Winter Gardening Chores

Here are a few thing you can do in the garden while waiting for spring to arrive….

  1. Check yard for damaged plants
  2. Check newly planted and newly staked trees to see if they are still stable
  3. Sharpen gardening tools
  4. Organize & clean greenhouse and/or garden shed
  5. Recycle pots you are not going to use in the spring (see AGC’s article on where to recycle pots in the Rogue Valley)
  6. Clean bird feeders and continue feeding wild birds
  7. Check stored fruits and vegetables
  8. Spray stone-fruit trees with copper or lime-sulfur
  9. Check yard and garden for drainage issues
  10. Check house, yard (and autos) for rodent activity
  11. Read gardening books
  12. Shop seed catalogs, and order your seeds for spring, summer, fall and winter planting
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Sun, Shade, Partial Sun, Partial Shade – What does it mean?

Often these terms are confusing even for a seasoned gardener, so below are some 20170502_182451guidelines to shed light on the subject, and help you plant with confidence.

Full Sun: 6 hours of direct sunlight anytime during the day. It could even be 3 hour in the morning, then 3 more in the afternoon, but 6 hours total is the minimum.

Partial Sun: 3-6 hours of direct sunlight, but provide some relief from hot afternoon sunshine.

Shade: Less than 6 hours of sunlight, is considered a shady area.

Partial Shade: 3-4 hours of morning or early afternoon sunlight, then shaded or getting indirect light in the late afternoon.

Dappled Sun: Similar to partial shade, some sunlight makes it through the branches of deciduous trees.

 

Full Shade: Lessen than 3 hours of sunlight. Morning sunshine is the best, then receiving some dappled sun or filtered light during the day.

Shade Tolerant: Plant prefers more sunlight, but can be planted in partial shade. Possibly deceiving statement, because plant performance could be substandard if planted in partial shade.

 

Note:  Some plants listed for shade gardens in USDA Zones 7-8 may perform better in full sun in Zones 4-5.

Submitted by: Carlotta Lucas

 

 

 

The Beauty of Leaf Mold

Instead of carting off your tree leaves to the landfill, or recycling them in a yard debris bin, why not improve your soil by making leaf mold?  Leaf mold is made from decayed tree leaves;  it’s easy to make, it’s free and it improves your soil!leaf mold bin

How Leaf mold helps:

  1. Adds trace minerals to the soil
  2. Reduces rainwater runoff, and evaporation
  3. Retains moisture. Leaf mold hold 50% of it’s own weight in water
  4. Loosens compacted soils
  5. Cools roots and foliage during hot weather
  6. Improves habitat for soil dwellers, such as earthworms & beneficial bacteria
  7. As mulch it helps control weeds
  8. Saves you money by using less fertilizer and less water

Methods:

Build a 3-4 foot tall wire-fence enclosure, fill it up with leaves, add water, cover with cardboard, mix occasionally if you want to, but it’s not necessary and in two years the leaves break down into a rich brown weed-free mulch.

To speed up the process:  Place your wire bin in a semi-shaded area, shred your leaves, add some nitrogen like grass clippings, coffee grounds, or a 1/2 cup of high nitrogen fertilizer, like urea, then cover leaves with a piece of cardboard.
Note: If you don’t own a leaf shredder, then make a pile of leaves and run over them with your lawnmower several times. You should have leaf mold in 9-12 months.

You can also make leaf mold using large plastic bags. Fill large bags half full with leaves, add two cups of coffee grounds, or a ¼ cup urea fertilizer.  Wet leaves thoroughly.  Tie the top,  poke holes in the sides for lots of air flow.  Stack bags in warm location, shake occasionally to mix. You could have leaf mold as soon as 2 months.

After leaves have decomposed, incorporate your leaf mold directly into the garden soil, and/or mulch around your plants. You can also mix it with potting soil to use in container gardens.

