Gardener’s almanac (Dec. 8)

12/08/2012 7:20 AM

12/08/2012 7:26 AM

No, you’re not crazy – Bob Neier says he didn’t know he was into counseling as an extension agent but such was the case this week when he heard from a man who said his neighbors thought he was crazy for dragging out his hose to water his lawn after his sprinkler system had already been winterized.

“Am I really crazy?” the man asked Bob.

“You’re not crazy,” Bob assured him. The extension agent says that nice fescue lawns that are not being watered now will survive the winter, but those that are getting water will probably be thicker lawns next spring. Thicker lawns help keep out weeds and disease, not to mention look a lot better, so water is a great ounce of prevention, I’d say.

Pull out a screwdriver and plunge it into the ground to be sure areas around trees, shrubs and perennials are moist. Plants that were planted recently have only their root ball to rely on for moisture, and that’s not a very extensive area. Bob recommends raking leaves around your perennials and wetting them down really well. Return and do the same in a month and a half if we don’t get much moisture.

As the compost turns – Turn your compost pile about once a month, even during the winter, Ward Upham of K-State advises. The pile may need to be watered if ingredients moved to the center are dry, he says. You want the compost to be moist but not dripping when you squeeze a fistful in your hand.

Winterizing the rain barrel – While rain barrels sadly haven’t had much to hold lately, they should be winterized – even though that needn’t involve much.

Bob Neier says that people are of two minds on the question: One says to drain the barrel completely and unhook it for the winter, hooking the downspout back up to your gutter. The other opinion says just leave the faucet open on the rain barrel. The main thing is you don’t want the barrel to sit there holding water.

Garden events

Illuminations at Botanica – The gardens of Botanica are alight seven nights a week from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 30 (excluding Dec. 24 and 25). Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for Botanica members, and $5 for children ages 3 to 12. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at area QuikTrips and Botanica, online at, or by contacting Kathy Osler at 316-264-0448, ext. 107, or via e-mail at

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