It’s that time of year again as fall is just around the corner.
Temperatures should begin cooling off, and we should expect to see more rainfall as the season settles in.
• Planting: Before you get to planting, it’s essential to clean out your gardening beds. Make sure you take the time to remove any debris, old plants, and dead bulbs. If you’re not up for planting in your yard, you can always use large pots.
Planting in the fall ensures that your plants will be comfortable and ready to grow when springtime temperatures and weather roll around. Fall is a fantastic time to plant certain veggies such as spinach, lettuce, radishes, arugula, Asian greens, kale and collards. When planning an autumn vegetable garden, be sure to choose veggies that you’ll use and enjoy!
It’s also a great time to plant trees, shrubs, bulbs, grass seed, mums, and pansies. In late September, you can begin to plant next year’s garlic. Garlic needs to go through a cold period of 40 degrees or less as to be primed and ready to form large bulbs come spring harvest.
• To Prune, or Not to Prune: Although pruning stimulates growth and reduces disease pressures, hold off on pruning trees and shrubs until later in the fall into the winter. Any new growth produced now will not have a chance to harden off before winter.
Do not prune the large seedheads of Black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, and other perennials. Birds will appreciate being able to feed on them over the winter. Do not prune any spring-flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, azalea, camellia, holly, lilac, rhododendron, spirea, and viburnum. They are within three weeks of completing bud formation for next year’s flower bloom. If you have any dead raspberry and blackberry canes that fruited this past summer, those should be pruned. Fall fruiting raspberries and blackberries can be mowed to the ground in late winter.
• Garden Sustainability: Mulching in the fall reduces your work in the spring. Spring is a busy time, and late fall typically offers a smaller to-do list of garden chores. Cooler weather makes tackling a heavy job like mulching more pleasant. You’ll work up much less of a sweat when air temperatures hover in the 50-degree range, and you won’t be incredibly cold.
Are you decorating your yard with some straw bales? Did you know you can mulch your garden with it once it’s time to decorate for Christmas? The materials break down and add organic matter to the soil, which helps to make clay soil more friable and fluffier, and sandy soil holds moisture longer when organic matter is increased. Some alternatives to hay include manure, compost and leaves. Any of these options also increase the organic matter content. Wood ashes contain phosphorous, potassium and calcium.
• Keep Your Houseplants Happy:
As the days get shorter, and the air conditioning is being replaced by heat, our indoor plants begin to change their growing habits. Less light and cooler temperatures in fall trigger them to start going dormant. So, in order to keep them thriving, it’s important to help them through this difficult transition by adjusting your care routine.
Temperatures of 45 degrees F or lower can damage tropical house plants, so do not wait for frost warnings to move them indoors.
Before moving houseplants back indoors check plants for ants, earwigs, pillbugs, and other nuisance insects. Wash off insect pests or apply a labeled houseplant insecticide or horticultural oil to control any plant pests such as aphids, scales, spider mites, and mealybugs.
Be careful about overwatering during the indoor adjustment period, as overwatering will lead to root rots and plant death.
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is the owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)