By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

This time of year, some gardeners are suffering from “Garden Fatigue.” They are praying for frost so they can stop gardening. Of course, this is not true for the avid gardener. He /she would like at least 2 or 3 more months of gardening weather to be sure that that new plant/ tree/ shrub/ they just planted is well established before snowman weather.

Even if you are suffering from G.F. there are some things that need to be done this time of year. To ensure a weed free garden (as if there were such a thing) keep pulling weeds. Every weed left in the garden is a million weeds next spring. Remove all the dead vines from the garden. They often have disease or insects in them. They also tend to wrap around the tiller tines leading to blue air vented by the tiller operator. Keep mulching. Bare soil attracts weed like white pants attract dirt. Bring in vacationing house plants when the night-time temps drop to about 45 regularly. Give them a good bath first to clean off dirt and any hitchhiking bugs like spider mites or aphids. If they have gotten too big for their pots, now is a good time to thin and repot them in new potting soil.

Keep watering. Trees and shrubs need fall rains to survive our winters. Any newly planted tree or shrub will need extra water for a full 5 years. Perennials will winter better if they go into the winter well-watered before the first frost. (Dirty word, that). Keep removing any diseased leaves from trees, flowers or vegetables and bag or burn them. Many diseases enter the soil from diseased plant materials and just wait there to attack your tender, baby plant next summer.

Start to cut the grass long now, at least 3 to 3 ½ inches. This shades out the smaller weeds and helps prevent those ugly brown spots in the lawn when we have a hot dry spell.

Apples are probably not ripe yet, but you can check by cutting one open. If the seeds are black or dark brown, the apple is ripe. Apples will tolerate a light frost, down to 28 degrees with out damage. Just don’t touch them until they warm up.

If you see a web in your trees now, you are seeing fall webworms. Although this looks terrible it really has little impact on a healthy tree. Do not attempt to burn the web. It will damage the tree and just warm up the worms. Instead, put on a glove and pull the web out of the tree and squish the worms in it. If you get the collywobbles just thinking about squishing worms, cut the branch off and burn the whole thing.

Even though you don’t hear them singing this time of year, the native birds are still eating bugs and weed seeds. To encourage them to stay, leave any seed heads standing in the flower garden.  The goldfinches especially enjoy the seeds of purple coneflower in the winter. Put out the suet and fill the feeders now.  It’s only polite to feed guests.

Do cut down your iris leaves now and bag them.  This will help cut down on iris borer next year. Remove the leaves and bag or burn them. Leave any annuals that you like to go to seed. If they are hybrids, you won’t get the same flower, but what the heck, it’s a flower and if you don’t like it, pull it out.

Frost is coming. Let’s hope its not soon.