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Editorial

Lawn and Garden


Handling Early Frosts



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11/01/2011 - Most years the first frosts of the fall would have ended the gardening season by mid-September. But this year an uncommonly hot end to summer has lasted into this month, I have still had to run the air conditioner pretty often. The added length of the season will hopefully help you enjoy your flowers a little longer and gain a little more size on your garden crops.

Be sure that you continue to water all your crops thoroughly right up until the frosts take off their leaves. Cutting back on your watering too early will cause your flower and vegetable crops to produce less.

On trees and shrubs cutting back on the amount of water you are giving them too early in the fall can cause them to go dormant early, making the winter that much longer for them. They store up all the energy can in the summer so that they can use it through the winter. When it runs out, if the winter is not over yet, they die.

It reminds me of a person having to swim through a tunnel full of water. If that person keeps their head above water until just when they enter the tunnel, they can hold their breath long enough to make it through. If a person goes underwater before they reach the tunnel, they may not have enough air to make it through.

Last season I was able to see how much longer trees will stay actively growing in a mild fall when they are watered on a regular basis. Last year the frosts came early, but they were not severe and were intermittent. One of my customers has some trees on an automated drip system. The system is about one foot underground, so it is protected from light to medium frosts. We ran the system almost into November last year. When I finally shut it down I was suprized at how lush the trees still were that late in the season. While all the trees in the area that were not on the system had already turned and lost their leaves, the ones on the system were still actively growing.

In many warmer parts of the world deciduous trees lose their leaves due to lack of water alone. Keeping the leaves on your plants as long as possible makes the winter that much shorter for them. Once the frosts do take the leaves off the plants be sure to check the garden for any forgotten veggies. Most vegetables can take a pretty hard frost without being ruined, and once the leaves have wilted any that were hidden can be seen easier.

In addition, giving your trees and shrubs a good balanced fertilizer at this time will give them a good reserve of nutrients coming into next season. I hope you have a great fall, and that your season has been a good one.

On a side note, for anyone who is wondering, we were able to get our second cutting of hay put up and I didn't fall asleep at the wheel once.

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