Chores await before winter cold closes in

Weekend garden warriors need to grab their gloves and get busy. It's first Friday, and here's another list of chores from the Gnome, courtesy of Richmond County extension agent Sid Mullis' free booklet, Gardening Calendar.

The Gnome also used two books, Month-by-Month Gardening in Georgia, and Georgia Gardener's Guide , both by Walter Reeves and Erica Glasener, for this list of tips:

- You can still plant pansies and other winter bloomers. Give them fertilizer that is formulated for winter bloomers. If you're planting later in the month, buy bigger plants to ensure they can make it through winter. I'm a six-pack kind of Gnome, but if there's need for replacements by the end of the month, even I will pay more for the larger plants.

- If you haven't yet dug up your caladiums, do so soon. Leave them out to dry, shake off the loose dirt and store in a warm place.

- Plant spring bulbs and fertilize bulbs. I'm a little nervous about fertilizing my established daffodils, considering that most of them are already several inches tall, but (allegedly) it's OK to do so.

(If anyone knows who has snow drops for sale, please shoot me an e-mail. I'm in love with them and must have some.)

- There's still time to divide perennials. Don't be afraid like I used to be. It's good for plants to have breathing room. I noticed a very overgrown bed of coreopsis this past weekend that I thinned out and added to my new garden area. I added some creeping phlox along the brick wall the other week in hopes that one day we'll have pink blooms spilling over the wall and looking incredible.

- If you're not going to do winter vegetables, clean out all weeds and dead plants. That will deny some bad bugs a place to make camp over the winter.

- It's a good time to clean tools and pots. A 1-to-10 solution of bleach and water will clean and disinfect. If you have leftover potting soil in your pots, just add to your beds or garden area.

- Leave the lawn alone, unless you simply must mow again because you're that kind of grass-obsessed guy. It is a good way to chop up the dead leaves at the same time.

No fertilizing unless you have over-seeded the lawn with cool-season grass. You can hit those annoying wild onions and other winter weeds with an herbicide.

- It is a great time to plant shrubs and trees. My better half is in the midst of a Gnome-inspired project to change the look of our back door. Since we moved in, two huge nandinas forests have crowded the back porch and encroached on a flower bed. I have a chase tree and two patio trees to take their place. I predict it will be fabulous, but the nandinas are proving extraordinary difficult.

I like nandinas and have many in the landscape. I just don't want to feel like I'm hacking through jungle every time I come home.

- Oh, and just in case you thought I wouldn't mention it, get the rake and get busy.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com

IN THE GARDEN

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