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Preparing For Winter
November 16, 2015

November offers some great photo opportunities.

The milkweed pods showing off the silk and seeds was worth me taking a few pictures of.

Below is a picture of a well fed skunk sporting a new winter coat.

The first half of last week was wonderful.

Thursday and Friday brought rains and high winds.

Rain and wind I didn't need.

The leaky soffit in the front of the house proved to be more than the handiman could handle.

It seems the rotting wood from shoddy roof job 10 years ago is the main culprit.

Now we are trying to deal with and get this situation resolved in a friendly matter.

Yes, our stress level went up a couple of notches.

Still, God is still on the throne and in control.

Checkout the Chipmunk harvesting the Indian corn from Karen's decorations and the cats eagerly watching the show.

Chippy is on top of the pumpkin.

Yolanda had a good week, and her follow up doctor visit was on the plus side.

Snickers is all puppy.

Even if wrapped in a very small package.

How fast we fall in love with our firkids.

Akita (Keet) is getting better with Snicker Doodles, they almost played together.

Ziggy the Toy Poodle still will have nothing to do with puppy girl.

Indeed, he has nipped and made her cry more than once.

Puppies are good for stress levels and help reduce blood pressure.

Other than a couple of last minute jobs, outdoor chores and putting the gardens to sleep are pretty much finished.

How are things going for you and your chores?

Feel free to write back and let me know how things are going.

I make every effort to respond back.

We all have fall chores.

Yes, even you.

Even if you live in south Florida, or the Pacific coast, you have winter chores.

It may be as simple as freshening up the beds with new annuals, or a good feeding, you have tasks at hand.

For most of you, it does entail more.

Pulling, digging, and preparing for next spring.

Cutting back, and even transplanting, still.

Shredding leaves, saving bags and piles for insulation and compost.

What about wrapping up and winterizing young trees and shrubs?

(Leaf Bag on Black and Blue Salvia.)

Last week I mentioned about using all of those fallen leaves.

Here are a couple of ways I use fallen leaves.

Shredded or not, large bags of packed in leaves are great insulators.

For years, I have used bags of leaves to to help winter over some tender perennials.

I live in Zone 5 (the past two winters qualify for Z4 I do believe).

With leaf or large trash bags filled with leave, I can trim back some Zone 7 plants like 'Black and Blue Salvia'

I then place on the cut back plant crowns, a large bag packed with shredded, or unshredded leaves.

I have done this for several years now and Z7 plants survive for me.

Some years I have over wintered Z8 plants as well.

(Bales of straws will have the same insulating effect.)

I'm not saying you will have great success in Z3 or Z4, but what do you have to lose?

I would like to find out if Z11 plants survive Z8 or Z9 with proper insulation.

Pack shredded leaves around new transplants and around hardy mums as well.

A good insulation help the ground from freeze and thaw cycles that often kill off your plants.

Wraps, Burlap, and Fencing:

(Vinyl Tree Wrap around small shrub.)

Many gardeners often forget to protect young trees and shrubs from the elements.

By elements, I mean weather and furry creatures.

Vinyl tree wraps: These vinyl spiral tubes wrap around young trees and shrubs to keep animals from chewing and bark peeling.

They also are vital in preventing sunscald, or southwest disease.

Sunscald is caused from repeated freeze and thaws.

This happens in freezing temperatures when the sun heats up the tree trunk enough for sap to flow.

As the sun sets, the liquid sap freezes again.

We all know that water/sap expands when it freezes.

This expansion will cause the young and thin bark to split up and down the trunk.

Most often on the southwest side where the sun is at peak warmth.

At best, you will have an unsightly crack running up your tree.

At worse, your young or ornamental tree (think Japanese Maple) will die.

Burlap wraps can also prevent rabbits and deer from chewing your evergreens or other prized possessions.

It won't stop voles/mice from chewing away, however.

Burlap is often used to keep the harsh winter winds from blowing directly on your plants and drying them out completely.

I use chicken wire around many of my shrub grouping to keep rabbits and deer at bay.

To keep mice/voles from munching the bark of your plants, you will want to use hardware cloth.

Hardware cloth is the wire mesh, often found in 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch squares. A side note:

If the bark is chewed through, and the cambium is chewed around, shrubs will come back from the crown.

Trees however, are dead when the cambium layer is destroyed.

If you haven't already, your vegetable gardens should have been turned over or at least loosened.

Dirt clods will dissolve from the elements and your garden will be ready to go. This is also the best time to integrate manure (if you use it) into your gardens.

Fresh or composted, manure has the opportunity to break down and slow release the goodness into the soil.

Worms and microbes are at work if the temperatures aren't freezing

The burning effect of too rich a matter is broken and distributed from winter snow and rain.

When planting time arrives next spring, your garden soil is primed and ready to go.

No digging.

No working in compost.

Simply to what you enjoy.

Plant and watch things grow.

Well, it's time to go for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We need action for anything in our lives to bear fruit.

Here is what the bible has to say.

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them,
Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Jame 2: 14-17

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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