Asparagus and rhubarb are traditionally transplanted in mid-March through mid-April. However, they can be moved successfully in the fall if you wait until the tops have turned brown.
After the frost hits and the asparagus and rhubarb tops turn brown, cut them back to the ground and prepare the soil as you would for spring planting. Water well and add mulch to the rhubarb so the roots do not heave out of the soil during winter. Since asparagus is planted deeper it does not require mulch. (Cynthia Domenghini)
Here are K-State resources for more detail on
and rhubarb: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/ep99.pdf
With October upon us and cooler evening temperatures, the tomato harvest is slowing down. Remaining tomatoes can be left on the vine to ripen to give them the best flavor. However, harvest all tomatoes in advance of an impending frost.
Green tomatoes that are full-sized and have a white, star-shaped section on the bottom of the fruit have reached the “mature green stage”. They can be harvested and placed in a paper bag to continue ripening.
Tomatoes with blemishes or cracks in the skin should be discarded to avoid contaminating others. Store ripe tomatoes on cardboard trays with newspaper between layers if stacked. If possible, keep the temperature close to 55 degrees F. Check periodically for rotting and remove tomatoes as needed. (Cynthia Domenghini)
Peppers from the garden can last for several weeks stored in the fridge especially if they are kept moist. They can also be frozen for longer term storage. Cut the peppers into slices or chunks and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze for one hour. This is called “flash freezing”. The pepper pieces can now be stored in a freezer bag and won’t stick together in a clump. Although frozen peppers may be soft or even mushy when defrosted, they maintain their flavor and work great for cooking. (Cynthia Domenghini)
Some people believe taller grass in the winter provides insulation for the plant crowns protecting them through freezing temperatures. If this practice provides any benefit it loses value due to the negative issues that can arise as the tall blades fall over creating a matted environment perfect for winter diseases.
The best practice for preparing turf for winter is provide adequate care and ensure your plants are healthy. This requires action year-round including fertilizing, watering and mowing. Follow recommendations for the variety of turf you are growing, but overall, maintaining the proper height throughout the year is best.
Here is a list of the recommended mowing height ranges (in inches) for home lawns in Kansas:
Tall fescue: 2.5 -3.5
Kentucky bluegrass: 2-3
(Note: Mowing at heights below 1.5 inches requires a reel mower).
It may be beneficial to adjust mowing height within these recommendations at specific times. For example, warm-season grasses may be mowed taller during late summer and early fall so they can store more carbohydrates for the winter. It may also help to reduce the occurrence of cool-weather diseases. However, this height is still within the recommendation. (Cynthia Domenghini)
Although sand is sometimes suggested as an amendment for clay soil, problems can arise if the proportions of sand to clay are not correct. Clay soil has small pore spaces while sand has large pore spaces. When mixed together, the clay soil particles fill in the pore spaces of the sand. The resulting soil is denser with less pore space than before, resembling concrete.
To effectively amend clay soil with sand, at least 80% of the mix would have to be sand which is impractical and cost prohibitive. Alternatively, organic matter can be incorporated to clay soil for much better results. (Cynthia Domenghini)
Fall is a great time to prepare the soil for spring gardening. With drier fall weather, the soil is less likely to clump when it is tilled. Any clumps that do form will break down over the winter as the soil freezes and thaws leaving behind soil that’s ready to plant in the spring.
Working the soil in the fall also breaks down debris contributing organic matter back into the garden. Debris provides a habitat for diseases and insects. Tilling it into the soil disrupts the habitat and prevents pests from overwintering and wreaking havoc on next year’s crops.
When adding organic matter into the soil follow the general rule of incorporating two-inches of organic matter to the surface and till it in. Leaves and garden waste can be mowed first to cut it into smaller pieces that will break down more quickly. Well-tilled soil should have pellet-sized particles. Use caution not to over till the soil and turn it into dust. (Cynthia Domenghini)
If your spring-blooming ornamentals are flowering this time of year it is likely the result of the hot, dry weather causing stress on the plants.
Some ornamentals are categorized as “re-bloomers” such as irises. These plants are intended to have a second bloom during the growing season. Regardless of the reason for fall flowering, the number of blooms is likely sparse and not going to affect the spring bloom. (Cynthia Domenghini)
Planting garlic (Allium sativum) in the fall allows the cloves to go through a chilling period which is important for bulb and flower growth. October is a good time to plant because the cloves can begin to develop roots and shoots before freezing weather arrives.
Purchase large, mature garlic bulbs from a reputable grower rather than the grocery store. Separate the bulb into individual cloves just before planting. Larger cloves tend to yield larger bulbs at harvest. Mix three pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet into the soil prior to planting. If a soil test is available, fertilize according to those recommendations. Plant each clove one to two-inches deep spaced six-inches apart with the pointed end of the clove up. Water the cloves in well and apply a layer of mulch to insulate the soil.
Bulbs should be ready to harvest next summer when the lower third of the foliage is yellow. Carefully dig one area to check the bulbs for maturity. The bulbs are ready for harvest when the cloves are beginning to separate.
Kansas’ climate is suitable for growing a variety of garlic types. Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum) has a milder garlic flavor. Varieties of Allium sativum that are good options include: Inchelium Red, Chesnok Red, Armenian, Music, Purple Glazer, Carpathian Mountain, Metechi, China Strip, Ajo Rojo, Asian Tempest and Silver White. (Cynthia Domenghini)
Cynthia Domenghini runs the Horticulture Response Center in the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources at Kansas State University. Other contributors include K-State Extension Specialists.