Sprainbrook Nursery presents Krautter's Korner
November. An educational newsletter from Al Krautter. This is a free service to the web community! Follow the link in each section's title for archived articles. This page is updated every month, so check back often!
Timing is important in gardening. We have one more good month to take advantage of the best time of the year to plant and transplant. The fall colors move slowly south, and in early November Westchester County is a blaze of color. Nowhere in the Country are the colors as intense as in the North East. This is the time of year to marvel at turning leaf colors and to add some plants with this trait to your garden. After fall color comes leaf drop a process that has already started. November is a month when we must diligently pursue the clean up of leaves before they damage our lawns, ground covers and other low growing plants.
The fallen leaves can cause rotting and suffocation. It is important that they get cleaned up constantly throughout the leaf fall process. If you have enough space, leaves can make great compost. Mother Nature rewards us with products to put back into the earth. Compost piles need to be turned at least three times a year. If the leaf drop is not to heavy you can recycle them back into the turf by cross cutting your lawn with several passes until the pieces are small enough to decompose. Leaves, although not bacterial dominated, add much needed carbon to the soil. Most gardeners will blow the leaves and in the process they will blow away most of your mulch. It is important to replace this mulch after the final clean up and before the harsh winter weather sets in. Mulch prevents the alternating freezing and thawing and conserves moisture in the ground. It helps prevent winter injury.
We have a chance at this time of the year, when top growth stops and root systems continue to grow, to build up the root systems of our plants. Daniel's fertilizer and Liquid Feedback are our recommendations for plants that have suffered stress. Plant-Tone is our recommendation as a general fertilizer for everything that is bacterial dominated (alkaline) in the garden and Hollytone for everything fungal dominated (acid). Roots continue to grow all winter even though top growth has stopped. It is important to feed your plants in order to develop a good deep root system. A plant is only as strong as the roots that support it.
November is the month when the first hard freeze usually occurs. This is our signal that it is time to plant our spring blooming bulbs. Daffodils should be planted first, usually going in the ground by the end of October or early November. Tulips and small bulbs can be planted somewhat later. This is a task you don't want to neglect. After a long dreary winter there is nothing more uplifting than early spring bulbs coming into bloom. Purchase your bulbs now before it is too late. Important considerations before planting are a good layout, sequence of bloom and pretty combinations. With a little bit of thought and imagination great spring displays can be created. It is easy to run out of planting time. Winter can unexpectedly come early so don't procrastinate. Don't be let down in the spring because you did not plant in the fall.
Now that the colder weather has arrived, plant Ornamental Cabbage to extend your season of color. Many years Cabbage and Kale will stay in color until Christmas and often well beyond. We carry a large selection of decorative evergreens that will give you color throughout the winter.
EVERGREENS, TREES, SHRUBS: November is still a good month to plant. It is the best month for large trees and shrubs. Take advantage of our specials. Feed Evergreens, Trees and Shrubs with Plant-Tone. Cool weather and long nights have forced this group of plants into their dormant state. Although the top is dormant, the roots continue to grow and that is why it is important to feed late but light. The inner foliage of many evergreens will turn yellow and drop. This is a normal sequence of events. If excessive yellowing takes place, it is an indication that the plant was stressed at some time during the year. Some evergreens will turn a bronzy foliage color for the winter. Hot summers and dry periods can be very stressful on plants. Don't put your hose away. Continue watering throughout the month of November. As difficult a chore as this may be . . . I hope that everyone learned the lessons of a harsh winter. When a brutal winter hits, many plants die or are severely winter burned. When you stop watering too early, plants lack the proper moisture in their cells. So if the rains don't come, stretch the hoses out and give your plants a good watering.
PERENNIALS: Most perennials need to be put to bed. Cut them down, clean up all the dead debris and cover the bed with a 2-inch layer of mulch. If compost was not applied in October add it and then mulch. Make sure you save the plants with winter color such as the grasses and late bloomers. Grasses can give you color all winter long and the late plumes should be cut back when they are finished blooming. Feed with Plant-Tone to help develop a strong root system during the winter. Fundy Blend is a popular mulch with great nutritive value.
ANNUALS: Dead plant material should be removed to avoid contaminating the soil for the following year. Plant bulbs for early spring color. Pansies can be planted in the fall and again will in early spring.
ROSES: As the leaves fall off, make sure you rake them away as they are breeding grounds for insects and diseases. In late November or early December your roses need to be hilled.
LAWNS: Humates should be applied to your lawn in November. We recommend 'Jonathen Green Humates or Dry Roots. This is an important step in our organic program for developing a better root system. After your last leaf rake-up apply Magical a high calcium lime. Westchester soils are acidic. Grass grows better in a soil ph. of 7 ; and weeds and clover grow better in an acidic soil. Clover, not grass, is what creates grass stains on your children's clothing. Liming is the natural way to get rid of clover and to give grass a competitive advantage over weeds. Also, keep your grass free of leaves.
