What the heck do you do with this weather?

smom40(5MO)December 29, 2004

I'm seriously tripping over here. New to the midwest (st louis west county) from CA and wowza can the weather change! Last week, it was one of those "14 feels like 6" periods...and by the end of this week will hit the 60's...@@

I'm looking at my plants and trees and just crossing my fingers. How can these things take such roller coaster temp extremes without croaking? And I cannot believe that the rhodie out front is still green. Bizarre!

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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Hi smom,

I feel for you. I relocated here from the tropics. I had to relearn everything and after gardening here for 16+ years, I thought I pretty much knew almost everything about gardening.

Guess what? I went to Southern CA last March after the last visit in the 70's, I was totally disoriented. I recognized only about 10 - 15% of the plants/shrubs/trees I saw and wouldn't know beans if I had to garden in that climate.

Plants are resilient. If you chose the ones listed as hardy in your zone or hardier, they will do fine. You'll be surprised comes spring.

Best of luck & Happy New Year!

P.S. To answer your question, you just go with what the weather gives you. I was playing with my compost piles and building raised beds until a week ago when a flu struck me and been cooping up indoors, but it is warming up now and might go out to check my compost piles and the garden. But maybe not today yet, because it will not seem right to call in sick from work then go play in the garden....LOL.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 1:05PM
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cantstopgardening(Zone 4/5 WI)

pitimpinai- glad you're feeling better!!

smom40- welcome!!

I'm taking advantage of the warmer weather to scrounge old Christmas trees. I trim the branches off, and use those as a protective mulch. It keeps my plants from breaking dormancy too early in the spring, and prevents 'frost-heave,' where the freeze-thaw action in the soil works the recently-established plants out of the ground.

Advantages of waiting till after Christmas to mulch are 1: free trees available 2. mice have already found their winter homes elsewhere, so less chance of rodent damage to dormant perennials.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 2:36PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Thanks, cantstop.

I am itching to go out, really. Might just dump my kitchen scraps then hurry back. It is too tempting to wander in the garden.

I have not mulched much these past two winters because I am using all the bagged leaves to surround my potted pricy Allium 'Globemaster'....hee..hee..

I grouped those pots by my house wall on the back patio, then placed over 20 bags of leaved around and on top.

The rest of my garden is left to its own device. If the plants survive, good for them, if not, they shouldn't have been planted anyway. .....surprisingly I have not lost any well established plants.

Take heart, smom. Your garden will be fine.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 3:16PM
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Smom, you'd be surprised how hardy plants revive by spring. One month they look dead and a couple months later green sprouts pop out.
If you get home sick for tropcials, purchase houseplants. I've over 400 which makes my winters, (which I detest) more pleasant..Toni

    Bookmark   December 30, 2004 at 12:52AM
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pmkgero1(z5b IL)

I'm on the Illinois side of St Louis and my Daffs are thinking of coming up. Recycling Christmas trees is a great idea. I'm running out of leaves for coverage and telling the Spring bulbs to stay down is not working!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 2:59PM
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I planted a bunch of bulbs and now I'm nervous. It was over SEVENTY today! @@ I'm looking at those areas and thinking 'stay down...stay down'....

And yes, I'm disoriented here. The trees and shrubs are mostly unrecognizable. And when so much was brown in the fall, I'm like WTH is THAT? *squinting* I saw some calibrochia...some cyclamen...and boxwood for days when I got here..but the rest? *shrugging* Makes me feel like a dunce.

But put me in No CA and I'm like "thazza that and thazza this"...

You guys just gave me an idea for my Christmas tree. I always take it down on New Year's Day. I think that I'll be recycling just the trunk and trimming off those branches for the bulb areas in the back yard. Forget those foundation plants, save the irises! LOL

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 6:41PM
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cantstopgardening(Zone 4/5 WI)

Just a little side story on irises. One late autumn, I scrounged some pieces of iris rhizome from the compost facility when I made a late deposit of branches. When I got home, I set one of the iris pieces down on top of the camper 'just for a minute.' Next time I saw it was early March, and it was frozen solid to the top of the camper. A couple of weeks later, I walked past, saw it was no longer frozen to the top, and flicked it to the ground, assuming it was gone. Two weeks after that, it was sprouting. It's been moved to a place of honor in my yard, bloomed the following year. A beautiful lavender in daytime, but in dusk, it's the most exquisite blue. What a tough little plant!

(Unfortunately, some of the other rhizomes had iris borer, probably why they were at the compost facility in the first place, so I'm working that pest back out of my yard. But, when I get rid of the borers, this lavendar/blue beauty will be my first trade. It's worth it.)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 8:46PM
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Wow! That's one tough plant! LOL I'd give it a place of honor too! :)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 9:26PM
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