Power Equipment Protection...
Power equipment, such as lawn mowers, tillers and chippers require additional winter preparations. As you finish with any of these machines for the season give them some TLC before putting them away.
- Wipe collected grease, dirt and plant material from all equipment.
- Tighten loose screws and nuts.
- Sharpen cutting edges and wipe them with an oily rag.
- If your equipment has a four-cycle engine, change the oil by following instructions listed in your owner's manual.
- Clean the oil and air filter line by starting the engine and letting it run until it stops.
- Two-cycle engines, or engines that run with a gas and oil mixture, also should have the oil-gas mixture removed for the winter. Run the engine with the choke open to remove fuel from the lines.
- Check the spark plug and replace it if it is worn.
- Replace other worn or damaged parts as well.
Also, avoid storing gasoline over the winter. Old gasoline does not ignite easily, making the machines using it work harder.
Houseplant Hints...The growth of your houseplants will slow as the days get shorter and light intensity is reduced. This means that they will need less frequent watering and fertilizing through the winter. Too much of either in the coming months can cause weak growth leading to undue stress next spring.
All Coiled Up And No Place To Go...
If you are putting your hoses away for the season take care of how you store them. Be very careful not to kink the hose. Any kink becomes a weak point and hoses often crack in these locations. Do not hang your hoses on nails as this promotes kinking and weak spot formation. Instead store them on reels, hose supports or simply coil them loosely on the floor. Before storing make sure all the water has been drained out. Find a dry place for it and your hose will be ready to go when spring returns.
Protect Those Pots...
Cold nights have Savvygardeners worrying about protecting their gardening valuables (plant and non-plant alike). Often overlooked items include your outdoor plant pots. Any pots that contain moist soil are subject to cracking and breaking as we cycle through freezing and thawing weather. Solution? Just empty all the soil from your pots and store them in a sheltered area for the winter.
Bundle Up For Winter...
Young thin-barked trees, such as maples and many fruit trees, are especially susceptible to frost cracking or sunscald. Prevent damage by wrapping their trunks with commercial tree wrap or painting the south and southwest-facing sides of the trunk with white latex outdoor paint.
Still Time To Till...
Autumn is an excellent time to add organic materials and till garden soils. However, even winter can be a good time to take care of this chore as long as the soil isn't frozen. It is far wiser to till now (if soils are dry) than to wait until spring when cold, wet conditions can limit your ability to work soils easily. Working soil when it is wet destroys soil structure and results in hard clods that are very slow to break down.
There is a limitation to how much organic material such as leaves can be added in one application. Normally, a layer 5 to 6 inches deep is the maximum that can be added at one time. Shredding the material before application will encourage faster and more complete decomposition due to increased surface area.
Time To Mulch Roses?
It's still too early to mulch your roses. Savvygardeners find it's best to wait for the ground to be fully frozen as this assures that the roses have been given a chance to "harden off". You can prepare for later mulching by collecting and setting aside the soil and mulch that you will use later. Cover this material with a tarp to keep it dry and once the ground has frozen you will have a good source of loose mulching material.
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