If you are enjoying these lovely fall days, I applaud you. And as much as I hate to disturb your reverie and be that tap on the shoulder that reminds you of things you should be doing, somebody's got to do it.
Here's part of my to-do list; maybe it will remind you of a few autumn chores you need to do, too.
- Pick green tomatoes before frost hits. Frost will make tomatoes mushy and unfit to eat. Any full-size, or nearly so, tomato will ripen at room temperature if it is light green or yellowish. Lay them in a box so they aren't touching and put them in a cool, dark place; light is not needed to ripen them. Check every few days for signs of spoilage.
- Plant bare-root trees and shrubs before the ground freezes. Refer to the recent book written by Jackson County Master Gardeners, "Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley — Trees and Shrubs," for helpful advice. It's available at most nurseries and garden stores.
- Between now and mid-December, plant spring-flowering bulbs and corms: crocus, daffodils, tulips, lilies. Add shallots and garlic to that list, too, if you haven't planted them yet.
- Dig and store dahlias and gladiolus after a frost. It is not recomm-ended that they be left in the ground, as they will rot or freeze if we have a wet or especially cold winter. Store dahlias in damp sand; glads can be stored in mesh bags or old nylon stockings.
- Tidy up the garden. Rotting fruits and vegetables and leaves with diseases such as blackspot will just multiply your problem if left in place. Garden litter also provides a place for slugs and other pests to hide for the winter.
- Compost leaves, except from trees that had fall webworm; discard or burn those. If you don't have a leaf shredder, chop the leaves by running a lawnmower over them. Leaves left whole tend to mat and don't decompose readily. Spread the leaves where you have bulbs planted, over any plants that need winter protection, or over bare patches of ground.
- Bring tender plants such as geraniums into the garage or other cool area. Let them stay pretty dry all winter; they will perk up again in the spring.
- Make a mental note to remember to water plants this winter that are under the eaves, as they don't benefit from winter rains.
- Protect your watering system from freezing. Broken pipes are no fun.
- Put your feet up and browse through all those seed catalogs you've been getting. Make an early New Year's resolution to try something new this year. Be a curious gardener.
- Consider attending the 13th annual, all-day gardening symposium "Winter Dreams and Summer Gardens" on Saturday, Nov. 5. Sponsored by Jackson County Master Gardeners, the symposium offers 40 classes from which to choose. It's held at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center in Medford. Call 541-776-7371 for a registration packet and description of classes.
Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. E-mail her at email@example.com.