VEGETABLE GARDENS: Plant a cover crop. We carry Winter Rye seeds for this purpose. Cover crops are organic manure. They keep weeds crowded out of the garden and prevent erosion. Turned into the soil it adds great nutritional value. Top dress with rich compost. Increased microbial activity will help reduce fungus problems in the following year. Bare ground should be cultivated frequently to avoid weed seeds from developing. This is a method used by many growers to reduce weeding for next year.
HOUSE PLANTS: Grow fresh air in your house and in your work place by adding house plants. An alarming health problem is developing in our homes and in the work place. In our desire to conserve energy we have developed tightly sealed buildings which trap toxic gases from synthetic materials and other sources in the air we breathe. Long time exposure to these chemicals is causing major health problems. Many people spend more than 90% of their time indoors and the problem is referred to as 'sick building syndrome'. This is a growing health problem which can be solved by adding plants which will purify your air. Don't miss our house plant lecture Saturday, November 20th from 10am to 12:00 noon. We have the largest selection of flowering and foliage plants in this area. Our greenhouses are filled to capacity with plants we grow. Flowering plants add color throughout your house, are great decorations for the holidays or centerpieces for special occasions. They are less expensive than cut flowers and last longer. Flowers add a smile to your day. Europeans have learned this and can't live without flowering plants in their homes. With the stressful life we live, Americans also need to learn this simple lesson. Foliage plants add color to dull areas and we grow these plants in all sizes, shapes, textures and colors. Plants help purify the air. They provide added oxygen and moisture to the room. They remove toxins from your air and add humidity to a dry atmosphere. Through tiny openings in the leaves called stomata plants absorb carbon dioxide which they convert into oxygen. Along with this process they absorb chemicals in the air. These toxic chemicals can be utilized by the plant or translocated to the roots where microbes will ingest them and break them down. Plants release phytochemicals that suppress mold spores and bacteria found in the air. Growing fresh air is our challenge. House plants are the answer to healthier living.
Surrounding yourself with plants is healthy. It is important to make plants part of your indoor environment and part of your household. Many people will name their plants and will talk to them. This type of communication is beneficial to both. Our plants are organically grown, and lots of the microbial activity takes place in our soil. The quality of our plants is incredible. We grew our plants with Daniel's organic fertilizer, a fertilizer you should use on all your indoor plants. You need to stop by and look at our Poinsettia crop to prove to yourself the value of this product. I have never seen so many shoots producing so many flowers. It is truly amazing. In today's market you can buy plants everywhere, but our plants our superior. Supermarket plants are tempting and look good to the eye but unless they are properly grown they will not last. Chemical fertilizers and synthetic soils are the cheap way to produce a plant but it pays to buy quality. We call this value. Not only do they look great but they last longer. We grow our plants in clay pots. Clay pots breathe and allow oxygen into the soil which is healthy for plants. Clay pots are made from the earth making them an ideal green product. .
PRUNING: Pruning is an important garden practice that needs to be done throughout the year. Now is an ideal time to prune hedges, evergreens and summer blooming plants. Once your plants go into their dormant state, pruning should take place. Use a Felco 2 hand bypass Pruner to preserve the natural look; and keep your gardener with his electric trimmers far away from your foundation plants. Pruning is an art you can learn. You learn by doing and knowing your plant material. Plants that have set their buds for next year require minimal pruning at this time of the year. Cut out only old growth, dead branches or runaway growth. Pruning should not be done unless you are willing to sacrifice their bloom for one year. The purpose of pruning is to keep your foundation plants full and thick and at the height you desire. Prune to keep your hedges full and thick to the bottom. We see so many hedges that have been neglected. They are bare at the bottom and overgrown at the top. There are tree branches too low where they block views or where they provide too much shade for vegetation underneath. We see shrubs that have become overgrown. Small trees need to be topped and shaped as they are growing. We have crews who can help you with this project. To become effective at pruning you need to know your plant, understand the importance of timing and know what your goals are. Each cut should be an educated cut. Call us early to schedule a free estimate. If you are doing it on your own, we can help you with any questions you may have. Don't miss our pruning lecture on November 6th from 10:00 -12:00 noon.
Plant Feature: Ornamental Cabbage and Kale
Ornamental Cabbage and Kale. After the Chrysanthemums fade away, there is not much color left in the garden. This is where Ornamental Cabbage and Kale come into their own. I have seen them hold their color up to the first snowfall. They are best planted in large groupings mixing the colors or creating designs. They are beautiful when mixed with grasses, evergreens or just by themselves. I like to mix them with the fall blooming pansies. We create combination containers which fit beautifully on landings, entrances or patios.
