KC Gardens

This week in the Patton garden

Frog planter
Frog planter

Honestly, not much happened this week in the Patton garden. The unseasonably cold weather kept me inside. I am missing those pleasant November days as they allowed for so much work to be accomplished in the garden. Even though most of the week was spent indoors here are a few tasks and thoughts from this past week.

Fragile containers

Over the years I have collected a number of decorative pots to spruce up the patio. Since I am a bargain shopper these pots are usually not the highest-quality materials. They are glazed and fired terra cotta pots. While they look great, the inside surface is usually not finished. This means that moisture can soak into the clay. As a result with winter’s freeze and thaw patterns these pots will crack and break. Each winter I take precautions to help ensure my investment will last.

Ceramic fired and clay pots should be stored for the winter, protected from moisture and the freezing and thawing cycles. I empty my containers and store them in the garage for the winter. Empting my containers is fairly simple as I never plant directly into them. I use plastic pots and slip them inside the container. Come fall I lift out the pot and haul my container to the garage.

If you plant directly into the pot the soil can be left but then it is vital that the container be protected from freezing. The problem is the moisture in the soil will expand creating pressure and the result will be a crack or flaking of the pot.

Clay-fired containers can be stored outside as long as they are dry and protected from moisture. In this case, remove the potting soil and store enclosed in a plastic bag or under a tarp. This stops moisture from entering the surface, which can cause the damage.

Still time to prepare the soil

I am still in the process of tilling my vegetable garden soil for spring planting. Even with the cold snap the soil temperatures are fairly warm from the nice October weather. Once this cold front moves out I will be back out coarsely spading my garden. Fall spading is more or less just turning over the soil and letting winter conditions break down the chunks of clay. I also spread a few inches of leaves over the garden and work them in for a little more organic matter. Come spring I simply rake the soil and I am ready to plant.

Fall bulb planting

Even though it feels like winter arrived early and is here to stay, there is still ample time to plant spring flowering bulbs. Tulips and daffodils need to be planted in November to take advantage of those warmer soil temperatures for root development and nice flowering this coming spring. Don’t give up, surely we will get a few nice days before winter settles in for its long spell.

I don’t think I ever remember it being this cold in November before Thanksgiving. But as we have learned over the years, normal weather patterns seem to be few and far between. Oh the joys of living in Kansas City with our ever-changing weather patterns. How would we survive predictable weather? It must take the fun out of gardening.