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Lawn and Garden

Cooler Days Ahead

Now is the time to prepare the landscape for winter. The seasonal outlook for this winter is that it will be wetter and cooler than normal. Because daylight savings has ended you should be running your irrigation system only one day per week, according to St. Johns River Water Management District watering restrictions. Homes with an odd number may run their system on Saturdays and those with an even number on Sundays. Businesses may irrigate on Tuesdays. Irrigating excessively during the winter when landscape plants are not growing and utilizing water, only supports cool season weed growth, diminishing the quality of your yard.                                               

If you have tender perennials or tropical plants you may want to take cuttings from those plants to root indoors during the winter. This way if the parent plant is killed by cold you will have new starts to set out in spring. This can also save you money.                                                                                                                   It is always wise to have plant covers on hand before the first major freeze occurs. By the time most people get home from work in winter it is getting dark. Having your materials ready for the first big chill will be prudent on your part. Ideally a plant cover does not touch the plant but is supported by some type of staking system. The covers should be loose and not drawn tight around the base of the plant. The idea is to create a tent over the plant which will capture radiant heat emitting from the ground during the cold night. This creates a warm zone for the plant. The corners of the cover can be secured with tent stakes or fill a gallon milk jug with water and tie a cover corner to the jug’s handle. To generate addition warmth an incandescent light bulb can be allowed to run under the cover and this will generate heat during the freezing night.                                                                                                                           Potted plants which are left outdoors for the winter can be grouped together so they are warmer on a cold night. If a potted plant is too heavy to bring indoors but likely to freeze, lay it on its side and then cover it. The ground stays warmer than the air above it so this will give the plant added cold protection. Make plans now before ‘Jack Frost’ comes to town.

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