As a gardener it is always a little sad to watch autumn come to an end. Now is the time to reflect upon summer and make your notes for next year before we get distracted by all the joys of the holidays. Taking a few minutes to do these simple things will help make next spring even more enjoyable.
-Find a journal or make a note on the computer about which plants did well and which did not. Keeping track of your successes will help you plan a more successful next spring.
-Write down any pests or diseases you struggled with. Many times, these problems can be avoided with early spring treatment.
-Take advantage of a dormant garden by using this time to study your landscaping. What features do you want to show off next year?
-Bring any tender perennials inside after the first light frost. Trim back the foliage to just a few inches, remove foliage, dry the roots and store in a cool dry space.
-Bring the garden indoors with houseplants. When we are forced to keep windows shut tight in winter, the presence of houseplants drastically improves air quality and removes airborne pollutants.
As leaves start falling like crazy, keeping gardeners busy, there are just a few more things to do in the garden before winter arrives.
-Plant spring flowering bulbs like tulips, hyacinth, crocus, and daffodils.
-After several hard frosts, cover your perennial bed with a one inch layer of mulch. A layer of straw or leaves will help insulate the roots while maintaining moisture levels. Don't mulch too early or you will provide a safe haven for any residual insects.
-Do not cut down your ornamental grasses until late winter or early spring.
-Get a head start on next year's broadleaf weeds by spraying them with glyphosate. This will significantly reduce weeds next spring.
-Orchards should be cleared of their dry fallen fruit. The dried fruit can carry disease and insects that will attack next years crop.
-If you have Christmas Cactus, now is the time to start caring for them so they get those beautiful flowers this winter. Buds will form if the cactus is kept at 50-60 degrees or given 13 hours of darkness.
-Harvest and store any seeds that you want to save for planting next year.
-Move tropical houseplants inside when temperatures outside hit the 50's. By submerging them in water for 15 minutes you can dislodge insects before bringing them into your home. However do not do this with succulents or cacti.
As we move into September, the days are getting cooler, the trees are beginning to change and so often we think of our gardens being "done". However there are plenty of things to do in the garden to prepare for fall.
-Divide or cut back any perennials that are overgrown. By moving them in the fall, the roots will have time to develop through the winter. This way you can enjoy bigger, healthier perennials next year!
-Plant any trees or shrubs that you have been eyeing all summer. The combination of warm soil, cool days and fall rain will encourage strong roots to endure even a harsh winter. Don't rely on mother nature to do it all; if the weather is dry, don't forget to water.
-Add fall color and interest by planting hardy Mums, Kale, and Pansies. If you plan on having Tulips, Daffodils or Crocuses, plant the bulbs now and you will have beautiful blooms come springtime.
-Now is the time to pull out the pesticides and herbicides to get your garden ready for next spring. Spray for weeds and put down slug bait as they lay eggs now that will hatch in the spring.
-Fertilize with a winter preparation formula and protect against early frosts by having row covers and blankets ready.
-With the right preparation and planning, you can enjoy a colorful fall garden and a care-free spring.