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Gardening with Laurie: Prepare for winter

By By Laurie Garretson
Nov. 15, 2012 at 5:15 a.m.

Laurie Garreston

This week's article is a reminder of several things to take care of in the landscape. Let's get started.

First off, let's think about the cold nights that are ahead of us. Sooner or later, we are more than likely going to have a night or two of really cold temperatures.

For most of us gardeners, that means we will have the chore of protecting our tender plants. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've had to tell that last-minute shopper that I have sold out of frost fabric. Frost fabric, which usually goes by the name of N-Sulate, is a lightweight material that will help to protect plants from cold temperatures, wind burn and keeps pests off.

N-Sulate does let sun rays and water penetrate it. Since it is so permeable, you don't have to worry about plants getting too hot if the fabric is left on. You could leave the fabric on all season if you wanted to. Stock up on N-Sulate now so you'll have it when it comes time to protect tender vegetation this winter.

Let me once again explain to you the benefits of using liquid seaweed on a regular basis on all your plants. Not only is seaweed a great growth stimulant that's good for all plants and most other living things; seaweed will also toughen the foliage on plants.

Tougher foliage means less trouble from all kinds of sucking insects. Pests would rather go find tender foliage than bother with your tougher foliage. That's a very good thing. Tougher foliage can also provide plants with some cold protection from low temperatures. So, use liquid seaweed on a weekly basis to make plants healthier and tougher.

If you have not fed your lawn in the past two to three months, do so now. Natural fertilizers can be applied at anytime of the year, and this end-of-the-year feeding is the most important application. Feeding now is going to help make the root system strong and healthy. Come next spring, you'll see a better looking lawn.

For those of you that want to really give your lawn a boost, spread a thin layer of compost over the lawn in addition to the fertilizer.

Mulching flowerbeds and gardens is always a good thing to do. This time of year, having a few inches of mulch on all beds and gardens will help to keep root systems warm. Mulch will also help to retard weed growth and help keep moisture in the soil.

All types of worm problems have been reported from many of you. Keep close watch on your vegetable gardens for signs of trouble. All it takes is one or two hungry worms to wipe out a garden over night.

Not only are vegetable gardens at risk, fall annuals, shrubs, but also your lawn and foliage on trees can also be bothered. At the first sign of worm problems, get out the Spinosad or any product containing bacillus thuringiensis and safely put a stop to any further damage.

Now is the time to sow rye grass seed if you want to have a lush, green lawn this winter. Rye grass can help prevent weeds from growing in bare spots in the lawn. There are short varieties of rye grass that won't need to be mowed as often as some of the taller varieties. As the temperatures warm up again next spring, the rye grass will die off as the warm season grasses (St. Augustines and Bermuda) begin to grow.

Now is the best time of the year to plant shrubs and trees. Planting now will give the root systems time to get better established before the hot weather comes. Planting now versus next spring lets plants grow a root system that will be better able to absorb water come next summer.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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