Mother Nature has provided us with a blanket of beautiful white snow, but something breaking up that monotone color pallet is lingering winter berries from some of the trees, shrubs, and vines in our landscape.
Native trees, shrubs, and vines that commonly maintain some of their berries into the winter months include: American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens L.), Wild Grape (Vitis riparia), Hawthorns (Crataegus sp.), Black Chokeberry (Aronia sp.), Elderberry (Sambucus sp.), Mountain Ash (Sorbus Americana), and High-bush Cranberry (Viburnum sp). In addition, many introduced nursery industry plants also tend to hold berries into the winter months, such as the flowering crabs, and barberries.
Our landscapes have taken a new look, one of beautiful color to one of bare trees and lawns covered in leaves. This is the time to do our fall chores and clean-up those leaves from our lawns. Leaf cover can cause turf grass damage by smothering the grass, and creating an environment more susceptible to “snow mold”. The fungi that cause snow mold thrive in moist, cool environments, and therefore fall is the time to remove the leaves from our lawns to help prevent snow mold in the spring.
The leaves can be utilized in several ways, one is composting. Leaves can be added to a compost pile with other lawn clippings, non-woody plant trimmings, yard waste, etc. Shredding leaves is not required, but will speed up the process of decomposition. Compost piles composed of only leaves will require an extra source of nitrogen, such as commercial fertilizer, or materials high in nitrogen to assist with the decomposition.
The crisp weather of fall, along with end of season garden produce, can result in a delicious large kettle of homemade soup. Reheated, soup makes a convenient lunch or evening meal. It is easy and economical to make healthy soups by controlling the fat and sodium content.
Preparing a large batch of soup can present a food-safety challenge – cooling. One of the leading causes of foodborne illness is the failure to properly cool foods.
For seasonal homeowners, closing a septic system for the winter helps prevent the system from freezing, prolongs the life of the system, and keeps it operating at a high level. Doug Malchow, University of Minnesota Extension Water Resource Management Educator, has some tips to consider when preparing your cabin’s septic system for the winter months.
Preparing the Drainfield
• Stop cutting the grass over the drainfield in mid-September; the extra grass length will capture snow, which provides insulation. Consider placing snow fence near the drainfield to help capture drifting snow on the drainfield to add to the natural insulating blanket of snow.
• Make sure all inspection pipes have covers to keep cold air from flowing into the drainfield pipes.
(Water trees and perennials)
Trees and other perennial plants are visibly stressed this fall primarily because of drought conditions from the past two or more years. Tree stress symptoms include abundant seed production, leaf scorch, early fall colors, leaf drop, limb die back and yellowing or browning of leaves/needles. Trees and shrubs, especially conifer trees and trees and shrubs planted in the last three years should be watered generously until the soil freezes. Mulching newly planted trees will help reduce winter root damage.
Young maples and thinned-barked trees may benefit from some kind of sunscald protection to prevent the bark from cracking this winter and spring. This protection is usually in the form of a plastic tube or tree wrap (remove in spring). These practices can also help in reducing winter animal damage. Other fall management practices which will help reduce winter damage to trees and shrubs can be found at http://z.umn.edu/winterdamage.