November is the biggest sale month of the year for the home garden. We will plant shade trees free during November 2010. Place orders by November 15th. On Landscape jobs we are offering 20% off plant material during the remainder of 2010. Twenty per cent on all outdoor plants. All Perennials, Trees, Evergreens, Shrubs, and Grasses. All outdoor containers are thirty percent off. This is a huge sale don't miss it.
This has been our fourth year as an organic Garden Center. Growing plants organically has been a challenge but it also has been extremely rewarding. Come visit our greenhouses and see the incredible crops we have been able to produce for the Holiday season. Some people liken it to the Findhorn Gardens where the incredible story of Organics took Europe by surprise. The more I get involved in organics and the more I understand the concepts and uses of the products, the more I am amazed. I once focused my attention on cures and now I focus my attention on prevention. By building up the immune system, I have cured most problems and I have grown great plants. I strongly believe that plants are teaching us lessons. We need to change our philosophy and focus on prevention. Proof of this is another incredible Poinsettia crop. I know the temptation will be to pick one up at the supermarket, but if you want a great poinsettia that will last, pick one up at SPRAINBROOK.
Grow wheat grass in your home. Bring nature inside. Purify your air. Chew wheat grass as a family and receive the many medical benefits it offers you. Teach children the thrill of nurturing and growing something on their own. They will grow up to be better gardeners.
Every house should have an aloe plant. This plant called the Indian medicine plant cures many things but is essential to have on the window sill in your kitchen to apply to burns or cuts. Pick up our informational packet called Focus On Prevention Rather Than Cures covering both Wheat Grass and Aloe.
See you at Open House. There will be refreshments including our famous German Stollen. Roll the dice and see if you are lucky enough to win an indoor plant. For the young and young at heart the train will be back with its whistle blowing and its smoke billowing on its path around the Red Barn. All of our Christmas plants and decorations will be on display. Come join us, it is always a fun time.
THE TREE WHISPERER
We are proud to announce that we are bringing to Westchester County Dr. Jim the "Tree Whisperer." Dr. Jim is well known throughout the country and a legend in the organic community. We are lucky to have him come to SPRAINBROOK Nursery on November 14 Sunday from 1:00 pm to 3:00pm for this free program. If you love trees, you need to come and hear what he has to say. It will be an amazing experience for anyone who can attend. Please pass the word on as this is a very special event. Pick up a flyer covering all the details.. Please pass the information onto friends. The lecture will take place in the foliage house among our indoor trees.
REMAINING EVENTS TAKING PLACE
On most evergreens, the inner foliage turns yellow in the fall. This foliage will drop and replenish itself with new spring growth. If the plant has suffered stress, the problem is accentuated. Apply liquid Feedback for root development and Daniel's fertilizer to promote more root growth. Plant-Tone should be applied to the rest of the area . . . Develop a good root system and the plant will flourish again next spring.
"What can I do to repel Deer?" I like Deer Stopper which is sprayed on the plants, contains Rosemary and Mint oil and affects the deer's sense of taste. Deer Scram, acting on their sense of smell, seems to be the hottest deer repellent on the market right now. It is a safe, natural, biodegradable, organic and is a highly effective repellent. People keep coming back to buy more because it works. It is a granular formula that is simply spread around the plant area, making it very easy to apply. It is effective in up to 24 inches of snow. It will not harm humans or animals and costs less than two cents per square foot. A 6 lb. pail covers 3,000 sq. ft. I like to affect both taste and smell. We recommend alternating taste repellent sprays. Try switching among Super Repellent, Deer Guard, Liquid Fence or Bobbex.
Fall is for planting and when you walk the Unilock paths throughout the Nursery, there is still a lot of beautiful specimen plant material that fill this area. Many of the landscape designers who shop all the local nurseries say we are the only place that still has good-looking plants material. November is the last good month for planting and if you have let the fall get away from you, visit Sprainbrook so that you can fill in some empty spots or make some additions to your garden. If you need help, it is never too late to make an appointment with one of our landscape designers. Our designs constantly receive rave revues from our customers. Ornamental Cabbage and Kale will greet you as you enter the Nursery - it is our preferred plant for outdoor color at this time of the year when all other flowers have faded. The greenhouses are a sea of beauty: The Rieger Begonia is one of the best blooming house plants and comes in many exciting colors; Cyclamen is my favorite. My mother had miniature Cyclamen blooming for her all year; Chrysanthemum (the traditional fall flowering plant) African Violets are a great windowsill plants that bloom all year round. It is the plant that SPRAIN BROOK was famous for. There are many other flowering and foliage plants which we grow and they are listed with their cultural requirements on the web. Check out our incredible selection. Our aim is to grow the best.
We will again offer for sale our Kissing Balls, our famous evergreen centerpieces, freshly decorated wreathes, roping, fresh-cut trees and quality plants. The trains will be ready to run for Open House which takes place the first weekend of the Advent Season. Don't miss Open House it is a fun event. We are open all year, seven days a week. We will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.