,
blower vacuum or a chipper. This will reduce the volume
mulched leaves can be used as, well, mulch; but they may
best be used on beds away from the house. The decaying
organic matter tends to increase the millipedes, pill bugs
and other nuisance pests around the house.
also a great option. Composting leaves isn't tricky, it just
takes a little bit of formulation. The rule of thumb is to
add about one-fourth of a cup of commercial fertilizer per
compressed bushel of leaves, or to use one part leaves and
two parts of green material such as grass clippings or green
material removed from the garden.
before composting is a double-edged sword. The finer
material will decompose quicker, but it will also compact
more, reducing the oxygen need to make compost.
information on composting, check
Tender bulbs, roots or corms should be dug, if you already
haven't done so. These would include dahlia, canna, caladium,
tuberous begonia and gladiolus. Many of these will actually have
rotting problems from frost. Be careful when digging so the
bulbs are not cut, as any wound usually means a rot will begin.
Any bulbs that look diseased should be thrown away.
Most bulbs can be dried at room
temperature, but gladiolus should be dried at a higher
temperature (70-80 degrees) and dusted with malathion to protect
against thrips. Store all the bulbs in a cool, dry place.
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Plants that are completely dormant, such as peonies, can be cut
back. Leave a couple of inches above ground on plants such as mums
since they store food above ground as well as below. The couple of
inches of stems will also help catch snow and leaves to help create
a "self-mulched area" to help them survive the winter.
Clean up around fruit trees, the garden area and flower beds.
Materials may be composted as long as they are not severely
December through February are the best months to apply the plugs
to pin oaks and other trees that show iron chlorosis. It is best to
not do any pruning at this time. Wait at least until December for
the non-evergreens, with December being the best month for oaks (due
to oak wilt), maples and other trees with a high sap flow. The
December-to-February time period is the best for pruning most
non-evergreens. Do the evergreens in late June.
Generally, knockout roses don't require special care in hardiness
zone 5 or south. We are in zone 5b. If you do want to do something
because of prior problems, you can mulch the crown area. Some go to
the extreme and burlap them or put wire around them and fill with
leaves, but that is entirely up to you. The basic care is a pruning,
if needed, in the early spring to size or shape.
Last regular column for the season
This will be the last regular column for the season. It's been a
pleasure providing columns again this year. There will probably be a
few special releases dealing with holiday items during the coming
months. Best of luck to you as you wrap up this growing season.
University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]