October 30, 2003 at 1:14 p.m.
Water your trees at least six to eight inches deep and allow the soil to dry out some between applications. Most tree roots are not very deep and the deep roots will receive water if enough water is applied to the soil surface. Be careful not to over-water established trees and avoid applying water directly to the trunk.
Avoid frequent light watering since it promotes the development of shallow root systems. Remember––the tree roots extend away from the tree at least as far as the tree is tall, and in most cases much farther.
Take a good look at your deciduous trees; those are the ones that are not evergreen. Mark any trees or branches that need to be removed because they are diseased or otherwise damaged, or to improve the structure of the tree. In my orchard there are some trees that need to be replaced either because they are stressed or because I no longer want that variety of apple. So, I marked those trees with a piece of twine to help remind me which trees to remove. I realize that if you are going to remove trees it doesn't matter when you do it.
Remember, if you are going to prune fruit trees, it should be done during the dormant season. The best time to prune apple trees is in February and March.
I got a couple of calls last week about winterizing roses. I know very little about roses so I called another master gardener. One call was about hybrid tea roses. I'm sorry to carry the bad news but they need to be buried. If there are any diseased or infested leaves or branches, they need to be removed. Take a strong string or twine and tie the bush ends together. Dig a trench and lay it down covering the entire plant to a depth of four to five inches. Don't dig up the roots even though some ends of the roots may be damaged when you bend it over. This should be done now regardless of how well they may be blooming. Unprotected plants may be damaged or killed if the temperatures drop below 20 degrees.
Next spring one may consider planting hardy shrub roses. There are many varieties to choose from, including climbers and fragrant varieties that bloom repeatedly. Plus, there isn't any work preparing them for the winter. Just rake some leaves over the roots after the ground has been frozen.
You may have already cleaned up your garden and you may have already saved seeds. The last couple of years I have saved seeds from giant marigolds, zinnias, bee balm, etc. In the spring I would use those seeds again but only the zinnias and marigolds came up. I talked with another master gardener who said that you can do that with annuals. The marigolds and the zinnias seeded because they are annuals.
In order for the perennials to reseed, I need to stratify the seeds. I don't know how to do that either, but I intend to find out.
Last time I wrote that fall bearing raspberries can be pruned back after fruiting but research has shown that winter or early spring is the best time to prune. This is because the nutrients stored in the canes are re-absorbed by the roots.
I have received more calls on raspberries than in the past several years. The majority of my raspberries are Heritage, which is a fall bearing variety. If I don't cut them down in the fall, they are flat on the ground by spring. I cut them about four inches from the ground.
I'm still trying different things each year. Last fall I raked the canes from two of the rows because I have some cane borer, which is not unusual for an old patch. Then I covered the rows with three to four inches of shredded leaves. In the spring I left the leaves in the rows and the raspberries grew through much like strawberries do with a straw covering. I can't prove that is the reason those two rows are my healthiest plants, but with all the root damage due to the type of winter we had, it could be.
I also have summer berries which I must treat differently. If I would cut them to the ground, I wouldn't get any berries next summer. The best time to prune them is in the spring. At that time I will prune out any old and dead canes and the new growth I will prune back to about waist height or higher. I'm still debating if I want to put shredded leaves around my summer bearing plants. If we have winter-like weather, it may help. If we have lots of snow, it may be a nice home for critters.