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Garden Agenda for Winter
by by Josephine Sigurgeirson, GARDENWORKS
November 1, 1997

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Bedding Plants

    * A visit to any of our stores will give you lots of ideas for winter colour with annuals. Our selection of pansies and winter cabbages and kale will brighten up beds or containers. Later on in the season, watch for our dazzling array of primroses. There are so many colours to choose from. If you need help with your colour scheme, or would like to order a particular variety, please speak to us. We will do our best to make sure your winter garden is extra special.
    * When planting winter cabbage and kale, remove older, bottom leaves, and plant deep in the ground, as in the photograph shown. This deep soil will ensure that the developing roots stay well below the shallow freezes of early winter. This also brings the cabbage head to soil level so the stalky appearance too common in cabbages and kales is avoided.
    * Sow hardy annuals such as candytuft (Iberis spp.), clarkia (Godetia amoena), larkspur (Consolida ambigua) and annual toadflax (Linaria spp.). They'll germinate and flower earlier than the same seeds sown in spring.
    * If you have fuchsias you would like to save over the winter but haven't made any preparations yet, there may still be time. In early November, let the soil in fuchsia containers dry, then cut the plants back to 4 inches above the soil and store them in a frost-protected place such as the garage. Water lightly each month to keep them alive during their dormant period.


    * There's still plenty of time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Early-flowering tulips, daffodils and narcissi should be in the ground by November 15, but other types can be planted on dry days throughout December.
    * Make certain all your spring bulbs get off to a healthy start by planting with GARDENWORKS Bone Meal. When the new growth emerges in the spring, apply a light top-dressing of GARDENWORKS 3-15-8 Bulb Food.
    * Set out single garlic cloves this month for harvest next summer.
    * If you haven't already dug up your tender dahlias, gladiolus and other summer bulbs, do it now. Clean up the freshly dug bulbs and store them in a old bedding plant tray with dry peat moss in a frost-free, but cool place not exceeding 50oF (10oC).
    * Once a month, check stored bulbs, corms and tubers and discard those that show any signs of rot. Dahlias are the exception: cut out bad spots, dust with sulphur or Later's Bulb Dust and store separately.


    * Now is a great time to divide peony tubers, and our area, with its mild, temperatures year-round is perfect for cultivating all types of this beautiful and durable flower. Peonies prefer rich soil, so remember to amend the new planting area with fully decomposed compost or GARDENWORKS Mushroom Manure before planting.
    * The month of November is a good time to divide perennials on the west coast. Cool air and frequent rain is perfect weather for the dividing process, and if done before December's frosts, the soil will still be warm, so roots can establish before winter dormancy. Check your perennial beds for crowded plants. Any spring or summer-blooming perennial can be lifted, divided and replanted at this time of year. Don't forget to check your vegetable patch; rhubarb, asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes are perennials too.
    * Divide any fall- or winter-blooming perennials after the spring thaw (just as new growth appears) for best results.
    * After chrysanthemums finish blooming, prune them to within 6 inches (15 cm) of the ground. Some asters have nice autumn and winter colour, especially if grown in full sun, so wait until later in the season to cut them back.

Trees and Shrubs

    Cone * November is great for planting and transplanting balled and burlapped or potted trees and shrubs, including fruit trees. Pick up a copy of our planting instructions so you'll have all the information you need when you get home.
    * If you are looking for a fall- or winter-flowering shrub, now's the time to shop! We've got a fabulous selection of fall- and winter-blooming camellias (Camellia sasanqua), fragrant, winter-blooming box (Sarcococca spp.) and all kinds of winter-blooming witch hazels (Hamamelis spp.).
    * Apply a mulch of leaves or bark mulch in tree and shrub beds to minimize weed growth and protect shallow roots from freezing. This particularly important for rhododendrons and azaleas.
    * Don't forget to rake up fallen leaves. Leaves left on lawns over winter can cause soil to become overly moist and airless. Add the leaves to the compost pile or bag them in leaf bags for curbside pickup where applicable.
    * Winter is a fine time to prune evergreen conifers. Use the cut boughs for holiday wreaths and swags. Fortunately, it's also the best time to prune holly.

Fruit and Vegetables

    * In early November pull up all your remaining tomato plants and hang them upside down, roots and all, in an out-of-the-way spot indoors. They'll continue to ripen at room temperature. In order to prevent re-infection of blight and virus, throw the dried plants into the garbage once all the fruit has ripened.
    * If your apple, apricot, peach, or pear trees had canker problems this year, rake up all the fallen leaves and twigs and send them out with the trash. Then apply dormant oil spray, once in December or January, and once in March, just before the flower buds open.
    * November is the time to divide perennial vegetables, such as rhubarb, asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes. See the perennial section of the Garden Agenda for more information.

Indoor Plants

    Christmas Cactus * Holiday gift plants fall into two groups: those you treat as one-season living bouquets (poinsettias, for example) to toss out at season's end; and those you can keep for years (including Christmas cactus, cyclamen, and kalanchoes). Give both groups good light and regular water, and keep them out of drafts; feed flowering plants in the second group monthly until blooms drop. Water when the top 1/2 inch (1 cm) of soil dries out.
    * If possible, rotate house plants for even growth. Give plants a quarter-turn every week (a chalk mark on the pot helps you keep track).
    * Cacti and succulents are now in their dormant period. Avoid watering cacti between October and March, and water lightly only if they appear withered. Succulents will still need to be watered every month, but be sure to let the soil dry out completely before applying a nominal amount.

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