Note: Do not use these Walnut, Eucalyptus, or Camphor Laurel leaves for leaf mold. They contain growth-inhibitors, and are toxic to other plants.

Oak leaves take longer to break down, so it’s best to shred them.

Composting guide:  http://compostguide.com/using-leaves-for-composting/

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Leaf Mold : http://making-mulch-from-leaves

Article by : Carlotta Lucas

November 11th: Garden Chores

  • Garlic:  Weather permitting, you still have a week, or two, to plant garlic.
  • Mulch around berry plants.
  • Drain watering systems.
  • Disconnect hoses from hose bibs to prevent hose bib ends from freezing.
  • Insulate outside faucets, if they are not frost-proof hose bibs.
  • Drain and store portable sprinklers, hose-end timers and hose-end sprayers.
  • Rake and destroy fruit tree leaves and fallen fruit to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Spray dormant oil on fruit tress to control overwintering insects and fungus.
  • Spray lime-sulfur of grapes, anytime from now to February.
  •  It’s a good time to plant new trees, fruit trees and blueberries.
  • Prune raspberries to 1 foot above wire, attach canes to wires.
  • Harvest fall crops.
  • Clean tools.

Gardening Tips: Soil Conservation

This is the time of year when those giant paper bags full of fallen leaves start appearing on sidewalks around the country. This is also the time of year I drive around my neighborhood picking up those bags of leaves in my truck and spreading them throughout my garden beds.

The practice of removing our yard waste to landfills is enormously unsustainable:

  • We spend endless hours raking, blowing, and bagging the leaves that fall every year.
  • The use of leaf blowers is a source of noise pollution and air pollution, and uses large amounts of non-renewable fossil fuel.
  • These huge piles are hauled away by truck, using more gasoline and causing more air pollution.
  • Often this organic yard material is dumped into landfills, which destroys wildlife habitat.
  • Then we have mulch trucked in to replace the benefits of the leaves we just hauled away.
  • And we replace the nutrients that were freely available from the decomposition of those leaves with synthetic fertilizers, which are another petroleum product.

This cycle cannot be sustained without causing increasing damage to our environment. It is much more sustainable to manage this yard waste on our own properties.

Fortunately, this is very easy to do and also returns nutrients to the soil, provides habitat for many organisms, and ensures healthy plants.

I pile up these leaves in every one of my flower beds, sometimes it is more than two feet deep. In the spring I take a hand rake and loosen the leaves around my emerging plants, which hide the leaves during the growing season. By the time the next leaves fall, the old leaves have completely decomposed and the soil is ready for a new blanket.

Why do I do this?

  • There is a cycle of life contained in the leaf litter and we destroy many forms of wildlife every time we remove these leaves.
  • Many butterflies find shelter in the leaf litter, either in egg, pupal, or adult form, to safely wait out the winter and emerge in the spring.
  • Leaf litter provides food and shelter to an amazing variety of invertebrates who break down the leaves, which feeds the soil and other wildlife.
  • Healthy plants are dependent on healthy soil.
  • The deeper the leaf litter, the more spiders are supported. Spiders are an essential element in keeping pest insects in balance.
  • Leaf litter is also home to ladybugs, salamanders, toads, and other predators of pest insects. It is no wonder that pests like aphids thrive when we continue to destroy the habitat of the predators that would keep them under control.
  • Every spring these leaves are covered with birds who pick through the leaves in search of a tasty meal.
  • Trucked in mulch is not necessary when the leaves are left to cover the soil because the leaf litter acts as a natural blanket of mulch, controlling soil moisture and temperature.

I know there are many gardeners who cannot bear the thought of even one leaf creating a “mess” in their pristine garden beds. But it’s easy to tuck the leaves under your shrubs or in a back corner where they can work their magic and leave your sense of tidyness intact.

Or the leaves can be composted and then spread over your soil so at least the natural nutrients can be returned to the soil.

The benefits to your local wildlife far outweigh any need for neatness.