Help Perennials Survive The Winter

You may live in a part of the country where you need to help perennials survive the winter.  Winter can be hard on perennials, particularly the farther you live in the colder zones of the US.  Carol Galligan has written an article that is both informative and a help in doing the best you can to help perennials survive the winter.  They can experience significant damage during the winter, to the extent that some plants may not be able to survive the bitter cold.  Carol tells the reader the kind of problems perennials have in surviving the winter.

Help perennials survive the winter with this.

Help perennials survive the winter with this.

The damage to plants that occurs in winter has its origins usually in one of two sources: either severe cold or loss of moisture. If the cold is severe enough, the plant material will actually freeze, which means that cell tissue will break down. Twigs, branches, stems or roots can be damaged to the point that the plant will die.

Carol gives the reader some idea of how to protect plants from the severe cold.  Wouldn’t you know.  The way to protect plants from the cold is the way we protect ourselves from the cold.  You’ll need to lend a hand to your perennials, but just as you would cover up, you need to cover them up as well.  Carol is careful to note that you don’t want to inflict any damage to your plants in the covering up process.  You may have seen plants covered up with burlap wraps during the winter.  That’s the idea.  And, Carol suggests another–baby blankets, usually because they’re light weight.  Here’s what Carol has to say about the loss of moisture issue.

.  . . evaporation continues at a slow rate during the winter. In order to supply moisture the roots must continue to absorb water, otherwise branches or canes will shrivel. If the condition is severe enough, large sections of the plant or the plant itself will die. The best antidote for this is heavy fall watering, if rainfall has been light; the wetter the fall, the better the chances for the plant to winter successfully.

Carol brings winter indoors by telling the reader how to get carrot tops to start sprouting.  Disjointed from the rest of her article, at least her writing brings some wonder to a world that, when winter arrives, will need some wonder.  Read Carol’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  If you live in one of those more northerly climates and you have several of your perennials exposed to the ravages of winter weather, you may need to help perennials survive the winter.


Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

Keep Plastic Out Of The Garden

There are people who believe that you should keep plastic out of the garden at all costs.  And they men anything plastic.  While Tom Atwell is not a proponent of using plastic in the garden, he does bend a little.  He has written an article about using plastic anything in the garden.  While he would advocate that you keep plastic out of the garden, he does leave a little shade of gray in what he writes.

Keep plastic out of the gardenand off your head, too!

Keep plastic out of the garden
and off your head, too!

Plastic is often seen as evil. It is derived from petroleum, and it does not decompose. Ever since Benjamin Braddock, played by Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate,” was advised that the key to his career was plastics, it has symbolized everything phony. But plastic has a place in the garden, even organic gardens. It’s a question of balance – whether using the material does more good than harm.

Tom takes a relativistic rather than absolutistic position on the use of plastic in the garden.  Tom doesn’t like the words “always” or “never” when it comes to using plastic in the garden.  As long as there is more good to be gained than harm to occur from the use of plastic, Tom is for it.  Tom cites Eric Sideman, organic crop specialist with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, when he talks about the benefit of a certain type of plastic in the garden.

Sideman cited floating row cover – Reemay is the best-known brand name – as an example.Because it keeps plants warm and prevents harmful insects from landing on them, “you reduce the amount of pesticides used,” he said, “and you can get a crop over a much longer season,” which extends consumers’ opportunities to buy local.

Tom writes in his article, that you can find by clicking here or on the link below, that floating row covers, high tunnels made of plastic and black plastic mulch would be acceptable kinds of plastic to use in the garden.  However, Tom is adamant about not using black plastic for ground cover in certain conditions.  In that case, he would argue vehemently to keep plastic out of the garden.  Read his article to find out why he is so opposed to its use in a particular situation.


Photo by MissMessie

Fall Display In Large Array

Now is the time to see the fall display in large array. You are fortunate if you have several acres planted in trees, because this time of the year finds them in glorious color.   Most of us aren’t that fortunate, and our gardening space doesn’t allow for the luxury of planting many trees or shrubs, just for the same of enjoying them through the year, and especially in the fall.  Alan Titchmarsh writes that it is time to leave our gardens behind, because the fall display in large array beckons us enjoy fall’s vast color show.

The katsura tree is part of the fall display in large array.

The katsura tree is part of the fall display in large array.

Huge stately gardens have acres of space in which to show off long borders filled with glorious spreading perennials such as cimicifuga, golden rod and tall traditional Michaelmas daisies that are simply not practical to accommodate in a pocket-hanky plot.

