Fall cleanup time
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[November 07, 2012]
Fall is definitely upon us, and
we know the season coming next! While the weather is somewhat
cooperative, it is time to take care of some of those final outside
chores. At least you'll feel prepared when the weather turns cold
and the main gardening activity is watching your favorite gardening
show on public television.
Leaves have been one of the main cleanup items the past few weeks.
They will continue to be an item, so here are a few options for you.
Mulch them where they aren't too thick. You can mulch with a mower,
blower vacuum or a chipper. This will reduce the volume greatly.
Then the mulched leaves can be used as a 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. Composting is 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. Mulching before composting
is a double-edged sword. The finer material will decompose quicker,
but it will also compact more and reduces the oxygen need to make
compost. For more information on composting, check the website at
Tender bulbs, roots or corms should be dug, if you already
haven't done so. These would include dahlia, cannas, 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 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 many such as mums
since they store food above ground as well as below. The couple of
inches 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 diseased.
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) and maples and other trees with a high sap flow. The
December to February time period is the best for pruning most
non-evergreens. Evergreens, including broadleaf evergreens such as
rhododendrons, are best pruned in June. Flowering trees and shrubs
are best done after they flower. This keeps flower bud numbers
higher for the next year. It isn't bad for the plants to prune
during the December to February period, but you will probably have
fewer blooms in the spring.
Many roses are far from preparing for winter yet, so we'll try to
cover rose care a little bit later. Just make sure you don't cover
the roses before dormancy, or you tend to have severe disease and
University of Illinois Extension]