Dig It - The Big Chill
by Sage and Snow Garden Club
October 25, 2010
Introducing "Ask Flora", an advice service provided by the Sage and Snow Garden Club. Flora will make routine appearances in the Dig It articles from now on.
I still have a lot of green tomatoes on my plants. Is there a way to ripen them before they freeze?
When covering the tomatoes becomes too arduous or the threat of the big snow is imminent, tomatoes can be pulled (root and all), the roots wrapped in newspaper and hung with roots up inside a garage, basement, or sunroom. The tomatoes will continue to ripen on the vine and you can have ripe tomatoes even into November. The other thing to try is to pick all the green tomatoes and place them between layers of newspaper in a cool dry place. They will continue to ripen at an unpredictable pace and will need to be sorted periodically.
Which trees, shrubs and bulbs are best planted in the fall?
Signed: Season Challenged
Fall is a wonderful time to plant trees, shrubs and bulbs. Day lilies, miniature iris, tulips, daffodils are just a few of the bulbs that will do well here – depending on the light. Many nurseries have great sales this time of year. Soil and site preparation are especially important, as well as watering, with fall planting. Some trees and shrubs that do well are Serviceberry, Dogwood- red twig or red osier, Juniper, Russian Olive, Cotoneaster, Caragana, Bearberry, Potentilla, and Quailbush. Be sure to wrap young trees with tree wrap found at your local hardware store to provide wind and deer protection. Start at the base and wrap around and over itself to hold the end up to the level of the 2nd branch. Put the wrap on in the fall and remove it in the spring after the last frost. Use screens to block the prevailing winter wind, such as lathe, fence, window screens or snow fencing. Apply winter mulch around trees no deeper than 3 inches and keep the mulch away from tree trunks. By the way, small trees and shrubs are available through the Sublette County Conservation District. Send email to Sno Ann Engler at email@example.com for a list. Trees are ordered in March and available in May.
Should I do anything special with my tools at the end of the gardening season?
Signed: Still Shoveling
Yes, a little work now will ensure that your tools perform well for you into the future. Clean dirt off of hand tools and power tools and coat with a spray lubricant, such as WD-40, so they don't rust. Sharpen pruners, loppers, and hedge shears with a whetstone. Enhance the edges of shovels and hoes with a metal file or bench grinder. Consult your power tool owner's manual for long-term storage instructions.
Is it important to clean up vegetable garden beds before spring?
Signed: My Aching Back
There is more than one answer here. As vegetables start to wane, harvest out the last produce and remove dead, dying or dried up plants and debris from the garden bed. This will help prevent the spread of disease and insect pests. If you had no disease or pests this year, you can leave the plant material on top of the beds to be raked in next spring or you can rake it in now.
How long should I continue to water my plants?
Signed: All Wet
Continue to water until there is constant snow cover and when air and soil temperatures are at least 40 degrees. Water mid-day so water can have a chance to soak in before possible freezing temperatures at night. Winter drought can harm root systems of plants and soil dries out faster in windy sites, so plants will need more supplemental water in these locations. Make sure to deep-water trees out to the drip line. Drain hoses, but keep them out for now. To finally put them away for winter, coil and tie with short lengths of twine for easy handling.
Come to our monthly get-togethers and learn secrets and tips from Flora and other local gardeners. The next Sage and Snow Garden Club gathering will be held on Tuesday, November 16th at the Sublette County Weed and Pest Office located at 12 South Bench Road (307-367-4728), Pinedale. Social time starts at 4:30 p.m. followed by the club meeting at 5:00 p.m.
Send questions for Flora to P.O. Box 2280, Pinedale, WY, 82941 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about the Garden Club, go to www.pindealeonline.com and click on the link under "clubs".