It’s never too soon to begin fall projectsAutumn is officially upon us and the killing frosts have entered the season. This past week has halted most of my garden plants from further development. Their reign was very enjoyable this year; even with a dry year, things flourished.
By: John Zvirovski, The Jamestown Sun
Autumn is officially upon us and the killing frosts have entered the season. This past week has halted most of my garden plants from further development. Their reign was very enjoyable this year; even with a dry year, things flourished.
The crisp smell in the air is a very enjoyable environment in which to work on some fall projects. The days are also quickly getting shorter and I find myself trying to get more done in less time in the remaining daylight outside.
Now that most of the items have been killed by frost, it is time to begin the fall time digging. Unlike spring, autumn is a much shorter season to get the projects done it seems. However, my list is much shorter when I am not planting anything.
All bulbs and roots not hardy for our area, which you want to save, should be lifted and cured at this point. Items such as cannas, dahlias, elephant ears, caladiums, ismenes, gladiolus and amaryllis should be dug up and dried before storing. I lay mine outside in the sun until the tops have dried and can be cut off. Once the ends have cured, they can be stored in a dark, cool and dry environment for best preservation into spring. I usually do not have a problem with bugs feeding on them during storage, but if this is a problem of yours, dust the roots and bulbs with Sevin dust before storing. This will hinder any pest problems that may do damage to the roots while they are dormant.
It is also a good time to remove any support stakes that you have around any trees, which have been planted in that last year or so. If your tree has been staked for longer than a year, wait until the leaves have fallen and then remove the supports. Prolonged staking of trees hinders solid root development, as it acts as a crutch to the developing tree. Trees that are large when planted can be staked for up to two or three years before removing them, but this is typically only the case with trees with a 4-inch diameter trunk or larger.
Recent long-range forecasts are still indicating that the weather patterns are going to remain dry for quite some time. Ensure a successful dormancy period for all your outdoor plants by watering them in well for the next month so they can store up this badly needed moisture.
As the leaves begin to fall from the trees, gather them up and place them on your beds. These will act as an insulator to your plants in the event we get a snow season like last year. If we get a regular winter season with average snowfall, this is just an added protection to your gardens. In the springtime, most of these leaves can be left on the beds to work into the soil during the new growing season. I put nearly a foot of leaves on my beds in the fall and leave them in all year long. By the time July comes along, most of the leaves have been naturally pulled into the soil by the earthworms and begin to decompose. Free organic matter is always an added bonus to help enrich your soil with nutrients. Gather as many as you can in the neighborhood over throwing them away.
Empty all containers of their contents so you can wash and sanitize them before storing for the season. This will save some time in the spring when there are so many other tasks to be done. You will be glad you did when the time arrives.
This is also a great time to wash down the decks and patios and store the lawn furniture. Any last minute painting that may need to be done outside should be accomplished before the temperatures drop below 55 degrees in most situations.
If you have an automatic sprinkler system, it will soon be time to drain the lines and blow out the heads so they don’t become damaged when the temperatures become too cold. Garden hoses will also need to be pulled in and stored so they do not burst due to the temperatures. If left outside, make sure they have been disconnected from the house to prevent any internal damage.
Autumn, it is the season to get things ready again for hibernation and to look forward to the beauty of the garden in its barren state of dormancy. As we are all aware, each season brings its own unique characteristics to the scene and each are just as exciting as the previous one. This is a glorious season that just never seems to last long enough, so get out and enjoy the nice days as they arrive.