We’re just a couple of days away from the official start of fall which has us looking forward to Autumn colors, decorating our front porches with pumpkins, cornstalks, and mums, and all of the fun fairs and activities that the new season has to offer.

With everything going on, it can be easy to forget about your garden, but good news! We have an updated, easy fall checklist you can reference throughout the season to make sure your yard is in its best shape before winter hits.

Be sure to stop by Van Wilgen’s for all the plants and supplies you need. We’re here to help!

FallChecklist web

“Deer Daisy was here again. I caught Daisy and her friends leaping over the stone wall this morning after enjoying breakfast in my yard.” This is what my Poppy used to tell me all the time. He would act frustrated but secretly he enjoyed seeing them leap, white-tailed, one after the other at sunrise in the garden. As much as he got pleasure from Daisy’s morning shenanigans, he would have preferred if they did not feast on Meme’s favorite hydrangeas.

Poppy did not have all the deer repellents we now have available today. He tried all sorts of home remedies; mothballs, soap shavings, bags of human hair, and metal pie tins tied to stakes.

Maybe they helped for a few days but Daisy was soon back again with her gang to do some more plant damage. If only I knew then what I know now! I could have helped keep Daisy out of the garden and my Poppy could have enjoyed watching them forage in the neighbor’s yard. (tee hee)

Daisy and her herd were creatures of habit. They found a restaurant in my Poppy’s yard they loved to eat at and they went every day. They sometimes ordered different things off the menu and feasted on Meme’s rhododendrons instead of her hydrangeas. Deer are flexible and they will eat whatever is available, even if it is not part of their regular deer diet.

Most of you probably know this but I am going to pretend that I am telling you something groundbreaking. Here it is…since deer are creatures of habit, we need to stop their habit before it even starts. In other words, don’t let your yard become their favorite restaurant. Start applying repellents before the deer start their winter foraging. Deer are extra bold in the winter because their menu choices are limited. They no longer have green grasses and wildflowers to feed on so they need to turn to woody plants. This is when we start to see the damage to our trees and shrubs.

Poppy will be happy that I am protecting my Meme’s transplanted hydrangeas with effective deer repellents. The best deer repellents contain putrescent egg solids, garlic, peppers, oils, and dried blood. Delicious! The deer really do not like the smell or taste of these products and the dried blood tricks them into thinking there is a dangerous predator in the area. If applied to your most vulnerable plants before Daisy’s gang begins feeding this winter, you may not have any problem at all. That is a pretty big promise on my part. Maybe I should rephrase and say that you may have tolerable damage this winter. That’s better.

Here is another ground-breaking secret…use more than one product. I usually recommend a liquid product combined with a granular product. A delicious recipe for success is, Liquid Fence sprayed on the plants combined with granular Deer Scram sprinkled on the ground around the plants. Deer Scram can also be successfully combined with other liquid products such as Deer Stopper and Bobbex. Switch up the menu folks so deer don’t get too used to the repellents. Remember, just because one product worked last year, does not mean it will work again this year. Deer Stopper makes a very cool product called a Barrier Ribbon. This ribbon is 100 feet long and treated with repellent. If staked 30 inches high, this can be an excellent deterrent for deer even entering your yard.

Yes, “Deer Daisy” is beautiful but so is your yard and garden. Put up the “Restaurant is Closed for the Winter” sign on your yard before Daisy and her gang make this their regular eating spot.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!

Are you having a “brain freeze” because of winter? I can definitely blame some of my “brain freezes” on the winter weather but I can also claim brain mush this time of year. I have the month of January off and my brain seems to freeze or go into a mental mush. But…I’m back at Van Wilgen’s and have begun the brain defrosting process. I am getting my mental mojo back! I hope this tip helps you to bring all of your gardening knowledge closer to the mental forefront. I know you tucked this knowledge away with your gardening tools deep into the garden shed of your brain. Let’s open the garden shed door and let some of that gardening know-how fly to the front. We all know our bodies are ready for spring. Let’s give your brain something happy to think about by focusing on Van Wilgen’s and the bounty of gardening.

BRAIN DEFROSTING TIP #1: It has been a warm winter so pay attention to your lawn. If you see tunneling or shallow “scars” in your lawn or garden, you have a Mole and/or Vole problem. The most likely culprit is Voles. They really enjoy the soft winter ground. Act fast and apply a Vole repellent such as I Must Garden’s Mole & Vole Repellent. This product applied immediately after snowmelt can save you from a big brain pain later.

BRAIN DEFROSTING TIP #2: Are you staring out the window and daydreaming about a tropical vacation while the deer eat your entire Arborvitae hedge right under your daydreaming nose? Wake up! If temporary fencing is just not your thing, at least put down some granular repellent such as Deer Scram by Epic. You can apply it right over the snow. If our temperatures are in the 40’s, get out there and spray with a deer repellent such as Liquid Fence. This way, you can spend more time staring and dreaming without a deer feast going on right outside your window.

BRAIN DEFROSTING TIP #3: The earlier, the better. Sometimes our brains can actually be ahead of our bodies. If your brain has already put on its’ gardening hat but your body is still in sluggish winter mode, it is time for your brain to give your body a kick in the pants.

* It is better to test your soil earlier in the spring. If you head over to the CT Agricultural Station they can assist with testing your soil. Knowing your soil’s baseline will get you off to the right start. If we know your pH level is low, we can put down Limestone right away. You know how much I love Limestone and how I believe the right pH is the key to the best lawn on the block and the most productive veggie garden! I can even test your pH level right here in the store…for free!!

*Apply Bonide’s Organic Horticultural Oil or Bayer’s Systemic Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed early in the season. The earlier you apply, the more you are following the program of Integrated Pest Management. Act preventatively and you will use less product in the long run. The Horticultural Oil is great for smothering overwintering insects and eggs before they become a problem in spring. The Systemic treatment is the best for some of the most damaging pests such as; Boxwood Leafminer, Dogwood Borers, Birch Borers, and Scales.bayer tr shrub concentrate

*Early control of some of our most problem lawn weeds can happen as soon as the temperatures reach the 40’s. Bonide makes an awesome weed control product called Weed Beater Ultra. The liquid form works wonderfully in the cooler weather with pesky weeds like Creeping Charlie, Chickweed, and Hairy Bittercress.

How are you now? Do you feel warmer? Has your brain defrosted a little bit? Are you now staring out the window and daydreaming about your lawn and garden instead of escaping to a remote island? If so, mission accomplished. Let’s pull the gardening hat out of the closet, dust off the brim, and get our mental gardening mojo back.

We look forward to seeing you all. Come in and say “Hi” so we can also put your bodies in gardening motion. I’ve missed you all and can’t wait to garden with you!

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!