Dressing Plants for Winter

We’re turning on the heat, unpacking our winter sweaters, and looking up our favorite soup recipes. And if we’re gardeners, we may be figuring out the best way to protect our plants for winter. Lately I’ve been seeing ads for rose collars and burlap wraps. Should I buy some?

Many hybrid roses are grafted onto rootstocks bred for hardiness, not pretty flowers. It’s imperative to protect that graft union in very cold weather. If the top half of the plant dies, the roots will send up shoots next spring—we won’t be aware that anything is wrong until our petite pink rose suddenly grows into a huge sprawling shrub with ugly white flowers.

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It’s Against the Law…

Northern Flicker

Contrary to what we often hear (or see), it’s against the law to shoot a robin. You’re not allowed to take your frustration out on those early-morning hammering flickers, even if they destroy your house. And it’s illegal to bulldoze a prairie dog colony if there are burrowing owls in residence. In fact, because of the 1918 Migratory Bird Act, you’re not allowed to:

… pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of this Convention… for the protection of migratory birds… or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird.

(Did they leave anything out?)

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Snowy Blankets

Snow-covered yard_NSFT_COS_LAH_9309We have a lot of snow in our front yard. It may not seem like much to those who live in Minnesota, upstate New York, or Maine, but for us here along the Front Range of the Rockies, it’s a lot of snow. Colorado is dry. Colorado is sunny. We don’t get all that much snow, and what we do get melts the next day. The “real” snow is supposed to stay up on the ski slopes, not in our front yards.

When we picked out a lot for our new house, we were thinking about a longer growing season from our south-facing backyard, the spectacular view of Pikes Peak out the living room picture windows, the warmth of sunshine filling our bedroom. We carefully oriented our house to take advantage of all these.

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Extending the Harvest

Tomato_DBG_20090915_LAH_0507As fall finally arrives, it’s time to think about early frosts and the end of the growing season. At our house, we are happily celebrating the end of the summer squash glut, and I have no plans to prolong that harvest. Our pole beans are looking a bit peaked, and production has stalled. We enjoyed a bountiful crop, so again, I’m happy to let them succumb to frost.

On the other hand, our tomatoes have just started ripening. (They wilted severely while we were evacuated for the Black Forest fire, and I think it set them back at least a month.) The huge plants are loaded with promising yellow, orange, and pale red fruit, and I’m unwilling to give up so close to our goal.

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