Winter Wind Down

OK, tribal members, we’re into mid-November and the grass has slowed its growth to a crawl…but it’s still growing!  And the majority of the leaves have fallen, with the exception of the damned pears.  They’ll probably hang on another 3 weeks.  Yet another reason to cut them down.

Don’t put away the mower just yet!  Be the lawn stud that mows into December!  Seriously folks, it’s almost easier to chop your leaves into little pieces than it is to rake them up or blow them away.  Like we wrote a few weeks ago, dried leaves are virtually all carbon.  Shredding carbon on turf is a great way to feed the microbes, reduce thatch (if present), and increase the organic matter of soil (barely, but still).  The key to this is to avoid smothering the lawn.  Keeping the grass nice and tight into December will actually increase the speed at which it greens up next spring!  When the heat returns in March, a closely cropped lawn will green up much faster than a long, shaggy turf!  Plus, a tightly cropped lawn won’t snag as many leaves through the winter months.  Those blowing leaves can make it clear through your sward, and accumulate in your neighbor’s goat pasture.

If you’re applying Platinum Step 8, the premium slow release nitrogen, go ahead and get it down, if you haven’t already.  There is no burn potential with this product, so apply it sooner than later, even if you were late with your October application with “regular nitrogen.”

Here are two great small trees, if you’re thinking about planting something.

Eastern Flowering Dogwood (Cornus floridus): we needn’t show you their gorgeous spring floral display, but their fall color is an added bonus.  Too many people plant dogwoods in hot, sunny climes, and they suffer.  Don’t put a dogwood in a spot that receives direct sun in the afternoon.  They love morning sun and afternoon shade.  They’ll do great in bright shade all day long, too.  The other key to success with a dogwood is to keep the roots cool.  Give a dogwood a minimum of 6 ft to 8 ft of mulch.

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba):  The pawpaw is also known as the “Missouri Banana!”  It’s an underused shade tolerant species that’s native to our moist woodlands.  It has highly desired, edible fruits, ranging in size from a keywe to a peach, dependent upon the cultivar.  They are best eaten fresh or used in deserts, particularly “custard recipes.”  There are nearly a dozen cultivars from which to choose, in addition to the native species–and the cultivars have different “flavors”.  The fruits ripen in early fall and you’ll have to battle the freakin squirrels and even deer, to catch them at the peak of ripeness.  Pawpaw trees are small to medium in size (up to 30 ft tall) and they have a very nice layered structure.  In summer, the leaves are large and lustrous green, and fall color is a nice yellow.  Like the dogwood, the pawpaw hates direct sun in the hot afternoon.  Learn more about the pawpaw at this website:  the pawpaw

paw paw tree

Jeff’s favorite nursery is Forrest Keeling Nursery, up in Elsberry, MO (Highway 79).  They have numerous cultivars of both the dogwood and the pawpaw.

Tell them we sent you!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Bill & Jeff