Kim Crowell, member of the Ladybug Garden Club, shared some informative facts on Fall Gardening at a recent meeting.
Kim states, November is a good month to do some garden clean up, landscaping, and planting. Fall is also a good time to make note and do some observing of what worked, what didn’t, what needs to be moved, or moved again, or what changes you would like to make in the spring.
Mulched leaves also serve as a layer of nutrition over the winter for your lawn. Rather than raking leaves, run your lawn mower over them to mulch them up. If you catch leaves when mowing, then use this as an organic amendment to flower beds or as insulation around rose bushes or tender perennials. Other sources of nutrition for flower beds are compost and manure. If using manure, it should be cured and not straight from the barn. This might “burn” your plants due to strong ammonia in the manure.
Take time to dig up your caladiums, dahlias, elephant ears, and cannas. After digging, wash the bulbs off to remove excess soil, then lay out to dry. When dry, then put in a paper bag with sulphur dust. The sulphur dust will help to prevent rot. Make sure to label each variety on the outside of the bag. While digging these up, now is the time to plant your spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, crocus, daffodils, and hyacinths.
Before it gets too cold and most definitely before we get a hard freeze winterize your water garden, or other water features. This will prevent the pump from freezing. If your water garden is more than 24 inches deep, the pump should continue to run especially if you have fish as it puts oxygen in the water. The water will need to still circulate. If necessary, remove the pump and as much water as possible. While playing in the water, clean and put away bird baths to prevent freezing and breakage.
Don’t forget about the birds! They have foraged all summer on insects and garden pests, so clean out those bird feeders. Stock up on bird seed such as Niger seed, black oil sunflower seed, cracked corn, a wild bird mix, and suet cakes. There are many varieties of food for our feathered friends. When looking at wild bird mix, try to find something that isn’t primarily Milo, which is used as filler and is not liked by most birds. Squirrels can wreak havoc on bird feeders, so you’ll just have to take it in stride. You can also get a halo for feeders that might help to deter these rascals. But you can also give them their own feed like peanuts. Another feed is Safflower, which birds like but squirrels do not.
Fall is a good time to cut back most perennials. Most gardeners want to cut everything back to have a “clean” look to their garden and to not have so much to do in the spring. But you should leave some perennials with seed heads for the birds. Varieties such as Echinacea and Rudbeckias will give the birds a place where they can take refuge during the harsh winter months.
Some plants like the protection of their own foliage such Butterfly weed, Chrysanthemums, and Heucheras. These fare best if cleaned up in the spring to protect their crowns.
Now is the time to pack away the lawn furniture, cushions, and plant stands. Winterize the lawn mower, tiller, and other motorized equipment. If gas powered and not empty, put Stabile in with the gas. This helps to prevent gumming up in the carburetor. Along with this, make sure to clean gardening tools like garden shovels, metal rakes, prunes, hedge trimmers, etc. by removing dirt, sap, or any other gunk, then put an application of oil on each item to prevent rust. Ultimately, your tools should be cleaned after every use to prevent the spread of bacteria, diseases, or viruses.
Lastly, fall is a time to reflect on your gardening foes and woes, but it also gives us the most beautiful colors of leaves and mums, the smell of apples, the many varieties of pumpkins, bonfires, and so many more things.
Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.