Pacific Northwest

November, 2005
Regional Report

Dig Dahlia Tubers

Dahlias should be finished blooming by now. Cut remaining flowers from plants, and then wait for frost to kill the foliage. Cut dead foliage down to the soil line, dig the tubers, and store them for the winter in a cool, dry area in bags of slightly moist peat moss. Tubers can be separated now or left in clusters. I divide mine in spring, after new buds begin to swell.

Keep Off the Grass

Avoid soil compaction and associated drainage problems by keeping foot traffic to a minimum over dormant lawns. A final mowing may be required if weather remains mild. Mow two days after the last rainfall. Use stakes and flagging to direct visitors to walkways and off any newly planted lawn.

Rototill Fallow Beds

Spring soil preparation will be easier if you rototill beds in the fall. Add organic matter, such as leaves and manure, too. Winter rains will help break up soil clods and break down organic matter. When soil warms in spring, you can lightly till the beds and rake them smooth prior to planting.

Clean Garden Tools

Wooden handles on tools require special care to keep them in shape. Sand the handles, if necessary, then apply a coat of brightly colored, water-resistant paint to keep the wood from drying out and prevent shrinking or splitting. Brightly colored handles are easier to see if tools are accidentally left out in the garden.

Cut Back Mums

Cut stems back to ground level after your chrysanthemums have stopped blooming. Dispose of stems and leaves by tossing them into the compost pile. In cold areas, you might even protect the plants with a layer of straw mulch. When new shoots appear in the spring, dig the root mass and divide the plant, taking some roots with each new shoot.

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