October 8, 1999
The days are getting shorter, there is an ever present nip in the air, and leaves crackle under your feet as you walk to the mailbox - the outdoor gardening season is coming to a close. The frigid temperatures always seem to invade too soon. For wasn't it just yesterday we were enjoying bright zinnia bouquets, garden ripe tomatoes, and the enticing scent of rose blossoms? In order to reap the same rewards from the garden next year, it is necessary to take some protective steps this fall. Roses are often at the top of gardener's list for winter protection.
Coniferous trees such as pines, spruces, firs, and cedars normally shed needles in the fall. The older, inner needles turn yellow then straw-colored to brown and drop from the tree. Depending on the tree species, the foliage on a given branch may thin progressively over one to three years. For example, spruce and fir needles also turn yellow and drop with age, but retain their needles for several years.
Spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, and crocuses, herald the arrival of spring in the Midwest. Many spring-flowering bulbs can also be forced indoors during the winter months. If properly planned, brightly colored flowers may be enjoyed indoors from January until spring.
The forcing of spring-flowering bulbs actually begins in the fall. Gardeners need good quality bulbs, a well-drained potting mix, containers, and cold-storage facilities.