Winter’s coming …again!

I’m not ready for winter! It doesn’t seem possible that it’s November. I’m not ready for long pants or a jacket, and I definitely am not ready to start cleaning up leaves. I suppose I’ll get over it, but I won’t be happy about it.

Two weeks ago there was one night that dropped below freezing, but soon after daytime temperatures soared back into the seventies, and it hasn’t been particularly cold until the last four or five days. The cold night pushed me to bring the tropical bananas and elephant ears inside, but the ones that are planted in the ground were left to wither in the cold, then the roots will be dug and stored in the garage until May.

I covered the large swimming pond with a net a few days before the hurricane was due to arrive. For me, putting on the net is the unofficial end of the garden season, and I avoid it for as long as possible. But, there were plenty of leaves on the maples and tulip poplars that loom over the garden, and if the net hadn’t gone on when it did the pond would be filled with leaves today. Then, there’d be a huge mess to clean up in the spring, and that would be much worse a chore.

I will probably begin cleaning up leaves this weekend. Most of this will be accomplished with a leaf blower that pushes them into piles, then they are vacuumed and shredded. Most are left in place to mulch the garden, though in some spots there are too many for this, so I bag the shredded leaves to haul to cover other parts of the garden where leaves are not so thick. A few bags will go onto the compost pile.

The leaf clean up project will last for several weeks, and even then it is only partially accomplished so that another weekend or two in March are necessary to clean up the last of them. I tell myself that I’ll get around to the last of the leaves on warm days in February, but last winter there were a dozen of these days and I didn’t do a thing. I’m much more productive when there’s an imminent consequence to delaying any further, and in March I know that hostas and other perennials are emerging from their winter nap, and if the leaves are not gone soon there will be problems.

Once the ponds are covered and the worst of the leaves are cleaned up my work is mostly done until late winter. I’ll be watching this year to get a jump on removing winter weeds before they grow too large and go to seed. With the oddly warm temperatures last January and February weeds were growing vigorously when perennials began to emerge in mid March, so the task of removing the weeds was complicated and delayed and many went to seed before they could be pulled. I expect a bumper crop of weeds this winter, and I’m determined not to end up with the mess I had in early spring. The key is to get them while they’re small, before the weeds are fully rooted, and of course before they go to seed.

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3 thoughts on “Winter’s coming …again!

  1. You may not be mentally ready but it sure sounds like your physical preps are buttoned down!
    I know what you mean about those last few hours of leaf cleanup in spring…I always work best when I’m eager to plant again! Until then I procrastinate BIGTIME!

  2. Due to late seasonal visits from local fauna we have been reluctant to place a net over our pond…would hate to walk by and notice a bird, turtle, toad or snake stuck in the netting…or see it tangled around a visiting heron or one of the many deer that live on our property…as such, we spend many, many hours mucking out leaves…have you had any mishaps with your netting? or do you have suggestions as to size and placement? btw, thank you for such interesting posts and tips…I find much inspiration and information in your blog.

    • I was walking down to the large pond a few days after I put the net on, and noticed a heron flying off. The pond is too deep and the sides too steep for heron to fish (since they stand in the water), so I figure he just dropped in to investigate. I’ve had problems with herons eating fish in my smaller ponds in the past, but I’ve never had a problem with anything getting snagged in the net. A coworker protects his shallower pond from herons by stringing fishing line across the pond just above the water level, and he has had a heron tangled in the line, though it escaped without apparent injury.

      I’ve considered the potential for having a heron tangled in the net, but my priority has been to avoid a big clean up of leaves, so my concern was lessened. Then, I haven’t had a problem, so I suppose that herons tread carefully, or perhaps they can see the net. When I install the netting I run cables across the pond so that most of the net is suspended just above the water, and at the edges it is several inches above so that frogs are able to come and go. On the smaller ponds I stretch the netting across and anchor it at the edges with rocks. I’ve gotten too lazy to cover all of the five ponds, so a couple are left open so any neighborhood critters can drink from it.

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