Meanwhile their surrounding parklands are awash with vast trees that put on the fieriest displays of autumn colours which grow far too big for domestic gardens.

Alan writes for a gardening audience in Great Britain, so his references for places to go to view the fall palate of colors is for the reader in his country.  However, there are numerous places in the US that are traditionally the places to go to observe fall color.  What is interesting to US readers of Alan’s article, though, is the variety of trees about which he writes and which can be found in the US as well.  I’m not sure about this one, though, but it sounds like I would want to find.

My all-time favourite is the katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum). You’ll smell it before you see it. The cast-off leaves that pile up underneath generate a delicious aroma of candyfloss or burnt sugar. They always remind me of toffee apples. The autumn colour is pretty spectacular too, a riot of smoky pinks and buttery yellows.

Alan writes of several other trees, including the Japanese maple.  There are several varieties, and I like the almost dwarf maple with very delicate maroon leaves.  You can read the rest of Alan’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  He writes about several interesting trees that create the fall display in large array.  I especially would like to find the  swamp cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) that Alan writes is known for its “knobbly knees”.  You’ll enjoy reading about this oddity.



Photo by elias_daniel

Don’t Stop Gardening In The Fall

If you know what to plant and how to do it, you don’t stop gardening in the fall.  Jim Roth has written an article about how he continues to harvest produce from his garden through the fall.  He notes that he has had a bountiful harvest during the summer, but he notes that if you transition into the seasons, you don’t have to stop gardening in the fall.

Don't stop gardening in the fall.   Among other things, plant kale.

Don’t stop gardening in the fall.
Among other things, plant kale.

Fall is here, and in the spirit of gardening, it is important to keep your garden productive during seasonal transitions. . .Here are some tips to maintain maximum productivity. Grow cool-weather vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chives, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes and spinach.

Jim shares several other tips in his article besides what to grow.  He notes that no less than the U.S. Department of Agriculture has affirmed the importance of home grown produce.  There are many reasons to grow your own food, among them saving money and raising food that you know what went into it.  Jim recommends getting the most bang for your buck.

Planting a garden can harvest savings, but the key to harvesting a greener pocket is planting the right vegetables. Some foods like onions and potatoes are so inexpensive to buy that they aren’t worth planting. However, the cost of some foods like lettuce, cherry tomatoes, peas and some herbs can all add up at the checkout counter. The key to a money-saving harvest is to select vegetables that you enjoy eating and that grow easily without much work.

Jim also seems to enjoy throwing winter parties at which he can brag about the produce having come from his garden.  Why not be proud of that.  Read the rest of Jim’s article by clicking here or on the link below for other thoughts about why you don’t need to stop gardening in the fall.  There are lots of ways of extending the gardening season even through the winter with covered hoop houses.  If you live in the northern part of the USA, have you had any success keeping vegetables from your garden on your table all winter long?


Photo by SweetOnVeg

Where Chicago Gardens Grow

You may be surprised to learn where Chicago gardens grow.  For all the hoopla about community gardening and how important community gardens are, the results of a study reported by Melissa Wiley may surprise you.  She writes about doctoral candidate John Taylor and Sarah Taylor Lovell who did a study of gardening space using Google earth to find out where Chicago gardens grow.  The beginning of Melissa’s article sums up the findings nicely.

Do you know where Chicago gardens grow?

Do you know where Chicago gardens grow?

Most of Chicago’s agriculture is right in your own backyard. The results of a study mapping the city’s garden plots via Google Earth found that community gardening and urban farms account for only 13 percent of all Chicago husbandry, while home gardens in backyards and vacant lots outnumber them threefold.

The study found some other interesting information, such as where there was a higher concentration of gardening in different neighborhoods.  A fact that rather surprised me was that a large percentage of the community gardens were not producing food.  One of the primary reasons for developing community gardens was to provide food for the more needy and also to develop a sense of community among people in a neighborhood.

Taylor uploaded lists provided to him from myriad nongovernmental organizations into Google Earth and found that of the 1,236 community gardens he was told existed, only 160 produced any fruits or vegetables. He conducted further Google Earth searches for genuine food-production sites and, eight months later, identified 4,648 urban agriculture sites—most residential gardens no more than 50 square feet.

So, it’s still the backyard garden that is producing more produce than the large community gardens.  You can read the rest of Melissa’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  You will find interesting information about where Chicago gardens grow within the city of Chicago, in what neighborhoods you are more likely to find gardens than others.


Photo by cherrylet

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