Fall and Winter Tips for Tillers

Fall and Winter Tips for Tillers
By Shirley Williams, Master Gardening Consultant

The hot sticky days of summer are behind us. The glory of fall and the bite of winter are on their way. Here are some helpful tips for your yard and garden for the fall and winter months.


- Squirrels can't climb the pole if you use a staple gun and attach a Slinky toy to the bottom of your wooden bird feeder, but it's fun to watch them try! Just slide the Slinky over the pole and save the birdseed for the birds.

- Create pumpkin pots. Scoop out small, lightweight pumpkins. Put three small holes in the bottom. Fill with potting soil and plant with three or four pansies. Water well. After the first heavy frost, discard your pumpkin (preferably in a compost pile). If you plant the pansies in a pot inside the pumpkin, you can sink the pot in the ground to save them for next spring.


- Slugs are mating and laying eggs now. The caffeine in a strong cup of coffee will kill slugs. Regular strength coffee will repel them.

- Mix sand and a little oil (WD-40 or cooking oil), put in a container and shove clean yard tools in it for the winter to prevent rust and damage.

- Use a child-sized rake to clean out window wells. It's small enough to get into all the corners, and the handle eliminates the need to get down on your hands and knees.


- Amaryllis bulbs that have begun to grow in stores with no root growth are stressed and probably will have smaller flowers. Pick a bulb whose bud tip is barely showing. Check to see that it is firm – a soft bulb may be rotting. Buy large, firm bulbs.

- Cut fresh greens (except holly) at least three days before arranging them. Place cut ends in warm water. Spray foliage with Wilt-Pruf or Envy before arranging.


- Try using a big, zippered plastic storage bag as a greenhouse. Put a cardboard or plastic box in the bottom. Plant seeds in it. Put a bamboo pole in each corner to hold the bag upright. You can carry it outside to harden plants off earlier than plants that are uncovered. Be careful that they don't get too hot in the sun. Make sure to leave a hole for hot air to escape.


- Set out cool-season annuals, such as pansies and vegetables, such as broccoli later this month.

- Cut back blades on ornamental grasses. Tie together to make cutting easier. Large plants can be divided into several clumps. Use electric hedge clippers. It is also okay to use a chain saw.

- Butterflies and hummingbirds like Lantana.


- Do all pruning now. Clean up all cut materials and old leaves from around plants. Rework soil slightly, adding organic matter and 1/4 cup of superphosphate and 3 tablespoons of Epsom salts to each plant.

- A light dusting of ground sulfur over the bed will help control mildew for the first month. When new growth is 2" long, apply a balanced fertilizer over the bed. Apply Wilt-Pruf whenever you have about 3" of new growth to deter both mildew and black spot.

- Fertilize spring flowering bulbs until foliage turns brown. Add mulch as needed. Do not mulch over growing crowns or evergreen plants.

- Install bird houses or clean existing ones. Continue feeding to attract young birds.

Distributed with permission from The Garden Forum, Official Publication of the Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri, Inc.