Start preparing your landscape for a cold to very cold winter. Record low temperatures have been recorded recently throughout the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Also, the Ulawun volcano
of Papua New Guinea erupted in early August sending volcanic ash into
the stratosphere. Those high elevation particles can block the sun's
energy for up to three years, exacerbating the prevailing cooling trend.
Week 1 -
Buy a large, inexpensive
tent and cut a hole in its floor to serve as a temporary, but sturdy, heatable
"greenhouse" for Satsuma Oranges, other half-hardy citrus and Mexican Avocados.
Young, deciduous trees and
shrubs requiring transplanting can be moved as soon as they enter dormancy.
Start fertilizing Texas Columbines;
they have big appetites. Keep them moist, not wet, during their cool-season
Last call to defoliate young
specimens of hybrid Crepe Myrtles to induce dormancy.
Sow Elbon (Cereal) Rye in
bare parts of vegetable garden as both a nematode trap crop and a "green
manure'' to be tilled into soil in late winter.
Week 2 -
Mulch deeply all subtropical
perennials (Begonia, Ginger, Hamelia, Heliconia, Firecracker Bush, Mandevilla,
Plumbago, Poinsettia, Schefflera, etc.) until early March.
Still time to plant hardy
annuals for winter and early spring color. Most need sunny sites. Cyclamen
and Primula will tolerate shade.
Clean martin houses of sparrow
debris and close them up until mid-February.
Last chance to feed lawns
for fall and reap full benefit of winterizing function. Do not use slow-release
fertilizers this late.
Make sure short-day bloomers
(Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus and Kalanchoe) are not exposed to artificial
light at night.
Week 3 -
Finish winterizing your
landscape. Remember to water broadleafed evergreen shrubs and St. Augustine
grass every two weeks during winter and especially when forecast calls
for temperatures dropping below 24° F.
Clean up gardens after first
freeze. Any plants with blights or mites should be thrown away, not composted.
Don't be a drip! Use faucet
covers for freeze protection.
This is still an excellent
time for planting trees, even living Christmas trees.
Cut back edible Asparagus
spears to ground and mulch with composted manure.
Week 4 -
Saw off two inches from
bottom of cut Christmas tree (I prefer the Fraser Fir), place its bottom
in four to six inches of water and spray foliage with an anti-transpirant
(while it is still ourdoors).
Brown patch can be a problem
on 'Raleigh' St. Augustine grass throughout a mild winter. Take appropriate
measures to control it early.
Start taking hardwood cuttings
of trees, shrubs and vines as they become dormant.
Keep potted Poinsettias away
from cold or hot drafts, but near a sunny window. Do not let them get too