Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

November 9, 2011

In This Issue
Bunny Love
Cold Cuts
Well Watered For Winter
Cold Storage At Your Feet
Bad Company
Preparing For Winter
Wild Things

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This Week's Phots



It is so great to see the sun shining today. The last two days have been dark, gloomy and wet. Rain is what we wanted and rain is what we got. Lots of it. It looks as if we received a little over two inches in our area. On Monday evening the rain was coming down so hard at times that we could not see across the street. A deluge causing minor flooding around town. Thunder, lightning, wind, all the makings of a spring-like thunderstorm. I enjoyed all of it but the cold, dank feeling yesterday. It reminded me of the many days like it looming in our future. Winter is knocking on the door and I am reluctant to let it in.

The entire Marsh family worked in the yard all day Sunday gathering the leaves that have littered themselves in every nook and cranny of our property. The good news is that once we were finished we were all exhausted and satisfied by the work we had completed. The bad news, the large oak and ginko in our yard look as if they haven't dropped a single leaf. I had the boys fill many bags of leaves. Our youngest, Jake asked why were not composting them. I explained that the compost bin just isn't large enough to hold all the leaves that fall. I went on to say that we will use many of the fallen leaves in garden beds creating a nice warm blanket for winter. He seemed satisfied with my answer and yet continued to complain about having to bag leaves. By the way, we use only paper bags and have for years. No plastic here! If you are using plastic I hope that you consider switching to paper. One more way of helping out the environment.

Kevin took advantage of the nice weather this weekend. Not only did he help with leaves, he cleaned the gutters and hung the Christmas lights. Yep, you heard right. Hung the Christmas lights. I think we both decided since he was up on the ladder cleaning out gutters, he might as well hang the lights too. We haven't turned them on, and I think the neighbors are thankful for that.
~ Shelly

Bunny Love...
During the winter months, rabbits often gnaw on the bark of many woody plants. Heavy browsing can result in the complete girdling of small trees and small branches clipped off at snow level. Apple, pear, crabapple and serviceberry are frequent targets of rabbits. Small trees with smooth, thin bark are the most vulnerable. Other frequently damaged plants include the winged euonymus or burning bush, Japanese barberry, dogwood, roses and raspberries.

The best way to prevent rabbit damage to young trees is to place a cylinder of hardware cloth (1/4 inch mesh wire fencing) around the tree trunk. The hardware cloth cylinder should stand about 1 to 2 inches from the tree trunk and 20 inches above the ground. The bottom 2 to 3 inches should be buried beneath the soil. Small shrubs, roses and raspberries can be protected with chicken wire fencing.                

Cold Cuts...
shearsNow that we've got a couple of killing frosts under our belts it's time to do some cutting back of dormant perennials. Cut them back to about three-inches above the soil surface. Once the ground is frozen, they can be mulched to guard against displacement due to soil heaving. These simple steps will help ensure a successful show of foliage and color next season.

Well Watered For Winter...


For maximum winter protection, Savvygardeners need to water landscape evergreens thoroughly once every week or so until the ground freezes. Evergreens continue to lose moisture from their foliage all winter, but once the ground is frozen, they'll be unable to take up enough water to replace it. Sending them into winter well watered reduces the potential for damaged foliage. There's more... broadleaved and tender evergreens exposed to drying winds and sun may need to be shaded on the south and southwest sides to reduce moisture loss and foliage injury.

Cold Storage At Your Feet...


Need a good place to store root crops? Just look down! Carrots, radishes, turnips and Jerusalem artichokes store well outdoors in the ground. Just before the ground freezes, bury them under a deep layer of leaves or straw to protect the ground from freezing. Simply harvest them as needed during winter by pulling back this protective mulch and digging them up. Just make sure you replace the mulch after each visit! 
Note: This is not an effective storage method where rodents, rabbits, or other critters are present and hungry.

Bad Company...


If you decide to store your vegetables indoors (instead of in the ground like we mentioned above) make sure you don't place them with any apples or pears. As they sit these fruits give off ethylene gas which speeds up the breakdown of vegetables and causes them to develop off-flavors. Yuck!

Preparing For Winter...


Each year we are asked for a reminder of what to do to prepare for winter. While recent temperatures have been up and down, there is no doubt that permanent cold weather is around the corner. Take advantage of the current mild weather and prepare for winter now, while you can still work in relative comfort outdoors! You'll find a handy checklist in our feature article, Preparing for Winter in the Garden...

Wild Things...


Wild onion and wild garlic are difficult-to-control weeds. These weeds look very similar to the garden variety onion except the stems of the wild type are much thinner and do not grow as tall as the garden variety. The most effective method for controlling onion and garlic is to create a dense turf through proper fertilization and regular mowing, thereby making these weeds less noticeable and less problematic.


Wild onion and garlic die back to underground bulbs during early summer, but bulbs will germinate during the fall and winter. Selective chemical control is difficult and normally ineffective, so co-existing with these plants is often the best choice. One method is to apply 2,4-D immediately after mowing so the herbicide can enter through the cut leaves. This will usually burn back the leaves but may not kill the underground bulb, thus multiple years of applications will be needed.



"The scarlet of maples can shake me like a cry 

Of bugles going by. 

And my lonely spirit thrills 

To see the frosty asters like smoke upon the hills."  

~ William Bliss Carman

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