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What Not To Do

What Not to Do
By Paul James
I know. I usually write about what you should be doing in the garden. But today I’m taking the opposite approach by focusing on a number of things you should not be doing this time of year. After all, what you don’t do can be just as important as what you do do.
What Not to Prune
Most deciduous trees and shrubs should be pruned in late winter to early spring, and most conifers and evergreens should be pruned in spring. Simple enough, right? But there are exceptions.

Don’t prune trees and shrubs that bloom in early spring, because if you do you’ll likely remove the developing flower buds that actually began forming in late summer. Instead, withhold pruning until after the flowers fade. That includes trees such as cherry, crabapple, dogwood, redbud, and saucer magnolia, as well as azalea, forsythia, and serviceberry, just to name a few.

And don’t prune evergreens this time of year because doing so may encourage new growth that could succumb to freezing temperatures in winter and result in brown (as in dead) foliage. This is particularly true of boxwood.
A bird’s diet must fuel a metabolism that can require up to 10,000 calories a day, which is equivalent to a human consuming 155,000 calories!
What Not to Fertilize
Thinking about fertilizing your warm-season grass lawn? Don’t. Bermuda grass and zoysia are entering their dormant phase now, so they don’t need to be fertilized. And when dormant, the grasses can't take up the nutrients anyway, so fertilizing now is a waste of money. Cool-season grasses -- fescue and rye -- can be fertilized once more this month.

Houseplants -- other than the few that flower in winter -- shouldn’t be fertilized either during the winter months. That’s because the plants aren’t in an active growth phase this time of year and don’t really need a nutrient boost. And fertilizing now can lead to spindly growth and even root burn.

So what about trees and shrubs? Well, there are two camps on the subject. One says that because roots continue to grow during the winter months, you should fertilize in winter. The other says that because soil microbes aren’t particularly active in cold weather, they can’t convert the nutrients in fertilizers into the forms needed for uptake by the roots.

Of course, you can always straddle the fence by fertilizing, but using only half the recommended amount. Your call.
Each 10-pound bag of leaves put on the curb has 4.7 lbs of carbon, plus varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, and zinc, all of which are essential for plant growth.
Don’t Deadhead Flowering Plants
Dried, faded flowers aren’t necessarily attractive to us, but to birds, they represent a veritable smorgasbord of oil-rich seeds. So resist the temptation to tidy up by removing spent flowers, especially those of aster, black-eyed Susan, coneflower, coreopsis, cosmos, goldenrod, Joe-Pye weed, ornamental grasses, sea holly, sedum, and sunflowers. And delight in the sight of birds filling their bellies instead.
Don’t Trash Leaves
Leaves are one of the greatest sources of organic matter. Period. And they contain valuable nutrients and micronutrients. And they’re free! So rather than toss them in the trash, put them to good use in the lawn and garden. Use a mulching mower to grind them into fine pieces to enrich the soil. Shred them and add a two- to four-inch layer to flower and veggie gardens. To learn more, check out my blog, “Turning Trash into Treasure.”
The term “dead head” (originally two words) was first used in 1841 to describe someone who was admitted to the theater without paying. It wasn’t used to describe the removal of flowers until 1950. 
Don’t Work Wet Soil
One of the worst things you can do is work the soil while it’s wet. And the negative effects of doing so can last for years.

Working wet soil results in compaction, which is the enemy of plants. That’s because it packs soil particles tightly together, leaving less room for water and air to reach plant roots. And as the soil dries, it forms clumps of soil that become hard as rocks.

Knowing when it’s safe to work the soil is simple. Grab a handful and form it into a ball. If it crumbles easily in your hand, it’s good to go. If it remains in a ball, it’s not.
Don’t Forget to Water
This is more of a do than a don’t do, but I include it here because it’s something too many people don’t do.

Failing to water in winter can be disastrous for plants, and the damage may not be visible until the following spring or summer. Dormant plants aren’t dead, and their roots require moisture to survive. That’s true of all plants, and it’s especially true of evergreens. So if we have a dry winter, water once in December and again in January, soaking everything in sight, including the lawn. Choose a day when temps are say 50 or above.
Don’t Forget the Birds
In addition to letting flowering plants go to seed, supplement birds’ diets by setting out seed and suet feeders. Birds need more food in winter to stay warm, especially since natural food supplies are less plentiful.
Don’t Forget to Garden!
Okay, so this one is pretty obvious, but I bring it up because now is a great time to plant, most soils have dried sufficiently following recent rains, and the weekend weather forecast looks absolutely perfect for getting out in the garden.
Also, Don't Forget Pansies!
Fresh in bloom! Pansies are here to paint your garden with vibrant hues. Get yours and add a pop of color to your outdoor space.
Shop Pansies
Coming Next Week -- Creating a New Garden
Now is a great time to start a new garden so that when spring arrives, you’ll be ready to dig in! Next week Paul will share tips and tricks for doing just that,
Benefit Holiday Party
Thursday, November 16th
Join us for a Heartwarming Benefit Holiday Event on November 16th, from 4 PM to 7 PM! Indulge in delectable food and drinks, groove to live music, and be part of something wonderful.🍽️ For just $10, you're spreading cheer - $5 goes to The Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless. Discover our enchanting holiday collection and unwrap special promotions! Come, celebrate the season of giving with us!
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Garden Tip of the Week

Don’t forget to remove dirt from metal gardening tools after each use to prevent the formation of rust.

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