Northern & Central Midwest

September, 2006
Regional Report

Keep Composting

Don't assume that with cold weather imminent we should stop composting. This is still a great time to keep the compost pile active by adding layers of green materials (grass clippings and frost-killed annuals and perennials), brown dried materials (leaves, shredded twigs, and ornamental grass stalks), and small amounts of soil and water.

Plant Deciduous Trees and Shrubs

As soon as deciduous trees and shrubs begin to color or drop their leaves, they can be planted or transplanted. After planting, water well and mulch with 2 to 4 inches of shredded bark. Wait a year before fertilizing. Make sure to provide plenty of water through the fall.

Clean and Sterilize Containers

At the end of the season, it may seem simpler to stack pots and deal with them in the spring, but you will be much happier next spring if you clean and sterilize them before storing them for winter. Use a coarse brush or toothbrush to clean pots, and dip in a 10 percent bleach solution before drying and storing.

Lift Tender Bulbs

As soon as foliage is killed by frost, lift and store tender bulbs. Cut back foliage and stems. Gently dig tubers using a garden fork. Shake off excess soil and dry the tubers in an airy, warm spot. When dry, label and store in cardboard boxes lined with newspaper and filled slightly moist peat moss.

Protect Your Pond

Protect small ponds from freezing by covering with thin plywood sheets and layers of mulch or shredded leaves, or install a pond heater. Remove tropical water plants, cut off all foliage and flowers, and store tubers in an indoor aquarium where the water remains 55 degrees or in moist sand in a bucket in the basement.

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