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.