Draining hoses and irrigation lines – Hopefully it’s raining today – if not, get out there and water – but do be planning for winterization measures of your watering system as we need them. Ward Upham of K-State gives these instructions:
“Hoses and shallow irrigation lines may be damaged over the winter if water is not drained. If there is a main shut-off valve for the system, close it and then run through the zones to make sure any pressure has a chance to bleed off. Lawn irrigation systems usually have shallow lines. Though some lines may be self-draining, check to be sure there are no manual drains. If so, they should be opened. Be sure to map them so they can be closed next spring before the system is pressurized.
“Drain hoses by stretching them out and coiling them for storage. Water will drain as you pull the hose toward you for coiling. Store in a protected place. UV light can make hoses brittle over time.”
Planting spring-flowering bulbs – Election Day has come and gone, and bulbs can still be planted, as long as the ground is not frozen. But it’s always better to plant earlier rather than later. When shopping for bulbs at this point, make sure the ones you buy are still firm and are not sprouting, Upham says.
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Fall pruning – I see some rogue sprouts shooting out of some of my shrubs, and I never know what to do about them this time of year. According to Upham, light pruning and removal of dead wood are fine now, but don’t do anything major. “Light” pruning means that less than 10 percent of the plant is removed, he says. (Dead wood does not count toward the 10 percent.) So cutting out the occasional “wild hair” is fine.
Plants that bloom in spring such as lilac and forsythia should not be pruned until after they bloom in the spring. You can do light pruning of them now, but keep in mind that that will reduce their flowering next year.
Cleaning up perennials – Perennials that lose their leaves can be left intact over the winter if they’ve been pest-free, to leave structure, form and color to the winter garden, Upham says. Otherwise, dead stems should be cut to keep insects and diseases down, or to tidy up the garden if the perennials look messy rather than attractive in dormancy, he says. Ornamental grasses normally are left uncut over the winter, unless they’re close to a structure, because they can be a fire hazard. In that case, cut them to the ground, Upham says. Foliage also can be left to help protect marginally hardy plants such as tender ferns, and seedheads can provided seed for birds, he says.
Garden club meeting – The Suburban Garden Club will have its next meeting and program at 10 a.m. Monday at SSI Sprinkler Systems, 7330 W. 13th St. Lunch will be at Genghis Grill for those who want to go. Canned goods for donation to charity will be collected. For more information, call Sherryl Fitzpatrick at 316-721-4810.
Holiday porch-pot lecture – Karen Hull of Johnson’s Garden Center will be at Botanica on Wednesday to demonstrate how to decorate pots with fresh greens, holly, pinecones and bows. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission.
Rosy food drive – You can exchange donations to the Kansas Food Bank for free roses through November at Via Christi gift shops. Six free roses are given in exchange for five food-pantry items or a $5 donation.