Autumn Garden Tips
Autumn Garden Tips
Fall has arrived suddenly on the heels of a cool, wet summer. Now, of course, we all are ready to jump back in with both feet and hope our plants have dried out! Autumn is an excellent time of year to plant virtually anything. The ground is nice and warm, summer heat and sudden thunderstorms are over, and the humidity is lower (which definitely makes work easier on us humans!). Plants do not have active top growth this time of year, so most of their energy is concentrated on root growth, meaning plants still have plenty of time to get their feet settled in well and to prepare for winter.
So, is anything blooming this time of year? Of course! Look past the usual petunias and geraniums and think perennials, and you have a plethora of choices to extend the season. Mums and pansies have just arrived and come in many color choices. Flowering kales and cabbage and ornamental grasses in full plumage add texture. Solidago (goldenrod) is brilliant yellow, and more good choices are sedums, asters, dianthus and dusty miller. Don’t forget evergreen shrubs and trees for year-round interest. Fall-blooming Camellia sasanqua have small rose-like blooms. Add evergreens such as hollies, junipers, cedars, cypress and euonymous, which come in varieties, shapes and colors too numerous to mention. These beautiful plants will also add backbone and dimension to a yard. Of course, October is also a fun time for decorating a home with minimal effort, whether it be pumpkins, bales of hay and cornstalks, or scarecrows, witches and ghosts for kids of all ages!
Spring-blooming bulbs such as colorful tulips, daffodils (deer-resistant!), crocus and alliums are available for planting now. Don’t forget a scoop of bonemeal in the planting hole for healthy bulbs. Bulb planters are inexpensive and make the job much easier. Cold season vegetables such as collards, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower, and root crops such as carrots (harvest after first frost will sweeten them), onions, and turnips will continue feeding the family on into the winter. How wonderful to live in the South when we can don a jacket and still pick our supper right out of the garden!
Always remember now is the time for dividing perennials while they are going dormant, and putting your garden to bed for the winter. Clean up garden debris such as dead annuals and leaves, cut back perennials and add to the compost pile. You can make your own “brown gold” for free! Put pottery inside a garage or shed to avoid cracking. Mulch when winter sets in to avoid critters and unwanted pests from finding a new home. Only prune shrubs to remove dead wood because hard pruning encourages new growth for winter kill. Only use organic fertilizers this time of year such as compost and manure (no chemicals) for the same reason. First frost is usually in October, so bring in those houseplants, prune them if needed, and spray an organic pesticide so there are no unwanted six- or eight-legged stowaways. Put them in a bright window and don’t overwater them.
Never forget the fine feathered friends who love to stay in our yard year-round. Pick up some feeders, seed, birdhouses and suet cakes, but remember to keep them filled. You can make even a small yard a sanctuary for these beautiful creatures and they will grace you with their beauty and song for years to come. For added fun, pick up a twirling squirrel feeders and add dried corn cobs. The little furry guys are natural acrobats and are hilarious to watch, and it may keep them off your bird feeders!
Your local garden center can offer a wealth of information, suggestions and helpful hints for the beginner or experienced gardener. We are always here to help you make your home sweet home the showplace of your neighborhood!
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