Gardener's Grapevine 2011.11.02

Written by David Green.

Halloween is over and the next thing coming at us is the holiday season. Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season. It’s such a fun time of year with all the preparations and goodwill.

Soon we will be going into our cold snaps. This past week we had our first killing frost and the darn stuff got my basil plants before I could get that final harvest! Oh well, we have a lot of pesto in the freezer…but it’s so yummy, the more the merrier.

Now, since we’ve had a killing frost is the time to really clean up. I also clear out the old raspberry canes so they have room for the new shoots in the spring. My dad cleaned up all the leaves in the yard and an hour later the wind made it snow leaves again. If we let them go they move on down the street, but that doesn’t make us very good neighbors, so we clean them up. Something to think about is putting up Christmas lights. While we still have some warm days its a good time to get them in place, so when it’s closer to Christmas you can turn them on and not freeze.

David Green e-mailed me an interesting article from Michigan State University that talked about powdery mildew. It is now becoming a problem with impatiens. Powdery mildew is not new to gardeners, it has been causing problems for years with other plants. It loves to overtake the tall phlox and can cause quite a mess. It makes the plants look awful, like someone dumped baby powder all over the plant.  

You should pull your impatiens and turn them over. If you see something like baby powder on the underside of the leaves throw the plants in the trash. Do not put them on the compost pile as the mildew will spread and when the compost is spread in the spring you will be infecting all your plants with it.

It would be advisable to get rid of the soil they were in also, dig down a few inches and dispose of it. Once powdery mildew is on your property it is difficult to get rid of, so start as soon as you find it. I plant very few annuals and even fewer impatiens but it did surprise me to hear that the mildew now likes them also. Impatiens grow best in shade to part shade and that is normally a moist environment so it makes perfect sense.

After the first hard frost it’s time to think about pruning trees. The sap has slowed for winter and it is not as hard on the tree as when it is in full production. A good pair of loppers and a telescoping saw work great. Barrett’s Garden Center’s tree expert told me that fruit trees should be pruned in late November when we’ve had a few good hard frosts and should be pruned so the tops are flat to make for easy picking. I have five fruit trees and am grateful we do not have an orchard. It can be mighty cold out there in November.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2014