Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Autumn Garden Chores

The weather this past weekend was nothing short of spectacular.  13 degrees on the holiday Monday.  So warm we had the doors wide open to let in some fresh air.  Warm enough to get out in the garden and continue picking away at my list of fall chores.

November 12th!!  I can't believe how nice it was so late in the fall.
Fall in this climate brings with it a number of necessary tasks.  Digging over the beds in the vegetable garden is one of them.  With such a large space it's taking me quite some time to get through each bed.  As you can see above I tackled this job yet again this weekend.

Another big job is digging up all the tubers and corms for winter storage.

I chose a pretty picture of dahlias as opposed to one of me covered in mud,
which is what happened when I tried to dig out the tubers.
We've had our first hard frost which means the dahlia's and gladiolas turned black and withered.  The plants were cut down and the tubers and corms had to be dug up.   I have addressed storing dahlia tubers before but I'll make an addition to that post.  Make sure you do NOT drain the hose and turn the water off BEFORE digging up your dahlias.  Pressure washing the dirt from the nooks and crannies in the tubers is the only way to properly clean them.  Swishing them around in a bucket of water, as suggested by my dear spouse, simply doesn't work.  I tried that and spent a good part of the day covered in mud and water only to have to set up the hose once again.

The gladiola corms are much easier to deal with than the large dahlia tubers.  I planted these in handy plastic trays - just dig out the tray and all your corms are right there.

These trays made digging up the glads really easy
I was surprised to find all the gladiola bulbs, when pulled out of their trays and washed down, are multiplying like crazy.

The plastic trays contain lots of holes for roots to grow through.
Looks like I won't be short of glads in the future if this keeps up.

Baby corms clustered around the roots.
This was also a good time for gathering some last seeds.  Nigella seed pods look pretty in the garden but I want to be sure to have some seed to scatter in new spots next spring.  I pulled several plants and hung them upside down in the garage to dry.  As the pods dry out I'll collect the seed in the coming weeks.


Winter winds are quite severe here and many people wrap their shrubs to protect them.  Last year I wrapped some of my newly planted evergreens in burlap.  However, I neglected to wrap my rhododendron and paid the price.  The evergreen leaves were shredded by spring so this year I made sure to erect some protection.


The clothes pins were a last minute choice to try and keep it all together but thus far it seems to be holding.  Cross your fingers my little burlap tent makes it through the winter.

The final task will be wrapping our trees.  After learning the hard way that voles can do extensive damage to young tree trunks over the winter we make sure now to protect them.

Red oak is a big temptation for voles
We have some plastic wrapping which works well on single trunks but we also purchased some plastic pipe to cover up those trees with multiple stems.


I think I'm ready for winter now.  Well at least the garden should be ready.  I wouldn't mind traveling to the tropics for a few months.

36 comments:

  1. Hello Marguerite: Glad you enjoyed the same nice weekend as we had here..it was around 15 degrees..I got a lot of trimming done..Wow, you sure accomplished a lot, you are tireless..I just returned from a two day holiday visiting a girlfriend, after having my brother and his wife here last weekend, then my granddaughter..good visit all around..that black tubing should work well, we used it one year..happy gardening..Lannie

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    1. Lannie, I should admit this didn't all take place in one weekend. It got stretched out a bit as the dahlias alone took me most of a day. I can't believe how big those tubers have gotten. I split one of them up into 4 different sections.

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  2. You have lots to do in fall. I have almost completed cleaning up the garden beds, but I do not have to dig up the gladiolas. They overwinter fine here. Your post, however, reminds me that I need to cover the trunks of those small trees.

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    1. How I wish I could overwinter glads and dahlias. Would be a lot less work. Of course I could just stop growing them but I can't seem to stop myself from continually buying more.

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  3. Now I wish that you had posted this last week before we got the 6 inches of snow...and our first frost.

    Been waiting to pull up those Dahlias, but we never got frost, and the it was -8 overnight...

    Mine are sitting in a clump of dirt in the garage.

    Probably all winter.

    Jen

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    1. Jen, I've done that before too. Sometimes you keep waiting for frost and the darn things just won't freeze. Some of my glads that were protected next to the garage I just couldn't wait anymore. I dug them up green and left them out to dry a couple days instead.

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  4. You are making me feel like a slug. I haven't done anything that I should be doing in the garden as yet. ha...

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    1. Lisa, I think you're a little warmer than me so you have lots of time. My worry here is that one day it'll snow and I'll be out of time just like that!

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  5. There is something so comforting about prepping everything for winter. And you are not only getting ready, but you are doing it in style -- those tubers are clean as can be, the gardens are neatened up, and those tree tubes are efficient and unobtrusive. You have the tidiest fall garden I have seen!

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    1. Thanks Laurrie. It's nice to tidy everything up and put it away for the season. Nothing nicer than coming back in spring and feeling like you can start fresh.

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  6. Such a lot of work wrapping all your shrubs and trees. We don't get a lot of wind and besides there is so much snow almost everything gets buried.

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    1. I was really surprised our first winter here to see all the burlap come out. Seems like there's hardly a house that doesn't have their shrubs wrapped. I had no idea how powerful that winter wind was though. After one winter of that I completely understood the need for burlap.

