11/21/14: In the garden this week


Since we got home from vacation, I’ve been busy gathering this year’s valuable crop of fallen leaves. No leaves, no compost for next year’s vegetable garden.

The weather has been very cold, although the soil is not yet frozen. This means that plants continue to grow roots, so it’s not too late to some plant large trees, and that you should not stop watering newly installed perennials and woody plants. Root growth continues until the soil temperature goes below about 40 degrees.

Here are some tasks you might attend to this weekend:

continue to water newly installed perennials and woody plants as needed. The recommended amount is 1 inch per week during dry spells, but we received a good soaking this week (3 inches of rain according to my yogurt-container rain gauge), so hold off for now.

do not prune woody plants. Trees and shrubs are still carrying out leaf abscission, the complicated process of shutting down for winter. This process takes a lot of energy, so plants don’t have energy to spare for making scar tissue. The next pruning window will come soon, when plants reach dormancy.

– thoroughly clean up the vegetable garden. Do not compost diseased or pest-infested plants. Spread a layer of compost to prepare the soil for next year.

leave seedheads in place on perennials and native grasses and enjoy the bird activity all winter.

save your autumn leaves for compost. Store them to add to the compost pile all year. You may also decide to use your lawnmower to chop them and mulch them into your lawn as fertilizer.


Birds eat the seeds of little bluestem (Schizachrium scoparium) throughout the winter.


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