Western Mountains and High Plains

November, 2010
Regional Report

Recycle leaves

Collect fallen leaves for compost making. Bigger leaves are best shredded in a chipper or with a lawn mower, then spread in layers like a club sandwich. My favorite leaves are oak. Combine leaves with manure and sphagnum peat moss and mix the layers every few weeks. Be sure to keep the compost pile moist for good decomposition. Remember, little compost piles won't decompose readily, nor will dry compost piles.

Stockpile some garden soil

Stockpile a source of loose garden soil for hilling up around roses. To hold the soil in around bushes, make collars with metal or plastic grass edging, even some heavy duty cardboard. Avoid using bark chips or leaves to fill in the collars; these materials attract mice or voles that will chew through rose canes. Soil is the best insulator for the tender grafted portion of the rose bush.

Make homemade mulch

When cutting back perennials for winter, cut the tough woody stems into ten inch lengths and set aside for later mulching. Your goal is to make a good mulch that holds in snow, shades the soil, yet allow air circulation. Once the soil stays consistently cold, apply this homemade mulch around perennials to keep the soil cold. When temperatures warm to the 60s in winter, yet night temperatures drop to 10 degrees, mulch helps prevent severe temperature fluctuations that can lead to plants being heaved out of the ground.

Reduce watering frequency

Prevent an invasion of fungus gnats around your indoor plants by cutting back on watering. These tiny, black flies seem to build up in wet potting mixtures and underneath plant debris. With shorter days, most houseplants don't require as frequent watering.

Clean rain gutters

Remove leaves and pine needles from your rain gutters and downspouts to reduce ice damage to ornamental shrubs and perennial flowers beneath. Cleaning will also prevent ice dams from building up that can back up water underneath roofing materials.

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