Wow, what happen to our gardening season? One day I’m planting perennials, the next we’re cleaning up a large tree and the day after that, it was plowing snow.
Thank heavens for our son-in-law and his friend who came with a large chain saw made quick work of a tree blown down in the storm but not quick enough to allow for the last raking before the snow buried everything. The tree missed everything but the bird feeder and left a nice snag for the wildlife.
I’m sure I’m not alone in all this. Here are some things you can still do outdoors if we don’t get a thaw to finish the fall chores.
If you have plants and bulbs that haven’t been planted yet, keep them in a protected spot out of the wind. If you have garden beds that you can dig in, dig a long hole big enough to set the plants in, pots and all, and cover them with soil and then 3 to 4 inches of mulch. The mulch can be anything you have handy, including spent vegetable plants you didn’t get picked up before the snow. If you don’t have such a space, set them in a garage and water them with ice cubes once a month or so over the winter. The ice will melt when its warm enough and water the plants. They will look terrible, but they will survive.
For bulbs, if you can break through the frozen crust, go ahead and plant them. If you can’t, it’s safe to hold off to see if we get a thaw in early December. If we don’t, get some 6- to 10-inch pots and pot them up in potting soil. The bulbs can be packed into the pot nearly touching each other. Water them and then set them in a garage or next to your healed-in perennials mentioned above. Once they start sprouting in the spring, put them out where you can enjoy them. If you leave the foliage on them after they finish in the spring, you might be able to replant them where you originally intended to.
The cold temperatures last week probably froze the leaves on the trees, which means they will hang there for the remained of the winter. The foliage will catch snow and add extra weight to the branch and increase the potential for breakage. To minimize this, you will need to get out after storms and gently knock snow off the branches to take the weight off. My favorite tool for this is a long, lightweight bamboo pole wrapped with duct tape. The duct tape helps keep the bamboo from splitting. Be sure to wear a hooded jacket or you will have snow down your neck. Tap the branches gently starting at the tip to ease the stress off it slowly. If branches do break, remove them near the break where possible and finish the restoration pruning when the weather is better.