Tackling early November gardening chores

Every season, even the ones we don?t associate with gardening, presents its necessary gardening chores. Many of these are less enjoyable than planting and harvesting, but getting them done can bring its own sense of satisfaction and give gardeners a good start in the spring.

? Vegetable gardens ? While most of the vegetable harvest is complete and the growing area cleaned up, root crops can stay in the ground to be dug as long as feasible. In addition, cold frames may need to be tended. As temperatures drop, fill clear two-liter pop bottles with water and place them in the cold frame. The water will store heat on sunny days and release it at night to moderate the air temperature.

? Roses ? While hardy shrub roses need no special protection, more sensitive varieties do. Avoid use of rose cones, which can become disease breeders or prompt premature growth. Instead, mulch each plant up to six to eight inches with leaves, compost, or other natural mulching material.

? Lawns ? The continuing clearing of leaves is important. While leaves are wonderful on the compost pile and fine around shrubs and perennials, on lawns they are killers. Keeping them cleared is an excellent use of your time and energy. If you did not apply lawn fertilizer earlier this fall, spread it now.

? Lawn mowers ? Once you know that the season?s last mowing is past, that is the perfect time for maintenance. Clean off all grass and other debris. If your mower is gas-powered, use up all gas or drain the remaining fuel. Change the oil, spark plugs, oil filter and air filter. Sharpen the blade. With all this accomplished, your mower will be ready to go in the spring.

? Containers ? Empty pots that you want to store indoors. The old potting soil can be added to garden areas or to the compost pile. For pots that will stay outside, leave the soil in and use it as a base for attractive displays of hardy plant material such as evergreen boughs and grasses.