The Autumnal Equinox (hours of day and night are almost equal) has officially arrived. A time for cooler days, crisp sunshine and glowing oranges, yellows, and reds of the changing leaves.
Although the weather has still been summer like and many of the perennials continue to bloom with vigor, don’t be fooled; fall is here and we must prepare.
Now is the time to start cleaning up your vegetable gardens. Potatoes and carrots should be dug up.
Tomatoes will be ripening nicely but look out, the nights are getting colder and they might need to be covered. It is important to weed, pull out spent vines, bean stocks and other plant material avoiding blight spores which will contaminate the soil.
Discard any diseased pieces and compost the rest. Trellises, cages and stakes should be cleaned with a solution of 2 to 1 water and bleach. It is also a good idea to clean, disinfect and oil your garden tools.
This will kill any disease, mold or infestation that developed over the season preventing the spread into the next growing season.
Spreading finished compost from last year and scattering raked fallen leaves over your garden will continue to ensure the soil has the nutrients available for next year’s bumper crop.
This time of year also gives us the opportunity to look over the existing flower beds. Did this plant work here, would something different fit in better.
Removing undesirable, poor performers or sickly plants will stimulate a new interest in the style and look of the garden beds. Start a new bed.
Pick a spot that will provide a view from a kitchen or living room window. Define a border, lay a foundation of cardboard or newspaper topped with a compost soil mixture topped finally with a thick layer of mulch.
By spring the bed will be ready to plant with the amazing shrubs and perennials that were carefully contemplated over throughout the winter months.
Nurseries are still brimming with perennial stock, shrubs and trees.
Deals can be had.
Now is a good time to plant while the days remain warm and the nights are cooler.
The soil remains warm and encourages good root development. When planting any perennials, trees or shrubs remember to continue to water well until the ground freezes.
While the wind blows and the snow falls take, the time to dream and plan for next year’s crops and blooms. Browse through that pile of garden magazines, pour over seed catalogues.
Did the zinnias and marigolds provide the color and style I wanted in my front bed or will a bank of crimson geraniums carpeted by snowflake bacopa give me the punch I’m looking for?
Autumn is a busy but rewarding time of year. The fruits of our labor are being enjoyed.
Give thanks for the joys of the season and look forward to the rewards and surprises in the seasons to come.
Betty Drover partners with Patty Siddall and Margaret Devantier in a local garden business and shares this space with them every other Friday.