I can’t believe that I am about to talk about a fall checklist…but according to the calendar and according to the nip in the air at night, its time to start thinking about the end of summer <<Gasp>>. I’m personally a little torn by this. I love the gardening season, but there is something very special about the turning of the season that I also really love. Maybe it’s the autumn leaves or the smell in the air or even the fact that the outdoor temperature is now comfortable even at noon; whatever the case, I’m not too upset that its time to think about putting the gardens to bed.
There are a few things that home gardeners get wrong at this time of the year. First off is bulb planting. I love tulips and daffodils in the spring, but I never plant the bulbs in the ground until the soil temperature is below 4 degrees Celsius. Being patient when planting your bulbs is so important to ensure that they stay dormant until spring. Also, remember that the squirrels will probably dig your bulbs up if you are not smart about how you plant them. Squirrels like to steal food from other squirrels. They look for areas of disturbed soil thinking that this is where their neighbor has hidden something edible. When you are planting your bulbs, make sure to disguise the area with some leaves so that it looks like the ground is still undisturbed.
Speaking of your leaves; KEEP THEM. I know that some homes have huge maples or other deciduous trees in the yard and the amount of fallen leaves far exceeds any needs that you may have. However, mulched or composted leaves are the best fertilizer you can get for your gardens. Leaves that have been running through the mower are also fantastic as an insulator. A few years ago I bought a Black and Decker 3 n1 leaf vacuum, blower, and mulcher, and it’s become my go-to tool for creating my own free fertilizer.
Don’t forget to wrap your plants and trees! Once again, Mother Nature is giving us some early warning signs of another hard winter to come; specifically, all of the cone-bearing evergreens have them at the tops of the trees. This is a sign that we are in for another rough season, which is going to be hard on your plants. Go out and invest in lots of tree wraps and burlap. Having a windbreak is crucial for plants like rhododendrons, cedars and even your rose of Sharon. The key is to wrap your tree snuggly enough that the burlap will stay up in the wind, but not too tight as they break branches. You should also wait until your plants have gone dormant, which is tough for your evergreens. I like to wrap my tender shrubs and bushes at the end of October.
You may not have to start thinking about these jobs now, but trust me, winter is really just around the corner!
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