I had some chores to do out back and decided to take one of the warm days we had last week to accomplish my end-of-the-year gardening tasks.
It was 75 (23 c) degrees outside late last week and I needed to change the water in our hot tub (I despise doing this in the cold weather and today it is only going to be 61 (16 c) degrees!!! I am glad I did it last week.) While I was waiting for the hot tub to drain, I decided to pick some of the last summer squash (I got 12!) and also wanted to take cuttings from one of my plants that grew too big.
This plant is a frangipani. I got it at the outdoor market in New Orleans 2 weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit there in 2005. It took 11 years to get this big. It is over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall! I no longer have room for it in the house. (It must come inside for the winter where I live.) Time to take cuttings to save for next spring.
Taking cuttings is so easy! Just cut off a piece. I used a hand held saw.
These will stay in the grass until the white milky sap stops running. I am going to leave them there overnight. That is it! Store them in a cool dry place until next spring! (The leaves will drop off as the pieces go dormant.) Then, in the spring, I will replant them to start growing all over again!
FYI - if you live in a sub-tropical climate, they can can be planted outside in your landscaping.
Another pre-winter chore I do every year is to prune the apple trees and grapes. To me, the apple trees are easier than the grapes. As you can see in the first picture posted above, my grapes grow on a trellis. It is quite challenging to figure out which vine to cut! I use the power of prayer to help me decide which of the pieces needs to go!
Here is one of my pruned apple tree. You can see, the pieces I removed are piled in the front of the picture (along with the princess!). I will cut them into smaller pieces and save for kindling for the fire place - they will not be used until next winter - they need a while to dry out. Apple wood makes great soap so I will be saving the ashes from the fireplace!
Pruning is necessary to make sure that branches do not rub on each other. (That invites diseases.) It also helps the tree to maximize the number of apples you get each year. Pruned trees produce more apples. The last thing I need to do is spray with dormant oil. I will do that when all the leaves fall for the year and the trees are truly dormant. That may not happen until mid December.
The hot tub was draining slowly so while I waited, I also decided to plant a few more bushes in one of the new landscaping areas I created this summer. This area has some encore azaleas (they bloom in the fall as well as the spring) and razzleberri chinense flowering bushes. These things grow 4 to 6 feet tall (1.2 to 1.8 m). They will be perfect to screen the view of the fence! I plan to mulch them tomorrow.
I also harvested some of the carrots and put up my mini greenhouse on one of the raised beds that is growing additional carrots, spinach and peas. This should produce all winter long!