Wrapping up chores to prepare for the holidays
By Bob Hearle
By now everyone feels the arrival of fall which brings the near end to outdoor chores and the arrival of the holiday spirit. The next few columns will focus on the holidays and all that they entail.
By now you should be well along in collecting cuttings for rooting over winter and you should be finishing your fall pruning chores. Remember to check your cuttings periodically for appearance of roots and keep them moist with a spray of fine mist. Put the rooted cuttings in seed starter mix and place in good light, either natural or from a plant light. Cuttings such as impatiens should give you flowers before winter is over.
Now is the time to purchase paper whites and similar bulbs to store in your refrigerator for a month and then place in decorative planters for blooming around the Christmas holiday. Your holiday cactus should be budding now brought on by reduced hours of sunlight and night time temperatures below 65 degrees F.
Let’s discuss end of season maintenance that needs to be accomplished in order to start spring off on the right foot. Starting with your mower, after your last cut, you need to flush all the debris from underneath with a strong hose spray. Drain the gasoline or put a gas stabilizer in the tank. You can get this at an auto supply store. Make sure you mention it is for a lawnmower.
Remove and sharpen the blade. Place it in the garage or shed and wish it a good sleep.
Next take all your pruners and remove any rust and then spray with a light coat of WD-40 and place on a sheet of newspaper to catch any drippings. Drain your wheelbarrow of any debris or moisture and spray with WD-40. Place against the wall of your garage or shed and allow for air to circulate.
Finish moving your plants indoors and be sure you spray them with insecticidal soap to avoid bringing unwanted critters into your home. Give adequate light and check for water. Usually when you put your finger into the soil and it is dry, it’s time to water. Spray occasionally to keep the humidity higher than the rest of your home.
To begin our discussion of holiday gifts, let me suggest a few items that take time to order or locate. First would be a magazine subscription for a general garden audience. Fine Gardening or Carolina Gardening are two suggestions.
Another category would be garden tools. Smith & Hawkin have a marvelous selection in their catalogue.
If you want to give a great gift that will cost you nothing, give and IOU. This could be for garden work or watering or weeding or whatever your recipient needs assistance doing. Just make sure to redeem it later.
If you plan to purchase a live Christmas tree, you need to dig your planting hole now. Cover with straw and it will be ready when you bring your tree outdoors to be planted.
The best cut tree would be a Frasier fir. When you get it home be sure to cut off several inches of trunk to allow for better water uptake. Also be sure to add tree preservative. Finally keep it away from heating register drafts.
Bob Hearle is a certified master gardener who lives and gardens at Pawleys Island.