AD Main Menu

Lowenfels: Film shows 'leaping,' 'walking spores' of pesky weed

Jeff Lowenfels

I think there are three or four of us here in Southcentral who don't mind equisetum, like it in fact, but not many more. Literally a prehistoric throwback (every mention of "horsetail" or "Boy Scout scouring brush" has to include that these plants used to be 40-foot-tall trees back in the day of the dinos), it is virtually impossible to get rid of. We try, but all we are really doing is getting the top growth.

I know we are facing the onslaught of colder weather and you have a lot of gardening things on your mind other than equisetum, which is after all, a spring and mid-summer plant. In fact, normally I would save this kind of thing for a winter column, for a time when there was nothing else going on in the yard or on the windowsill, but an article that came across my computer screen the other day is one I just have to share now. The headline shouted "Horsetail plant spores use 'legs' to walk and jump."

Really? Really! And what is more, you can see them strutting their stuff yourself at bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24025365. I urge you to take a look. This is science at its best. Something you and I can see and use. Now you will understand why it is so difficult -- no, impossible -- to rid the yard of these amazing plants. Amazing video. Just amazing.

OK. Back to reality. Yes, I know winter approaches and that there is always stuff to do, with fewer minutes of after-work daylight to get them done. Just keep at it. Soon you will be inside all day long and regretting it.

Let's start with the garden hoses. I don't think you are going to need yours again this season. With all the rain we have had of late, trees, shrubs, perennials and the lawns will be just fine for the rest of the season without any help from us. This means you can now disconnect your hoses and store them. Make sure to drain them first.

Then remove all "things" connected to outdoor faucets. Not only can some of these freeze and break due to the expansion of freezing water, but they can cause the pipes to which they are connected to freeze and break. Remember, if yours is an old-fashioned system, you may have to turn off the water to outdoor spigots from someplace inside.

Obviously, outdoor water features need to be winterized as well. Don't put it off too long. Draining things now is easier than when it is almost freezing or in the slushy aftermath of that first surprise winter storm.

I keep harping, but with good reason, that on the next sunny day you need to get that Plantskydd down to control moose browsing. I keep saying it because it is true; the colder it gets, the more unpleasant it is to apply. Fortunately, get the right period of no rain and you won't have to do it again until spring. Some folks simply paint it on tree limbs and trunks instead of spraying it.

As noted in last week's calendar, bulbs can be planted up until the ground freezes. No, you don't need water in the holes. In fact, nothing should go back into the hole other than the bulb and the soil to hold it there. There are plenty of spring flowering bulbs to be had in Southcentral and you should definitely be planting them for spring enjoyment. Mulch with straw or grass clippings. Tulips and daffodils rule. The smaller bulbs like galanthus do well. Crocuses are iffy and hyacinths are better for forcing indoors.

Once you harvest, or if you are just finished with gardening for the season, mulch your vegetable and flower beds. The vegetable beds do best with straw (no seeds as in hay) or grass clippings (well mulched up). So do annual flower beds. This is one excuse for collecting clippings. Trees, shrubs and perennials need brown mulches as in the leaves that are about to really start dropping.

If you have the energy, clip back the spent raspberry canes, i.e., the ones that bore fruit this year. You should also cut back the hollow parts of perennials, such as delphinium stems, so they don't fill with water and rot the crowns to which they are attached.

And finally, it is time to set up lights for winter growing if you don't have a permanent location. You can spend nine months gardening indoors. That time is almost here. Get ready.

Jeff Lowenfels is co-author of "Teaming With Microbes" and author of "Teaming With Nutrients," available at tinyurl.com/TeamingWithMicrobes and tinyurl.com/TeamingWithNutrients.

Garden calendar

AMARYLLIS: PUT YOURS IN A DARK SPOT ABOUT 40 DEGREES FOR THE NEXT TWO MONTHS.

GARLIC PLANTING WORKSHOP: 1 TO 3 P.M. SAURDAY. LEAD BY JULIANNE MCGUINNES. TASTE TEST AND PLANTING LESSONS USING "MUSIC," A WHITE SKINNED GARLIC THAT GETS HIGH PRAISE. $20 AND PRE-REGISTRATION AT EVENTBRITE.COM/EVENT/8018155519/EORG

POTATOES: GO HARVEST THEM. CARROTS TOO. BRUSSELS SPROUTS NEED A HARD FROST.

 


Jeff Lowenfels
Gardening