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Gardener’s almanac (Nov. 2)

  • Published Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Cold-hardiness of vegetables — As temperatures start to flirt with the 30s, you may wonder how much longer your cool-season vegetables will last.

Beets, Chinese cabbage, collards, Irish potatoes, Bibb lettuce, mustard, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard and leaf lettuce can take a light frost but will be damaged once temperatures drop to the mid- to upper 20s, Ward Upham of K-State says. You can extend their season by covering them.

Hardier vegetables are cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, turnips and kale. They aren’t damaged until temperatures reach the low 20s, Upham says.

“Certain root crops can essentially be stored outside even after the leaves have been damaged or killed by frost,” Upham writes in the Horticulture 2013 newsletter. “Beets, carrots, potatoes and turnips can be mulched and harvested as needed until the soil starts to freeze in late November to December.

“Growing vegetables in Kansas can be a challenge, but we have an extremely long gardening season. We can harvest from early April (asparagus) to early December. Winter is a good time to plan and prepare for next year’s crops.”

Plant — Spring-flowering bulbs, trees, shrubs.

Fertilize in November — The most important fertilization of fescue is in September, followed by November. “Why November? Because while top growth slows in response to cool temperatures, grass plants are still making food (carbohydrates) by photosynthesis,” Upham says. “A November nitrogen application helps boost the photosynthesis rate. Carbohydrates that are not used in growth are stored in the crown and other storage tissues in the plant. These carbohydrate reserves help the turfgrass green up earlier in the spring and sustain growth into May without the need for early-spring (March or April) nitrogen. Those early-spring nitrogen applications are less desirable because they can lead to excessive shoot growth and reduced root growth. Other benefits of November-applied nitrogen for cool-season grasses include improved winter hardiness, root growth and shoot density.”

Apply 1 to 1 ½ pounds actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn, Upham says, using a soluble (quickly available) nitrogen carrier such as urea or ammonium sulfate. “Avoid products that contain water-insoluble nitrogen (slow-release) for this application,” Upham says. “As always, sweep up any fertilizer that gets on driveways, sidewalks, or streets and reapply it to the lawn.”

Garden events

Botanica winter schedule — Botanica has moved to its winter schedule, which means that it is closed Sundays until next year (except during the Illuminations holiday event, which will run seven days a week from Nov. 29 through Dec. 31, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).

Talk with “the Spice Man” — Bob Boewe, owner of the Spice Merchant, will be at Botanica on Wednesday to answer questions about coffee roasting, tea brewing, spice use and the history of the Mentholatum Building, where the Spice Merchant is located. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission.

African violet meeting — A discussion and answers to questions about potting mixes for African violets will be part of the meeting of the Wichita African Violet Study Club at 1 p.m. Friday at Botanica. Patty Daniel, the African Violet Society of America regional director and representative, will also discuss what is new with that society and with the Missouri Valley African Violet Council. Guests and prospective members are welcome to attend; admission to the meeting is free.

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