November 5, 2008  
Winter May Be Just around the Corner

We never know exactly when winter conditions will strike. In some years the ground remains unfrozen into January. The first hard frost usually arrives in late September and it was true to form this year.  

When I went to work on October 22nd in Denning, several cars came in covered with an inch or two of snow, most from the higher elevations of Red Hill Road and Porcupine Road.  

As I write this, snow is already flying and predictions are in the eight inches vicinity. Hey! It's only early November.  

On one related note, I've never seen such an abundant production of fruits and nuts. Everywhere I look I see huge numbers of apples on the roadside beneath long-established wild trees. So too, mushrooms and an abundance of other fruits and nuts. A couple of explanations rise to the fore immediately. The growing season has been favored more than usual with relatively even moisture and temperatures. Few extremely dry periods, few dog days. Photosynthesis has performed admirably this year to the benefit of all green growing things.  

On another related note, there appears to be an oral tradition, or maybe it's folklore falling somewhere in between myth and legend. A little like the woolly bear story and the coming winter. The suggestion is that when nature provides such abundance, it's for the benefit of her creatures to fill their bellies in preparation for a long and difficult winter. I won't speculate, but rather hope it's not a corollary. The Old Farmers' Almanac keeps its formulas or equations for prediction extremely secret.  


This roadside wild apple tree
has never borne so heavily as this year.

The number of leaves remaining on trees in late September seemed an all time high, as did their size and verdancy, in spite of more than a few inches of rain late in the month. And then the magnificent color changes, too, seemed an all time spectacle. Probably an optimum amount of sugars in the leaves was a key factor. What do you think? Was this fall's color show above par? My drive around on Columbus Day left my jaw dropping around each bend with fiery colors in many locals. 

So, forward we must move. The post-gardening phase of our landscape and home and grounds care and protection is upon us, and I'll outline several of the most important steps you might tackle now. You'll find time and nice weather, I'm sure.  

If flower and vegetable gardens haven't been cleaned up and garden debris removed by now, this must be done soon so pests and diseases don't have a place to over-winter. This includes the ubiquitous slugs.  

Bird feeders and nesting boxes should be cleaned and ready to do service now and in the spring.  

Spring flowering bulbs as well as garlic and shallots can be planted as long as the soil can be worked.  

Continue to water newly plants trees, shrubs and perennials if rainfall is lacking (it certainly hasn't been these past weeks) until the ground is frozen or snow covered. Who knows when this will be?  

A favorite thing for me to do at this time of year is harvest my favorite mulch, pine needles. I collect them and store them dry until I need them.  

For you lovers of starting plants from seeds, if you're after apple, cherry, peach, plum, and pear, mix them with sharp builders sand or add some fast draining aggregate to your soil and bury the container outdoors where they can be kept moist. You might protect the containers with some hardware cloth or screen to keep out the creatures that want the seeds to eat. Freezing is beneficial. Most should germinate in the spring. 

I'll be in touch right before Thanksgiving.  

No race can prosper until it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.
            - Booker T. Washington

From The Garden of Ed. Submitted for publication in The Towne Crier on November 5, 2008

© 2008 Ed Mues. All Rights Reserved.