Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Chores

Nursery in Lake Como, Italy
I went to Italy last month and as usual I am always interested in seeing what the local horticultural industry is up to. We were in the Naples area and on the train between Naples and Sorrento I noticed numerous greenhouses and hoop houses (like Houses 5-21 at Countryside). Even speeding by at however fast the train was going I saw long stem roses and carnations. It was hard to resist the urge to get off the train to try and find the growing operations. Another crop I noticed growing was chrysanthemums. Our chrysanthemum season is about over but theirs was barely started! I did a little research when I got home and learned the Italy is the third largest producer of cut flowers. They also purchase 5% of all cut flowers. I did stop at a little nursery in Lake Como up by the train station and took a few pictures. I tried in my terrible Italian to explain to the woman working there that I also worked at a garden center but I don’t think I was successful.  
Always on the job!
Well, when I left it was the last of summer but I came back to fall and fall chores. If you are still mowing be sure to lower the mower deck a little bit each time you mow. Leaving the grass too long over the winter encourages disease as the grass flops over and doesn’t get good air circulation. It’s not too late for a last feeding of winterizer for the lawn. You could even wait until later this month to do it. 
If you are really in the mood for tidying up in the garden, you could cut back the perennials but don’t cut them all the way to the ground. I always like to leave the stems until spring. This gives the snow cover something to stick to and provides insulation through the winter and protects the plant against crown rot.

Rose Collars
Rose Cone
For you rosarians, we recommend using rose collars rather than rose cones. You can put the rose collars on now. They go around the base of the plant and then you fill the collar with top soil. Contrary to popular belief, this does not keep the plant from freezing. What it does is once the ground has frozen it keeps it frozen so that the plant does not undergo a freeze/thaw cycle. Sometimes in January or February we have a bit of a warm up and this can fool the plants into coming out of dormancy. Then we get a hard freeze that shocks the plants and can kill them. If you use rose cones, wait until the rose is fully dormant before pruning it back to fit the rose cone over it. Sometimes this isn’t until after Christmas. If we do get a warm up, remove the rose cone or remove the lid if it has one, so moisture doesn’t build up inside the cone.

And one last thing... Friday, November 11th is the Countryside Wine Tasting. This is a great event, not to be missed. The Countryside staff will all be there to kick off the holiday season with you.  Here's a link to the website with information about all the upcoming holiday events.

No comments: