November Garden Chores- tools, tree watering!
It's wonderful outside; here are some garden chores that will help you in the next growing season.
Plant Bulbs- there is lots of time left for this!
I chose to plant a wild, species tulip mixture this year. Last year I planted an extensive amount of daffodils (thanks, honey for the help!)! It was such a wonderful sight. Wow- bulbs really give it back to you!!
Don't bother to fertliize them until they start to push a little green in the spring. Just dig a hold that is deep enough (twice the depth of the bulb) and pop the bulb in pointing up. That pointy nose is the top!
Clean your tools
Why clean tools??
If you clean after every use, you prevent diseases, fungi,insect larva, weed seeds from spreading around your garden. You also extend the lifespan when you removesoil after every use- soil encourages rust (through moisture) and will eat thesharp edge off of your tools! The sharper the edge of your spade, trowel, hoe, edger,the easier they cut. The easier they cut, the less muscle you have to put intothe project!
How do I clean them?
Hose off any tool that comes in contact with soil afterevery use. Use a garden hose set on maximum pressure or, with heavy clay soil,scrub with a bristle brush. DRY YOUR TOOLS- just like that nice sharp knife inyour kitchen!
For cutting tools with sharpened edges that don’t come incontact with soil (like loppers, clippers, axes, pruning shears, knives), wipethem down with a rough cotton cloth. The idea is to remove sap and gum from theblades. Use a little paint thinner on a cloth to remove really sticky stuff….Again, dry the tool after cleaning!
Prevent Future Damage
Steel tools are still susceptible to rust, even aftercleaning and drying. Note: the higher the grade of steel, the more vulnerableto rust. Use oil to repel dirt, dust and erosion. Interestingly, motor oil is touted as a great inexpensive rust preventer! They say, mix motor oil and kerosene in a 2:1 ratio(two part oil to one part kerosene). Put it in a sprayer for easy use. [Please dispose of it as you would motor oil and store in a safe way, away from heat sources]
Sharpening is a bit more complex, but shovels, axes, trowels and hoes are easily sharpened by hand. Get an 8" long mill file with a bastard cut (that's straight dudes, not curved). Mine cost $8.99 at the hardware store. Get one with a handle- you'll need it.
RULE OF FILE: Only draw the teeth one direction over theedge being filed. Sawing back and forth? Never. Ever. Hold the tool to be sharpened in a vise or some otherbracing system, so you can use both hands. You must maintain the same angle tothe edge as you push the file across it. To sharpen shears and knives, you need a vise and an oilstone. Like sharpening the good kitchen knife, go one direction and follow the instructions that your oil stone comes with!
Hang Your Tools
Really, fancy systems to organize your tools aren’tnecessary, unless you want them! Use a two-by-four with 10-penny nails as yourholder. Put the business end of your tool down, so as not to hit yourself orsomething else when you take it down. With wooden handled tools, just drill a hole in the handle of your tools (axes, rakes, shovels, etc.). Put a piece of leather through the end and Voila!
Random questions about tree care in cold months:
Tree Bags? Try a tree bag ( brand name Treegator) to help water correctly. It provides deep, root zone watering with no run off or evaporation. So if you choose to ignoremy directions about how to water, you can use this device! This is a goodsafety for newly planted trees and folks who have “brown thumbs”. Our opinionaround here: they should be one on every tree in every median, City of Lawrence.
Frank Male, our lovely production manager also reminds me of this: water every holiday through the winter. Water on Thanksgiving, Christmas,Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick ’s Day. This cold weather watering can really minimize winter damage and help trees survive and thrive in the spring.
Bark Wrap? Trees and shrubs can be damaged by sudden fluctuations of temperature (hello,Kansas!), prolonged periods of low temperature with no insulating snow andunexpected early/ late season cold snaps. Sun scald happens on the south,southwest side of an immature tree. It can heat up on a cold winter day,initiating cambial activity. (This means it starts to grow) Suddenly, the temperature drops and it kills the tissue. This means a big old wound, dead place and scar on your delicate new tree. Put commercial bark wrap on your tree to insulate and maintain a more even temperature. Paper or plastic work fine, as long as it’s put on in the early fall and removed in spring. Trees with thin bark who need this specialattention: cherry, crabapple, honey locust, linden, maple, ash, plum.
Since bark is much like skin, the wound can also heal. Take a sharp knife and cut out the wound in the same shape. Wrap in future winters to prevent more damage. Don't dress the wound.
Look at the picture -- This is a downtown Lawrence tree (awesome lights!). Notice the bark wrap? Yup. But also, look at the stakes. It is really important to stake young trees. Most nursery men agree that stakes are very important for the first year. If you are planting a tree on a windy, exposed site, leave the stakes on two or three years. Please note that trees in their 2nd or 3rd year in the ground can really grow exponentially. Watch that any cables or ties are not cutting into the bark (cambium).
Winter Kill of Evergreens
Winter sun and wind cause excessive transpiration (foliage water loss) while the roots are in frozen soil and unable to replace lost water. This results in desiccation and browning of the plant tissue.
Bright sunny days during the winter also cause warming of the tissue above ambient temperature which in turn initiates cellular activity. Then, when the sun is quickly shaded, foliage temperature drops to injurious levels and the foliage is injured or killed.
During bright, cold winter days, chlorophyll in the foliage is destroyed (photo-oxidized) and is not resynthesized when temperatures are below 28F. This results in a bleaching of the foliage.
Cold temperatures early in the fall before plants have hardened off completely or late spring after new growth has occurred can result in injury or death of this nonacclimated tissue.
Foliar damage normally occurs on the south, southwest, andwindward sides of the plant, but in severe cases the whole plant may be affected.Yew, arborvitae, and hemlock are most susceptible, but winter browning canaffect all evergreens. New transplants or plants with succulent, late seasongrowth are particularly sensitive.
There are several ways to minimize winter injury toevergreens. The first is proper placement of evergreens in thelandscape. Yew, hemlock, and arborvitae should not be planted on south orsouthwest sides of buildings or in highly exposed (windy, sunny) places. A second way to reduce damage is to prop pine boughs or Christmas tree greens against or over evergreens to protect them from wind and sun and to catch more snow fornatural protection.
(thanks university of minnesota extension for the great winter kill info)