Gardening with Jennifer Brennan

Tomyann Ellquist Guenther -- When should we plant our potted mums for next year?
Plant now, before the ground freezes solidly, but since it is late, mulch over the root area with coarse sand 4 inches deep to prevent the root ball from frost heaving out of the ground over winter during thawing periods.

Loren Allen -- Can I still plant bulbs?
Yes, daffodils first then tulips. Water them well to trigger the root formation.Props: bulbs= tulips, daffodils; bulb fert; repellents = repellex, Natura tablets.

Can I plant perennial seeds?
Yes, this is the perfect time because the seeds need to be "vernalized" = cold treated to break down the hormones over winter allowing the seeds to germinate next Spring when the weather is good for growing. Props: Prairie Future Seeds packet.

What can I do to my vegetable garden so I do not get any weeds next year. I have not planted for 2 years because it is just over whelming.
Plan to mulch next year after planting, if you are not planting seeds in the garden (start them early in smaller pots and then transplant) then use corn gluten meal in April. It is safe.

Lorrie Kakida Six --- What to do about asparagus plants that bloomed in the Spring. Now that it's the end of the season...I assume I cut far? Do I need to cover ground?
Cut it back to the ground now, it is not necessary to cover the ground, but an organically based mulch (two inches deep) would add organic matter for the next growing season. My favorite is cotton burr mulch. Props: pruning shears.

Te Johnson -- Do I do anything special for perennials that are potted? Their leaves have turned brown.
Potted perennials may not survive in pots above ground here in Chicagoland. It is best to bury the pots up to the rim in the garden. Cut the brown leaves off, leaving a one to two-inch stems. Mulch over the plants after three nights in a row of 20-degree temperatures. Leave until April, then dig out the pots, start watering and feritilizing. New growth will start again. Props: potted container with dormant plants (bring from home).

Karen Naureckas Christiansen-- What can I do for my Endless Summer hydrangeas to make sure they bloom next year? Only 2 of my 6 plants bloomed.
It is best to mulch the base of the plant with six to eight inches of top-soil and eight more inches of leaf mulch. It is also good to additionally make a chicken wire cage around the plant and fill with chunk bark. This protects the flower buds that form from last year's woody stems. If not protected the stems die back to the ground. The new growth that forms from the root system will not make flower buds. Props: chicken wire cage and chunk bark.

Alex Mendoza -- I have hybrid roses. I wasn't able to plant them deep enough in summer, I have covered (piled up above) the graft portion with dirt and then mulch will this be enough protection in winter?
We recommend 8 inches of soil and another 6-8 inches of leaf mulch on top of the soil. Rose collars help hold the soil in place during thawing temperatures and rainy conditions. If the roses were just planted this year, use Wilt-Pruf to spray the stems. Props: Rose collar, top soil and Wilt-Pruf.

Laurie Ellis --- How do I keep the squirrels from digging up my tulip bulbs?
Props: Repellex, Natura tablets with Bitrex or Plant Skydd spray or granules. Sprinkle over the ground where the bulbs are planted – the granules last 6-8 weeks, the tablets last 18 months.

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