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Vermont Garden Journal: Fall Chores

Betsy Blaney
Now is also a good time to chop down annual weeds, such as pigweed (pictured), so they don't drop more seed in the soil.

This time of year it's easy to pull out the remaining veggies, cut back your perennial flowers, clean out containers, clap your hands and say, “That's it, I'm done”! But wait. There are some other fall chores to do that will make life a lot easier come spring.

When cleaning up the veggie and annual flower garden I use an old technique that's back in fashion. On those plants that were not pest infested, instead of pulling out the whole broccoli, pepper, eggplant, zinnia, or other large plants, I just cut them to the ground instead. Leaving the roots to slowly decay in the soil creates water and air channels for next year's plants.

Now is also a good time to chop down annual weeds, such as galinsoga and pigweed, so they don't drop more seed in the soil. Also, pull out perennial weeds, such as dandelions, plantain, and quack grass so they don't get a head start on you next spring. Of course, you can be eating some of these weeds as you go.

Finally, if you're planting a new garden with perennial flowers, shrubs or trees, consider not using landscape fabric. Recent research has shown that air and water don't penetrate the fabric well, stressing plants. The fabrics last longer when the sun is blocked from them. But laying organic or inorganic mulches on top provides a perfect place for weeds to germinate and weave their roots into the fabric. Also, perennial weeds, such as horsetail, will eventually find their way through the fabric either in the holes you cut to plant or just by traveling around the fabric. It's best to use a thick layer of wood chips or bark mulch instead to control weeds.

And now for this week's tip, if you and your kids are carving pumpkins for Halloween, to get the pumpkins to last longer, rub Vaseline on the carving cuts to reduce the water loss. The pumpkin faces will stay plump and ghoulish.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about what to do with fallen leaves. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Broadcast on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi is made possible by Gardener's Supply, offering environmental solutions for gardens and landscapes. In Burlington, Williston and

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Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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