Garden calendar: Week of Oct. 14-20

2012-10-14T11:00:00Z Garden calendar: Week of Oct. 14-20Lisa Johnson, Dane County UW Extension horticulture educator madison.com

Perennials: Remove foliage from iris species or cut it back to about 3 inches for winter. This removes any pests that may be overwintering in the foliage. After the first hard freeze cut back the “die-back shrubs” such as Russian sage, False blue spirea (Caryopteris) and butterfly bush (Buddleia) to about 18 inches in height. This preserves many buds that may produce new branches in spring, but protects the plants from branch breakage in heavy wet snows. You may also want to put a light winter mulch of clean straw around the base of butterfly bushes if they are newly planted this season to protect the crowns.

Vegetables: A light fall frost makes chard, spinach, and many mustard-family crops (cole crops) taste sweeter, so enjoy the harvest. You can use floating row covers or cold frames to further prolong the harvest. Also, this is a good time to plant garlic bulbs. Many garden centers and catalogs have good selections.

Choose large, firm heads of cloves and break them into individual cloves. The bigger the clove, the stronger the resulting plant will be. Plant them about five inches apart and two inches deep with the pointy ‘nose’ end facing up. Mulch lightly with straw. Garlic prefers well-drained, rich organic soil; it will not do well in heavy clay.

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