Preparing Your Garden for Winter

The gardening season is almost over, but there are some loose ends that need your attention.
    Now that the asparagus stems have passed yellow and are turning gray-brown, all of the nitrogen has drained from the stem back into the roots. So the time has come to cut the stems near the ground and clean up the bed. If the bed is infested with such perennial weeds as clover, oxalis, dandelions, plantain or quack grass, it is safe to spray the weeds with glyphosate (Roundup). Add some Weed B Gone if clover is present. Now that the asparagus stems have died, the roots cannot absorb the herbicides.

Caring for Redbud

Q:    After Hurricane Irene, I made a ­Critical Area planting of redbuds. Some prospered wonderfully, but many are afflicted. They’ve been watered a few times as needed. Should they just be left in the hands of God or somehow treated?
–Kent Mountford, Lusby

A: Redbud is not only a drought-tolerant tree, but a short-lived tree as well. As a legume, it likes a pH around 6.5 and does poorly in acid soils. When transplanting them, I always recommend amending the backfill with gypsum so the tree can readily absorb calcium. Redbud and oaks do not go well together.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected] All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

    A dauber is the safest tool for applying these herbicides. Make your own dauber by nailing a two-inch square piece of sponge at the end of a stick. Blend the herbicides at three times the concentration recommend as a spray. Using this technique, you need only mix about a cup of material. Moisten the sponge in the concentrated herbicide and dab the weeds.
    Have you purchased straw for mulching your strawberries? Make certain that you buy straw and not hay to minimize weed invasion. As soon as the ground freezes, spread straw over the plants to provide 80 to 90 percent shade. Do not apply so much straw that it smothers the plants.
    Mow your cover crop if it has grown a foot or more to minimize top growth during the winter months, which will make it easier to plow under in the spring. Do this before you winterize your lawn mower.
    Take time to clean, sharpen and oil your pruning tools so that they will be ready to use next spring. This is also a good time to winterize your lawn mower by emptying the fuel tank, removing and cleaning or replacing the spark plug and placing a few drops of oil on the cylinder head before replacing the sparkplug. Clean or replace the air filter and sharpen the blade.
    You’ll be eager to get in the garden come spring, and you won’t want rusty tools holding you back.