“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” –   Andrew Wyeth

“Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme!” Try herb gardening! Plant seeds or transplants of your favorite herbs and enjoy the fragrance and the added benefit of using the herbs in your favorite recipes. Mint varieties are great additions to the garden also. Use caution when planting mint because it is quite invasive and can quickly take over your beds. As an alternative, use containers to plant mint because you can more easily control its growth.

As you begin to plan your holidays, don’t forget about your landscape and indoor plants. With all of the bustling about and enjoying time and fellowship with family and friends, we forget and neglect our “green” friends that give us so much pleasure throughout the year. Mistakenly, I have done terrible things to my plants during the holidays. So, remember to continue to water. Indoor plants suffer right now because of the heat and dryness of the indoor environment. Check the moisture of the soil regularly to ensure your plants do not dehydrate.

Here are some other things you need to take care of this month:acorns

* Check that mulch layer! Mulch is the most important thing you can do in your landscape that has so many positive rewards. Several inches of organic material added to your bedding area can help retain moisture in the soil – reducing irrigation needs which helps us conserve our precious water resources. Mulch also helps keep those soil temperatures regulated so you decrease damage from cold winter temperatures. On top of that, it serves as a slow-release fertilizer and keeps weeds under control. Mulch is great!

* Continue to irrigate. Plants that are allowed to dry out are more susceptible to freeze damage.

* This is a great time to get your soil tested. By testing your soil, you are better able to determine the needs of your landscape plants. Every plant’s needs are different. By testing now, you will have plenty of time to amend the soil before spring plantings begin.

* If your yard is covered with leaves like mine, don’t be discouraged, view this as a resource. Don’t bag those leaves! Use that lawnmower to mulch the leaves. Those leaves serve as a great slow-release fertilizer that will add nutrients back to your soil – naturally. Use mulched leaves in your beds or garden area and not just your turf area.

* Now that you have mowed the leaves, it is time to put away the lawnmower. However, before you store the lawnmower, drain the gasoline from the tank. Gasoline left in the tank can collect water leading to engine damage.

* Anytime the soil is dry enough to work with is a great time to prep beds for late winter and spring gardening. Cover the bed areas with a thick mulch layer to prevent crusting and to limit soil erosion. Remember, mulch is great!

* You still have time to plant bulbs. Bulbs are a great addition to the landscape. Many range from early, middle to late bloomers and there are many different varieties you can use. Be cautious of mail-order bulbs because most are not adapted to our region and will not perform well. An example of this is tulips. Tulip bulbs are readily available, but most are better adapted to more northern climates. Actually, we treat tulips more as an annual here in our area. So, don’t expect your tulip bulbs to come back year after year.

* Now is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Fall and early winter plantings always have an advantage over spring plantings. By planting now, you give the plant time to get settled and establish a healthy root system before spring growth occurs.

* Wait a little while before pruning your woody-stemmed plants. It is best to prune when the plant is in its full dormancy.

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