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Few clouds

A new year is here, like it or not.  Time marches on and we had better learn to march with it and stay in step.  Things change and we have to learn to accept those changes.  The change may be better or worse but we have to live with most of them.

What we can't change are the events of 2015.  They are history.  Historians can rewrite them but they can't change them.  Now we should all strive to make 2016 a better year.

With that out of the way what about our lawns and gardens?  2015 left a lot to be desired weather wise.  It was cool, cloudy and overcast much of the year.  We just did not see many sunny, bright days.  Most vegetables like sunny, warm days, with maybe a slight breeze.  Some flowers like shade and not really bright sun, but they don't like humid, damp days.  Most flowers, vegetables and even grass and shrubs don't do well when  they stay wet for extended periods of time.

The damp, overcast days when plant foliage stays wet almost all day promotes many kinds of disease problems.  While it is possible to control some of the diseases with fungicides, it is not easy and it can be expensive.  Fungicides have a short life, usually no more than 10 to 14 days.  It it stays cloudy the disease will be right back unless you continue to spray.

If I could order weather online, of course, I would order an inch of rainfall every week to 10 days, with bright sunshine and a mild breeze in between rain.  As it is I will take what Mother Nature sends and learn to cope with it.



Maintenance Tips for Winter

Gary's Lawn and Garden Maintenance Tips for Winter

Things are beginning to slow down now, but there is still work to be done to maintain a nice looking landscape.

  1. The fall has been so mild that a last mowing may still be in order.  You want to leave the lawn cut nice and even at a height of about 3 inches.
  2. If you are doing the 3 fall application program you still have plenty of time to do the last application.  If you have not put down any fertilizer you still have time to apply either 1 or 2 applications.
  3. Continue to keep leaves and debris out of your beds through the winter.  They are the perfect habitat for insects and disease to overwinter.
  4. As long as the soil is workable you can plant shrubs and trees.  Professional landscapers work all winter - weather permitting.
  5. Shrub pruning, mulching and liming can all be done anytime the weather permits over the winter.
  6. If you have a vegetable garden, I suggest you cut the dead vegetation and burn it.  Again, it is a perfect place for insects and disease to overwinter.  If you put it in a compost bed you are asking for trouble.
  7. Whether you rake, vacuum, mow or mulch, the important thing is to get those fallen leaves off the lawn as quickly as possible.
  8. Gather all your scattered garden tools in one place.  Wash all the dirt off, sharpen blades and spray with WD40.  This will prevent rust and the tools will be where you can find them and ready to go in the spring.
  9. Make compost.  Compost requires a carbon source (brown stuff) and a nitrogen source (green stuff).  The challenge is to have brown stuff and green stuff at the same time.  A good trick is to use rabbit pellet food as your nitrogen source (green stuff) and dead leaves as your carbon source.  Alternate dead leaves, rabbit food and water in a compost pile.  Table scraps can also be added to the pile.
  10. Clean your perennial beds.  Leave seed heads that might be appealing to birds at least until time for new growth.  Mound mulch or leaves around tender perennials to offer some winter protection.  Remove any weeds from beds and mark them so you can find them next spring.
  11. Read a good book on gardening in Central Virginia or take a class that might help you in 2016.
  12. Last but not least plan for next year.  Design beds over the winter, jot down what needs changing in the landscape.   Now is the time to decide what you will plant in 2016.  Planning ahead will vastly improve the looks of what you do as well as save you money.

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