University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Fall News Article


Charlie Nardozzi, Horticulturist
National Gardening Association, and
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Harvesting root vegetables, and protecting trees and roses for winter, are some of the gardening tips for this month.

If you have a proper root cellar or another method of storing root vegetables, go ahead and harvest them. If you don't, then wait to harvest. Instead, cover mature plantings of carrots, beets and parsnips with a thick layer of straw. This will insulate the soil and prevent the ground from freezing, and you'll be able to harvest fresh produce into early winter by moving aside the straw and digging the roots.

To prevent sunscald (winter sunburn on bark) and frost cracking on young, thin-barked trees, such as maples, wrap the trunks with tree wrap or paint the south- and southwest-facing sides of the trunk with white, outdoor, latex paint. This will reflect the warming rays of the sun so the tree bark doesn't heat up on winter days, only to be suddenly cooled when the sun sets and the temperature plummets.

Make sure evergreens such as yews and rhododendrons have a good deep watering before the ground freezes.  They often lose water through leaves in winter, especially if windy, yet canít take up more because of frozen ground.  Protect young evergreens from wind damage during winter by wrapping them in burlap. If you use wooden protectors, it's not too soon to bring them out.

Once the ground begins to freeze and you have consistent temperatures in the low 20s (F), it's time to protect modern hybrid roses from winter's wind and cold. The simplest method is to mound bark mulch around the base of the rose, covering the graft union (the swollen part of the stem near the ground). The mound should be about 1 foot high. If you can, go a step further and set a cylinder of wire mesh fencing around the plant and fill it with hay or straw. Wait until spring to cut back the canes.  If you have voles or field mice nearby, you may want to mulch with compost or soil instead.

Protect trunks of fruit trees and newly planted trees from mice and other critters with commercial tree guards or wrap mesh fencing around the trunks. Put these protections in place before the snow falls so they extend all the way to the base of the trees.

If you've brought potted plants inside after a summer outdoors, chances are you're now seeing a shiny, sticky substance on the leaves and small black or green aphids on the undersides of the leaves. Sometimes a few dunks in a sink full of mild soapy water will control them.  Otherwise, spray them with an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Aphids are very prolific, so check and treat plants frequently.

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