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  7. Great weather there lady! Good for you for taking advantage of it. Love the clothespins on the burlap, so cute yet so effective. :)

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    1. Thanks! I'm surprised at how well the clothespins are holding up. I was literally running through the house wondering, what in the world can I use to hold that stuff together..

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  8. We have been so lucky to have this great weather, it feel like a extension to Summer temp. I have wrapped all the trees at the bottom but I'm also going to buy some of that paint on protection for the higher up branches. The graveyard down the road from us uses it solely on all the trees and they have never had a problem. I'll let you know in the Spring if it works. You certainly have a lot of bulbs to over Winter, but they are so worth the effort.
    Your pictures of them are proof.

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    1. I've never even heard of paint on wind protection. What a crazy neat idea. I would have thought the larger trees would be tough enough to handle the wind, I've only been wrapping my babies.

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  9. I can't imagine how much you have to do before winter sets in. I am still looking to plant a couple trees next month. Also have a couple volunteer trees to put back in the ground -- dug them up when I found them.
    Love Nigella, have some seeds, need to scatter them about this year.

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    1. Janet, my hubby keeps asking if we can still plant a few trees and I've had to say no repeatedly. Too risky this late in the season here. Wish I could though, it's much nicer working outside in this cooler weather.

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  10. I've got to do some wrapping of young trees and shrubs as well - maybe next weekend. Do you dig or push the wrapping into the soil? I've been told you have to do that with voles.

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    1. Jason, I've heard that too. I try to push the plastic into the soil or pile up the dirt around the bottom. With some of the multi-trunk trees and shrubs that just isn't possible though so we do the best we can.

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  11. I can't even imagine living in a cold climate. I wouldn't know where to begin to get the garden ready for winter! I hope you have a mild winter, and that spring arrives early!

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    1. I've had to learn a lot since living here! When I lived on the west coast this stuff was pretty unheard of for me too.

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  12. Hi Marguerite, greetings from Northern Ontario. I'm just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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    1. Hi Chris, nice to meet you! Always nice to see new faces around here.

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  13. good work, marguerite .. i love putting gardens to bed for the winter .. although, that said, it's quite a different story than your prep for cold, snowy weather .. do you put straw in around the rhodo or does the snow become the insulator .. you have a lovely garden ..

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    1. Jane dear, how are you? been some time. yes winter prepping is awfully different here. It's been a big learning curve. No straw on the rhodo as it's not tender, Snow will insulate it but mostly it's just to block that cold biting wind. The leaves just wither up otherwise.

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  14. Hello Marguerite, You motivate me to grow dahlias -- very informative posting. Also, I like the way you wrapped the new evergreen. I have a blue mist shrub that gets damaged every year, so I will try doing the same. Thanks. P. x

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    1. Pam, burlap wasn't something I would have ever considered but you see it so often here I figured they must be onto something. The open weave still allows plenty of sun and air but it blocks the worst of the wind. Good luck with your shrub.

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  15. I was busy with fall chores today, too. I like the feeling of putting my garden to bed. Using the burlap and tubing is a smart way to protect your shrubs/trees. Love your dahlias!

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    1. Thanks Tammy. I can't take credit for the burlap and piping, learning a lot as I go along from the locals.

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  16. Marguerite what a great idea for plating the glads in those perforated trays !
    You just reminded me I need to get some tree trunk tubes to protect them as well !
    The weather here has been spectacular too .. just this past Saturday I was in the back garden with the boys doing clean up and it went well .. from 9 to 2 .. husband had his new leaf vacuum/shredder going great guns .. I would normally use the mulch but we have Black Tar Spot on our big maple so I avoided that one .. I may buy more mulch if there is any left to top up some areas .. I am trying to over winter Black Mondo grass .. I haven't done that before .
    Have you thought of using a stapler to attach the burlap in case the clothes pins are whipped off in the wind ?
    It is nice to be finished now eh ? LOL
    Joy : )

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    1. Joy, great minds think alike! I tried a stapler first on the burlap but the weave is too loose and the staples just kept falling out. Those plastic trays are the best for the small bulbs, loved being able to dig out a whole whack of them in one scoop.

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  17. Marguerite I know exactly what you mean about covered in mud and it's not just the gardener but all the tools as well, you have done a good job, I hope everything survives the winter well, I remember my Dad digging up his Dahlias, Frances

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  18. Wow, it looks like you are really ready for winter, Marguerite! I'm sure your rhodie is going to appreciate that warm blanket of protection come winter.

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  19. I always let the glads remain, we are a bit warmer than where you are located. Here the glads come back and multiply. The dahlias I used to bring in but decided not to overwinter them this year. Although they did reasonably well in our dry summer this year, other years they floundered. So I just decided if I want them again, try some new varieties from the nursery next year. I do like your tray idea. Very handy.

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  20. I am officially impressed! So organised, and those veg beds look great. Re dahlias, I was always lazy and just left them to dry off for a few days so that the earth just fell away! Apparenly I might get away with leaving them in the ground here, which I am very excited about...

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