End of the Season Chores
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Winter is traditionally a slow time as far as gardening is concerned. The hectic pace of taking care of the vegetable garden and being on the look out for pests has virtually come to an end for the season. However, as I look around my landscape, I can see numerous chores that need to be taken care of.
One duty that many homeowners do not think of is watering outdoor plants. Evergreens like Leyland cypress, arborvitae, and any other plants that retain their leaves during the winter, will still need water during cold weather. The recent dry weather can lead to desiccation injury on evergreens if the plants are not watered at this time. Mulching will also help plants survive extended dry periods.
My fruit trees have all lost their leaves and are waiting to be pruned. Fruit trees, in particular, usually need to be pruned every year to thin out the canopy and remove dead and diseased branches. The commercial fruit growers will normally begin pruning apple trees first and leave their peach trees for later in the winter. I wait to prune until right before my peach and Asian pear trees bud out in the spring.
Adding fresh manure to the vegetable garden is not recommended during the growing season, so now is the time to apply. A rule of thumb is to add fresh animal manure no later than 120 days prior to expected harvest. If you are planning on planting a spring garden, the time for adding manure is about to run out.
Fertilizer applications are not recommended at this time. Many of the nutrients, like nitrogen, will leach out of the soil and will not be available to the plant when it needs it in the spring. Wait to apply fertilizers just before the plants start to grow in the spring of the year.
The fun part of the season is ordering those seeds and fruit trees for next year. When ordering vegetable seeds, consider choosing varieties that have some disease resistance. The same goes for fruit trees with an emphasis of choosing apple trees that are resistant to disease like fire blight.