October beauty denies her winter warning


The legendary “bright blue weather” of October is truly my favorite time of year. But as the title suggests, it carries the warning of an oncoming cold and it’s time for a multitude of garden / landscape activities, small and / or large. I’ll cover them in a series of informative suggestions that will hopefully cover all the unfinished business you have in your environment.

The early descent of autumn in the 1930s on the thermometer warns us to protect our tender perennials and shrubs from the cold to come. This is also the last time to plant spring bulbs, tubers, bulbs and more and to prepare the ground for next year’s gardens. Fall planting is necessary for tulips, daffodils, irises, peonies and other spring flowers since they must undergo a natural “cold treatment” in the soil. During the winter, cold weather dormancy triggers a chemical mechanism inside the bulb that initiates the flowering process.

When planting bulbs, follow the depth directions and if desired, give them some bulb food. If you plant after mid-October, however, don’t give them any more plant food or fertilizer or anything else in the garden. This is the time to start dormancy, and the plants need to relax and go “sleepy” – not to be artificially shaken to want to grow and grow roots, leaves and flowers – what the fertilizer is for.

Division and transplanting should be done now and remember to replant the divisions to the same depth they were growing. Remember that the iris should be practically on top or on the ground because iris leaves, as long as they are green, always provide food for the rhizomes, so do not cut them until they are are not faded (I remove mine every spring). In any case, remember to replant the divisions to the same depth they grew, and in the case of the iris, it means shallow.

And please, if you move or divide a peony, be extra careful. These wonderful perennials like to stay in one place (often for 100 years.) So if you have to divide one, use very good judgment. Do not remove the soil from the roots. Leave the soil on and around the clump as best you can, while cutting with a sharp butcher’s knife or even a sharp ax. Prepare the new hole and place the entire clump / division in it, watering well and providing good, rich soil around the empty spaces. Then leave it alone. Divisions of any bulbous, tuberous and bulbous plant should never be done more often than every three years.

Speaking of fertilizer, now is the perfect time to give your shrub’s roots a final blow, strengthening them for the real cold to come. I gave my roses their last drink of fish emulsion for the year last week. You can, of course, fertilize with manure, gently digging it around the area of ​​root expansion of your leaf or flowering shrubs. Aged manure is preferable, but fresh rabbit, llama, or horse manure is not as “hot” and possibly damaging as fresh chicken or cow manure. If “hot” is what you have, mix it with soil and apply it to the soil around the shrub, covering it well with soil, leaves or compost. It will seep into the soil over the winter without damaging the root system.

I’ve talked about pruning before, and although most pruning should wait until spring, you can now thin out dead, broken, or crossed branches, but major cuts should be delayed until the snow has fallen. . Pruning is another “shake-giver”, causing the shrubs to sprout new growth to make up for what has been removed. In addition, the open wounds of the stems / branches invite burrowing insects to do their dirty work during the winter.

Container plants definitely need some attention now, whether it’s moving them to winter quarters – a windowed back porch or a well-lit garage – depending on the species. Rosemary should have been introduced in increments already, of course, to cancel out any shock from the cool garden temperatures to the temperatures at home. If you have really huge containers that stay in the garden all year round, keep them (and the whole garden) well watered during dry weather, and later protect them with a burlap wrap, wall. of straw or heaps of heaps of leaves.

Do not use plastic – it absorbs too much cold and can freeze the roots of potted plants; And plastic and ceramic tubs can crack if left unprotected.

Herbs and vegetable plants have their own rules. Chives, sage, and mint can be divided and moved now, and tender herbs like rosemary and tarragon should be potted and moved to a sheltered porch or cool room before the first frost. Keep gardens and lawns watered – too many people stop after harvesting – but the soil needs this moisture, as do the roots of plants, shrubs, and perennials. If left to dry, a bad frost can be disastrous, especially if there is no protective snow cover. Leaves are the perfect natural mulch and if you have them you are blessed. Save them during your fall cleanup and remember to leave small piles of brush for winter bird protection.

Many of our summer songbirds – swallows, redbirds, robins and others have left for their annual migration to warmer climates. “My” hummingbirds left a month ago, along with most of the butterflies. With the exodus of summer birds, however, comes the return of the winter population, and tits, nuthatches, star jays and even a few juncos are already within reach in my tree-lined sanctuary. These cold lovers appreciate the blanket, warmth, and predator protection that brush piles provide.

I put out the black sunflower seed feeders and high protein tallow blocks, although there is still plenty of natural food on hand: perennials and seed grasses, snowberry bushes and mountain ash trees laden with berries, and the ever-lavish bounty of nature., I’ve included a thistle tube for the pine siskins that haven’t arrived yet. Remember to continue to fill your birdbath. A source of water is vital, especially when freezes arrive.

Again, don’t make the common mistake of slowing down your watering. It is something that plants need until they go into dormancy. Many fruit plants and small trees – from plums (which need a good frost to thrive) to peppers and tomatoes – need this water to successfully ripen.

There are still late harvest items on the register if you’ve planted winter squash and pumpkins, for example, and when your garlic heads start to turn yellow and die, they may be ready to dig. Make sure you dig under one and take a look. You should see plump bulbs encased in a paper liner. If they’re not ready, recover and be gone for a few weeks. Otherwise, remove the bulbs, brush them and store them in a cool, dry place.

Magnificent fiery red bushes “ablaze” throughout town, maple trees in the Rocky Mountains begin to change color, as do red and yellow wickerwoods, and the blue and gold month is upon us. I love it. Welcome October!

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at bcdailybee@bonnercountydailybee.com or by phone at 208-265-4688 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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