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Green Thumb Tips

Echterís Plant Doctors are available during store hours seven days a week to answer
your gardening questions. For accurate diagnosis, it helps to bring in a sample.
 
Flower Gardens
Pansies planted this month will stay in bloom until the ground freezes. Mulch them for winter protection and these hardy pansies will be back in flower when the warm days of spring return. They are great companions for spring bulbs.
 
Mums are frost hardy and are a great value for the spectacular show of color they provide.
 
After the foliage freezes on your gladioli, cannas, dahlias, begonias and other tender summer-blooming bulbs dig them up, brush the dirt off, let them dry for a few days, then store them in vermiculite or peat moss and keep the medium moist throughout the winter.
 
Planting large pots of garden mums, asters, or flowering kale as you remove annuals from beds and borders gives you a spectacular show of color immediately.
Make notes on the past growing season's gardening successes or disappointments while the details are still fresh in your mind. If you had problems, come in and we will try to help you turn them into successes.

Bulbs
October is the best month to plant your spring-flowering bulbs. Donít forget the bulb food, super phosphate or bone meal when you plant the bulbs. Make sure you water them in thoroughly.
When planting bulbs the pointed end of the bulb is positioned upward. Plant small, early-flowering bulbs where they can be seen from indoors, since they bloom when it is usually too cold to enjoy them outside.
 
Plant small, early flowering bulbs where they can be seen from indoors, since they bloom when it is usually too cold to enjoy them outside.

Perennials & Roses
Plant perennials at the same time you plant bulbs. Youíll be able to place perennial plants between your
bulb groupings for color from spring to fall.

As the soil cools, mulch the perimeter of perennials, especially those that have been recently planted.
 
Water roses less frequently and stop fertilizing to prepare them for winter dormancy. Donít forget to water monthly during the winter if there is no natural snow or rain.
 
Remove any foliage with fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and rust. Discard in the trash. Cleaning
up now will help prevent a recurrence of the problem next year.
 
Cut back perennials leaving a 6 inch stub above the ground. Leave those with attractive seed heads for winter interest, such as coneflower and yarrow.
 

Lawns
Green Thumb Winterizer should be applied in mid October. Your lawn will be nice and green in the spring.
Continue to water as long as the temperatures remain above freezing. Give your lawn a good watering before you drain your sprinkler systems. Drain the system before the temperatures drop into the low twenties, to avoid freeze damage to the lines and sprinkler heads. Insulate and protect the vacuum
breaker that is above ground before the first freezing weather.


Trees
In October, deep water trees and shrubs every three weeks thoroughly. Do not fertilize trees now.
 
If you see browning needles in your pines and spruces, do not panic. It is a normal phenomenon. In the fall these plants lose their oldest needles and keep three or four years of their newest growth.
 
Rake up all aspen leaves to reduce the chance of revival of any leaf-related disease you may have experienced. Dispose of these leaves and do not add them to your compost pile or incorporate them into your vegetable garden.


Vegetable Gardens
Prepare your vegetable garden soil this fall following your harvest because amending soil in the spring can
be delayed if wet conditions prevail. Add Premier sphagnum peat moss, manure and Nature's Yield Compost now. It will age and decompose over the winter and provide for earlier and easier planting next spring.

Rototill shredded leaves, garden debris, grass clippings and kitchen scraps, (excluding meat products) into your garden this fall. They will compost over the winter and greatly improve your garden soil next spring. Be sure the organic matter is insect and disease free.
 
Cut dead stalks of asparagus and trim raspberry canes which have borne fruit this year. Look for the leftover plugs at the top of the canes to tell which ones fruited this year.
 
Divide rhubarb and transplant overcrowded roots after the first killing frost for improved production next year.
 

Indoor Plants
Holiday cactus need special care to get beautiful flowers this December. Buds will form for the holidays if you keep artificial light off them at night starting in mid October.
 
Your houseplants will benefit from a good leaching. Take them to your kitchen sink or bathtub and water twice or three times to remove built up soluble salts remaining from fertilizer or minerals from the water. If left, these salts can build up and burn the roots and browning the tips and margins of the leaves.
Amaryllis is the most majestic of all the holiday plants. To have blooms at Christmas, plant Dutch amaryllis bulbs 7-10 weeks earlier. (African amaryllis will bloom in as little as 4 weeks.) Choose a pot about 2" wider than the bulb and one that is heavy enough to keep from tipping. Fill the pot part way with potting mix. Set the bulb so that the top 1/3 of the bulb will be above the top of the soil when you fill the pot to 1" below the top edge of the pot. Give the plant about 4 hours of bright light a day. Plant every 2 weeks for a spectacular color show all winter.

Feathered Friends
Feeding the birds outside during the winter is great fun for young and old alike. You do need to have the right foods for the birds you are trying to attract. Start early while there are plenty of birds around. Keep the feeding stations clean and full.
 
Clean out bird houses and bird feeders to prevent the spread of diseases for next yearís families.

Water Features
   
Get your pond ready for winter. Remove debris and clean the pond surface and filters. Remove old foliage and place plants into deeper water. Pond netting will keep fallen leaves and unwanted predators out of
your pond. Set up a deicer or aerator in your pond to ensure one area remains unfrozen and gasses can exchange for fish.
   
Empty fountains and remove pumps before freezing weather arrives. Cover fountains with fountain covers
or bring them into the garage. Birdbaths must be coated with Thompsonís Water Sealant before winter if they are left outdoors. Use a birdbath heater to prevent the water from freezing.
 
October is the time to clean the organic matter from the bottom of your pond. Remember the yucky sludge from your pond makes an excellent addition to your compost pile.

Misc.
Be sure to rake your leaves in the fall, disposing of any diseased or insect-ridden leaves. Rake healthy leaves into a pile, chop them up with your lawn mower, and add the resulting mulch into your compost
pile or rototill it into your garden.
 
Stay warm while outside with a chimenea or fire pit. These outdoor ďfireplacesĒ will keep you cozy warm while preparing your meal and entertaining outside.
Stop spiders, crickets, millipedes, earwigs and other bothersome bugs from coming into the house for the winter by spraying Green Thumb Home Pest Control around the foundation of your house and especially window wells.
 

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