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story.lead_photo.caption Simulate the cool storage period some seeds need to germinate by putting them in moist potting soil and storing in the refrigerator. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JANET B. CARSON)

Fall is finally here and rain came with it.

We may still have a shot at some good fall color before all the leaves fall. Northwest Arkansas should have good color since it never got as dry as the rest of the state. Good fall color occurs when there is ample soil moisture, coupled with warm days and cool nights. For a while there, much of the state was bone dry with warm days and warm nights. Some trees began to shed early and some have already browned out, but we are starting to see some nice color on some maples, sweetgums, blackgum and Chinese pistache.

• If you need a new shade tree, November is the ideal time to plant one. If you are looking for one with good fall color, buying one while it is in its fall glory can give you an idea of what it has to offer. November is also a good month because the trees are going dormant so the limited root system won't have to supply energy to foliage, and can begin the business of establishing roots. It is also easier on the gardener, since we often have ample rainfall in the fall and early winter, and lower temperatures help to prevent water loss.

• Even if your summer annuals still look good, it is time to pull them and begin planting winter color. You have many options, including pansies, violas, panolas, dianthus, snapdragons, Swiss chard, flowering kale and cabbage and dusty miller. Planting now will allow them time to establish some roots before really cold weather hits. You can also plant spring-blooming bulbs now. For double the beauty, plant your spring bulbs beneath where you are planting the winter annuals. The bulbs will grow up through the flowers to give you even more color next spring.

• Fall cleanup is needed. Cut back perennials as they die back. Canna foliage needs to be removed from the garden to prevent canna leafrollers from overwintering in the debris.

• Clean up your spent summer vegetables and replant with fall and winter crops. Many gardeners are still getting a good supply of peppers from their summer garden, but pay attention to frost predictions. When it looks imminent, harvest all the peppers, eggplants and tomatoes that are lingering. Green tomatoes will ripen gradually indoors. Sweet potatoes must be harvested before a frost, and winter squash and gourds will also need to be harvested before a frost hits. Most garden centers still have vegetable transplants available. With just a little added protection, you can grow vegetables all winter outside. Now is also a great time to plant parsley and cilantro.

• Leaves are falling. When you have just a light layer, a lawnmower can mulch the leaves, but when they pile up you will need to rake them up. Leaving heavy piles of leaves can smother out your lawn if left there all winter. Shredded leaves make a great mulch in vegetable and flower beds.

• We still have flowers on shrubs in the garden. Buddleia and abelia are still blooming, along with good blooms on Encore azaleas. We are also seeing the beginning blooms on camellias. Depending on which varieties you have, we can have blooms from now through April. If your garden doesn't have any camellias, consider planting some. They add color when we desperately need it.

It's best to label and date seeds you put in the refrigerator (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JANET B. CARSON)
It's best to label and date seeds you put in the refrigerator (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JANET B. CARSON)

TERM OF THE MONTH

STRATIFICATION

Stratification is a cool, moist storage period that some seeds need before they will germinate.

Many seeds from trees and shrubs that grow in climates that have frosts, naturally would experience a storage period outside in cool, moist conditions during the winter months. To simulate those conditions but protect the seeds from squirrels or other rodents, you can store the seeds in a plastic bag filled with moist potting soil in the refrigerator.

Some seeds need a short stratification period of 3-4 weeks, while others need a 3-4-month stratification period. For seed propagation, there are many "recipe" books that give you the required treatment to help the seeds be most productive.

Read Janet Carson's blog at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet.

HomeStyle on 11/02/2019

Print Headline: Breaking Ground

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