Time to tackle end-of-season chores

October 27, 2012

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It is a little spooky how quickly months pass. In the blink of a bat’s eye, Halloween marks the beginning of the end of North Central Texas’ fall gardening season.

It bears repeating – time flies when you are enjoying the cool days that autumn affords. So, take advantage of the remaining milder weather by tackling end- of-the-year chores. Time spent dividing perennials, planting trees and sowing spring-flowering bulbs will be amply rewarded next year. Undertake the following tasks:

Remove weedy plants before they set seed.

Plant native grasses such as little bluestem, inland sea oats, Gulf muhly or bushy bluestem. Buy grasses in full bloom for an immediate show.

Shop late-season sales for fall-blooming perennials such as Mexican bush sage, Mexican mint marigold or autumn aster.

Enjoy chrysanthemums; they endure most frosts and light freezes.

Add mulch to all planting beds to minimize spring weeds and protect plant roots.

Reduce irrigation. Water once every 2-3 weeks when rain is inadequate.

Purchase spring-blooming bulbs such as narcissus, daffodils, snowflakes, iris, crinums and rain lilies and plant them in November.

By mid-November, dig and divide spring perennials such as iris, daylilies, daisies, hardy amaryllis and oxalis.

Plant new trees and shrubs now to establish their roots before freezing weather. Plant woody ornamentals. For winter interest, plant trees and shrubs that produce berries or exhibit interesting bark.

Purchase and spread wildflower seed through November. Mow grass and weeds close to the ground before spreading seed. Rake the soil surface to help seeds make contact with soil. Keep seed moist for good germination.

Spread spring-flowering annual seed such as larkspur, poppies and sweet pea.

In the morning after the dew has dried, collect annual and perennial seeds. Store seeds in paper bags or other packets that deter moisture.

RAKE, SHRED LEAVES

Rake fallen leaves and shred them with a mower. Never bag leaves for disposal; compost them instead.

Add compost to landscape beds. Lightly work compost into the soil. Do not till the soil deeply as weed seeds may be exposed to sunlight, increasing germination. Tip for new bed preparation: Layer newspaper atop the soil before adding compost and organic amendments. The newspaper will smother weeds and feed the soil as it decomposes.

Apply 2-4 inches of mulch to landscape beds. Hardwood mulch does not float, does not form a moisture barrier and breaks down, adding nutrients to the soil.

Plant cool-season annuals such as violas, pansies, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and hardy cyclamen.

Take cuttings of annuals such as coleus, geraniums, impatiens and begonias to propagate and keep in a greenhouse over the winter.

Continue to harvest fall crops until the first heavy frost. After plants are spent, tidy the vegetable beds by removing debris and adding it to the compost pile. Add soil amendments and mulch.

Resources: Texas AgriLife Extension

For answers to your horticulture questions, please call the Texas AgriLife Extension, Hood County at 817-579-3280 and ask to speak to a Master Gardener or visit the website at hoodcountymastergardeners.org.

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Category: Horticulture Archived