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Gardening Tips for Fall 2010
PLANTING TREES – Many of you will recognize the diagram we put in the fall flyer that emphasizes advantages of fall planting. We have used it for several ears. A visual description can often illustrate something better than just words can convey. October is probably the best time to plant trees. The temperature is usually on a noticeable down trend, and with a little luck, Mother Nature might send us some rain. It can be seen on the diagram that the roots get a head start over anything planted in spring. Spring is a good time to plant, too, but those things planted in fall have the advantage of the extra root growth developed during fall and winter months, and are better prepared for the coming hot weather that follows spring.
FALL FERTILIZING should be done in September, which is probably the most important fertilization of the year. All plants are going into a period of dormancy and store food in their tissues to be able to leaf out, bloom, and set fruit in the spring. Deciduous plants and trees must be fertilized before their leaves begin to turn color and fall because a leafless plant cannot utilize the fertilizer. The facing leaves that may be there are not working at full potential. Fertilizer may simply be wasted and washed away by winter rains. Plants such a camellias and rhododendrons are an exception to this because they have already set buds for their spring bloom cycle. Fertilizing them at this time can encourage them to grow at the expense of dropping the buds. They should be fertilized immediately following the bloom cycle.
BULBS FOR SPRING BLOOM – Bulbs planted in the fall for spring bloom are available now. We will have a good selection of tulips and daffodils (narcissus) this year. Other spring bulbs have waned in sales in the past few years, so we decided to expand the selection of those things that seem to sell best in our area. We hope that you will enjoy the selection of pretty tulips and daf- fodils.
VEGGIES AND WINTER ANNUALS – vegetables are available now, which include lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard and cabbage. They are usually started from little plants in 6 packs. Root vegetables such as carrots, beets and turnips are usually planted from seed. Winter annuals such as calendula, pansies, violas, stocks, snapdragons, and primroses should be planted soon in order that they might become established and get some size before the weather and the ground become cold. All veggies and flowers will perform more reliably if planted sooner rather than later.
PERENNIALS – Just as with the veggies and winter annuals mentioned above, perennials should be planted now in order to be well established before going dormant for the winter. They will perform much better in the spring when they start their new growing season. We should have a nice selection of perennial plants in 4” containers.
FALL CLEAN-UP – Enjoy all the beautiful fall color, but then it is time to rake up all those leaves and add them to your compost pile (unless you prefer to let them compost where they lie, which is an option). If you don’t have a compost pile, consider starting one. Compost is a great additive to the heavy clay soil many of us contend with. Leaves don’t look as neat as bark, but they are actually good for mulching around plants to protect roots from winter cold and for conserv- ing moisture. (Walnut leaves should not be used for mulch or in the compost pile because of a substance in their leaves that inhibits growth in other plants.) As the leaves decompose they add to the soil and encourage worms which are wonderful for tilling the soil. Worm castings are know to enrich the soil, so it is a winning use for the leaves all around. Fall is also the time for general clean-up of dead foliage. Perennials can be divided and planted in other areas or traded with friends — another winning situation.
GROUND COVERS can be started in the early fall, but there is a rather narrow window of op- portunity due to the fact that the root system is very small and needs time to establish before the very cold weather comes along that could possibly freeze the roots.The other hazard would be the possibility of heavy rain fall that could wash it out of the ground, particularly if it were planted on a slope. If planting groundcover from flats is in your plan, don’t put it off.
LAWN CARE – Lawns can be over-seeded at this time to repair bare or thin spots. It is also possible to start a new lawn from seed, but like groundcovers, it should be done soon. We usually suggest adding annual rye to the lawn mixture you choose because it comes up very quickly and provides a cover crop for the slower germinating lawn seed mix. It is a quite inexpensive cold weather grass that will not be harmed by an early frost. Annual rye will die next spring, can be mowed and left to add to mulch to your newly established lawn. There is available a winter lawn fertilizer that can be put on to help your established lawn withstand the stress of winter and encourage quick green-up in spring. It is for use on a well established lawn, only.
DORMANT SPRAYING NEEDED SOON – It will be time for dormant spraying starting in late November. Have copper spray or lime sulfur spray on hand so you will be ready to spray for curl leaf on peaches and nectarines, and for fire blight on pears. This spray should be used in late November (Thanksgiving), late December (Christmas) and mid-February (Valentine’s Day).
OTHER FALL/WINTER HAPPENINGS at Bald Mountain Nursery – Oregon stock arriving in late November. Cane berries, asparagus, rhubarb and artichokes arrive in November. Bare root roses and fruit trees will be coming in Dec.-Jan. – lists should be available soon.