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Evergreen season care

Helping evergreen trees and shrubs prepare for winter, wrapping trunks of young trees, and getting tools ready for winter are some of the gardening activities for this month.

Evergreens continue to respire (that is, lose moisture albeit slowly) during the winter, so make sure they have a good deep watering before the ground freezes. It's best to water them well for several weeks, if there aren't deep and long rains. Protect young plants from wind damage during winter by wrapping them in burlap or with wooden protectors on the windward side.

Wrap the trunks with tree wrap or use white plastic protectors to prevent sunscald and frost cracking on young, thin-barked trees, such as maples. These materials will reflect the warming rays of the sun so the tree bark doesn't heat up on winter days, only to be suddenly cooled when the sun sets and the temperatures plummet. The plastic protectors also prevent rodents from gnawing on the trunks. Or, you can wrap the trunks with wire mesh.

Take some time this fall to get your mower and other power equipment ready for storage. Wipe off any dirt and debris, especially loose wet grass that may have accumulated on the deck or caked underneath it. This can rust the deck over winter, shortening the life of the mower body. If reaching under the deck, make sure to disconnect the spark plug first so the engine has no chance of starting. Then you can store with the fuel tank empty or full. If storing with fuel, add a stabilizer, then run the machine for about 10 minutes. Store mowers in a dry location, or if outdoors, wrap in a waterproof tarp.

After their dry summer rest period, watch for signs of shoot growth on amaryllis. That signals it's time to pot them up, or if already potted to resume watering. Use a pot only slightly larger than the bulb diameter. Set a bulb into moistened potting mix so one-half to one-third of the bulb protrudes above the soil. Place the pot in a warm well-lit spot, and don't water it again until the first leaf or flower shoot starts to grow.

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