University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
MULCHING AND OTHER NOVEMBER
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension
protecting young trees, and wrapping evergreens are some of the
for this month.
window of opportunity for mulching because you want to wait until
freezes so you don't give rodents a hiding place too soon, but if
mulch before the snow accumulates, it won't get done. If we could
constant snow cover, winter mulching would be less necessary, but in
absence of that reliability, we need to provide a winter blanket.
This is mainly done for young and
un-established, weak, or less hardy perennials.
If a plant
is rated for a zone warmer than the one shown for your site, you
mulching. An example is crocosmia—a
tender summer bulb producing spikes of red (usually) flowers in
early summer. Although usually listed as hardy to zone 6,
these can be grown even in a cold zone 3 with plenty of mulch or
cover. You can find your hardiness zones
online from the USDA (www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/index.html).
Some plants are better off without any mulch,
especially in winter, when it can compact and encourage rotting of
These include coral bells, delphiniums, oriental poppies, iris,
sunscald and frost cracking on young, thin-barked trees, such as
the trunks with tree wrap or use white plastic protectors. These
reflect the warming rays of the sun so the tree bark doesn't heat up
days, only to be suddenly cooled when the sun sets and the
young evergreens from winter sun and wind. Set four stakes around a
to the branches, then wrap burlap around the outside of the
stakes and over the top, and secure it with twist ties poked through
burlap. Make sure evergreens have
a good deep watering before the ground freezes because they continue
respire, albeit slowly, during the winter.
important help you can provide for your hand tools this fall is to
wipe them clean
after use and before storing them for winter. Any moist soil left on
can encourage rust, and dirt can dull pruner blades. Also wipe
with linseed oil to keep them from splitting due to dryness.
Winterize other gardening equipment by
draining water from hoses, storing nozzles inside (so frozen water
crack them), and adding preservative (from rental and hardware
stores) to gas
for mowers and other power equipment.
bags of fertilizers and soil amendments will not only tempt mice
winter, they also can collect moisture and turn lumpy, and paper
bags can start
disintegrating. Pick up some inexpensive large, sturdy plastic
lids to store the bags in; they can also make it easier to dispense
material next time you need it.
keep birds around by feeding them, you should also provide water for
only realistic way to do that in winter is to use an electric
that plugs into an outdoor outlet. Or,
you might buy a birdbath with heater built into it already. They
keep the water just above freezing and
don't endanger the birds. Make sure to
check the water every few days to make sure it hasn’t evaporated, or
and replace it. Also make sure these
heated units are plugged into a properly grounded and approved
sales on bird seed this month, and stock up for winter now.