The evenings have been really comfortable up until now, but we still aren’t getting much in the way of moisture, although the rain last Friday helped. Let’s all think good thoughts and maybe the moisture situation will improve this winter.
As with any fall, there are gardening chores to finish. And as with most falls, I continue to receive calls about them, so I am passing these thoughts on to you.
Some of the most important chores to consider can help reduce potential insect and disease issues next year. Always clean up fallen fruits, twigs and leaves around fruit trees. The fruit can easily harbor insects, and the twigs and leaves can easily harbor diseases. Related to this, don’t leave plant debris in the garden over the winter. It doesn’t provide any benefit and, considering the amount of old dead plants in most gardens, it can be an even larger source of insects or diseases the following year. If a particular plant had a disease or was heavily infested with insects you probably should totally remove what’s left, otherwise, all the plant debris is good organic matter. If you are good at composting, meaning not just putting it in a pile but actually working the material into compost, then compost or simply cut the plant material up and work it into the garden soil along with any other landscape plant debris. This is a great way to use all that material.
Those people who have lawns have finished or are probably getting close to that last lawn cutting of the year. The best and most important time to fertilize a lawn is the last time you cut it, since the nutrients can then be used by the plants to build up carbohydrate reserves, which helps the grass start out healthier next spring. The recommendation with any fertilization is no more than one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
Another lawn issue concerns the falling leaves. Rake up, or better yet, mow and bag the fallen leaves and put them in a compost pile or use in the garden. If we do get some rain those leaves can mat down and smother the lawn and could leave you with bare spots next spring if left on the grass too long.
If you have fruit trees, especially younger fruit trees, you should consider either wrapping or painting the bark of the tree trunks up to first scaffold limbs. If you decide on wrapping, take the wrap off in early spring – never leave it on year round. If painting, use 10 to 25 percent white interior latex paint mixed with water. Do not paint above the first scaffold limbs.
Finally, don’t forget to water fall-planted trees, shrubs or other plant material. If we have a dry winter also consider going out on a warm sunny day and irrigating the landscape. For best garden productivity you should be testing the garden soil to see what the current nutrient content is. The general recommendation is to test garden soil for fertilizer needs at least every three to five years.
For most of us our gardening is over, but some local agricultural producers still have products for sale. Check out Castle Valley Farms – they have a store on the property. For some local apples, the Pink Lady and Goldrush that Castle Valley Farms’ workers have just finished picking have been great this year.
Thought for the day: “Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.” —Linda Solegato
For more information about these topics call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.