These past weeks have been very busy preparing the soil and gardens for planting. Working soil that is too wet can actually cause long term damage. To know if your soil is ready for planting, squeeze a handful of soil; if it crumbles through your fingers, you’re ready to garden, otherwise give it a few days to dry.
The weather is cool enough to plant pansies, ornamental kale and cabbage, dianthus, cyclamen and snapdragons; seed vegetable cole crops such as turnips, lettuce, mustard greens and radishes.
Prepare to protect new seedlings and new transplants during freezing weather or early frosts. Seed wildflowers, such as poppies, bluebonnets, larkspur, and sweet peas.
The first frost is very near. House plants and tender potted plants need to be moved into a protected area. Don’t forget to water and feed the plants during this time. Use plant food at half regular strength during the resting period. Mulch roses, shrubs, perennials, vines, and flowers to protect them from extreme cold. Use collected leaves for mulch rather than bagging them for the landfill.
We have been hearing from meteorologists that this should be one of the coldest and wettest winters we’ve had in several years (but who knows?).
Harvest green tomatoes and peppers before a freeze. Place tomatoes on a counter or window sill and they will ripen. Fried green tomatoes and ‘chow chow’ are good Southern dishes made from green tomatoes.
After the first freeze, pull the warm season plants and place them in the compost. Cover the existing soil with a layer of compost at this time. If you haven’t fertilized the lawn for the winter, do it before December. If you have empty garden beds, a cover crop of clover, rye, or cereal rye will benefit the vegetable in early Spring.
Just a reminder: Do you have your bulbs planted? Wait until December to plant tulips and hyacinth bulbs. Wait until January or February to prune shrubs heavily.