This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
These fall chores will reap huge dividends come spring
If you are like me, you are probably sick and tired of dragging hoses all over the garden, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds.
Understandably, there is a tendency for us to slack off on these chores as fall approaches, but letting the garden go to seed is never a good idea when it comes to weeds, either in the lawn or in the flower beds.
Keep your nose to the grindstone and you will be glad you did come spring.
LAWNS: Don’t wait for Mother Nature to resurrect your lawn. It will naturally wake up as the nights grow longer and the temperatures grow colder but helping this process along - with some supplemental water and a bit of food - will go a long way to getting it healthy again and ready for winter. Don’t put this chore off. Aerate, de-thatch, reseed or start all over, but get it done this month! Working on your lawn now will make a huge difference come spring.
PERENNIALS: You can still find lots of late blooming perennials in stock and it’s a great time to fill in those few holes that are left in the garden. Perennials planted in the fall will take off like rockets come spring.
BULBS: This is the month that spring blooming bulbs arrive at the garden center. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and many other minor perennial bulbs are all available to plant now. Not sure about bulbs? Try attending a local class such as the one we are offering on Saturday September 29th.
VEGGIES: As you harvest your summer veggies, work some more compost and fertilizer into the soil (don’t forget to try out that Azomite I talked about earlier this year), and replant with some fall crops. The Botanical Interest Seeds company offers ten varieties of veggies that will mature from seed within 60 days, or you can also plant transplants which will mature even sooner. If you are not going to plant a fall garden, at least spread a layer of compost over the soil to keep the weeds down.
CONTAINERS: While summer containers can still look pretty darn good (assuming you have taken good care of them), it’s not too early to change them out into something that will last through the winter. There is a huge palette of plant material that is appropriate for late summer planting into containers - herbs, grasses, evergreen perennials, and small conifers are all finding their way into beautiful winter containers. Think of using foliage and texture rather than just flowers and don’t forget to stuff a few bulbs underneath the plants while you are at it. Containers planted in September will look fabulous all the way into April or May.
PLANTING: Fall is for planting, so get your hardscaping done and get those plants in the ground before Old Man Winter arrives. You will see a huge growth spurt come spring and be miles ahead of waiting until March or April to plant.
WEED CONTROL: I subscribe to the philosophy that if my ground is covered with plants there will be no room for weeds. For the most part this technique works pretty well. I am also a big fan of applying a one to two-inch layer of compost in the fall, which will cover any weed seeds that are just waiting to germinate. Follow these methods and come spring you will have very few weeds to deal with.
I know this all sounds like work, but the time you invest now will save you much more come spring. Happy fall gardening!
Sunnyside will be hosting a free class, “Happy Harvesting,” on Saturday, September 7, 2019, at 10:00 am. For more information, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net/classes.
Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and you can send your gardening questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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