- Our drought continues and subsoil moisture is depleted. Continue to water your gardens, especially any newly planted trees, shrubs and all evergreens. Water deeply but not more than twice each week.
- Make notes about your garden. Did you try new vegetables and did some do better than others? Which varieties did you like and why? Make notes about your perennials and annuals too.
- Now that most of our gardens have had a killing frost, our growing season has mostly come to an end. Continue cleaning up the debris from your lawn and garden. You can leave any plants that are still green, but if they are brown, cut them down. Any diseased material should go in your trash. Everything else can be placed in the compost.
- Continue to turn your compost pile. Moisten it if needed. A handful of ‘working’ compost should feel like a wrung-out sponge.
- Erect ‘corrals’ of burlap as wind and sun barriers and fencing to deter those pesky rodents. Now, before the ground freezes solid, is the time to get the stakes in the ground and the barriers up. Burlap wind barrier can be just tied or wired to the posts at an appropriate level, but the bottom edge of any wire fencing should be buried in the ground an inch or more so the bunnies and voles don’t dig under it. Three foot tall chicken wire can impede rabbits, but you’ll need ¼” mesh to keep voles away from girdling trees and shrubs.
- Remember: rabbits and deer do not like to jump into small spaces. Install fencing a little away from trunks and stems, but keep the diameter of the corral smaller than one body length of the critter you are trying to deter.
- Many four legged critters are looking for extra food to eat and store for winter now. Repellents are helpful. There are odor and taste types available. Be prepared to try more than one type and to alternate several kinds since animals can get used to a constant odor or taste and learn to ignore it.
- Mums, Grasses, Sedums, and Asters other fall plants are still available to add some great fall color to your yard.
- Continue to remove weeds from your garden, especially those that have set seeds. Dispose of these in the trash, not your compost. Weed seeds will not be killed in your compost this late in the season. Small weeds without seeds can still be a great addition to your compost bin as a great source of moisture, Nitrogen and trace minerals.
Birding in Your Backyard
- Clean your bird feeders and bird baths on a regular basis to keep your backyard bird friends healthy. Consider using a heated water source now and through the winter. Providing clean, open water is a bird magnet.
- Empty and disinfect nest boxes, but leave them in place. Birds will use them for shelter in icy weather.
- Keep your hummingbird feeders up for a week or so yet. Stragglers will appreciate the food to supply energy for that long flight south.
- Consider leaving Ornamental Grasses and perennials with seeds such as Echinacea standing for the winter. These will provide some natural food for your birds as well as provide winter interest.
- Deep piles of leaves on your lawn can cause disease problems, so you will need to deal with them, but don’t throw them away. Add to your compost, bag them loosely to use as winter covering or best of all, run your mower through them to chop them finely and scatter them over the lawn.
- Be sure lawns get watered deeply once each week if we do not get rain. A 1 inch soaking in the morning once a week is better than lighter or more frequent watering.
- Remove frost-killed fruit and leaf debris promptly from vegetable gardens to minimize prevent disease, insect problems next year and to avoid attracting foraging ‘critters’.
- Root crops, such as carrots, rutabaga and turnips can be left in the ground for several weeks yet. Flavor will improve with the cooler weather. Brussels Sprouts and carrots actually get sweeter after light frosts.
Continue to remove dead flowers and seed heads from frost-hardy annuals to promote continuous blooming as long as the season permits. The remains of frost-killed tender annuals should be removed promptly. Any that are diseased should go into the trash, healthy material can go into the compost.
- Prepare now for that welcome splash of spring color! Bulbs in endless varieties and types are now available. Plant in big, random groups rather than ‘soldiers in a row’ for best effect. Don’t be afraid to mix and match!
- Bulbs grow best in full sun in a well-drained location. Plant them pointed end up and three bulb-diameters deep. Feed with a granular fertilizer labeled specifically for bulbs following the directions on the package. Water well once, then let fall rains take over.
- Beware of the squirrels and other critters that are enjoying the easy digging in the soft earth of your new bulb garden. Although they will eat some bulbs, mostly they are just burying nuts and other food for winter storage. Still, they can do considerable damage and cause a lot of frustration. Minimize their presence by using repellents and covering the bulb area with a physical barrier such as chicken wire laid flat on the ground or even boards laid over that area – anything they cannot dig through or move. You can remove the barrier when the ground gets a crust of frost.
Trees and Shrubs
- You can still plant deciduous trees and shrubs. Newly installed plants should be watered deeply once or twice a week, more if necessary. A two inch layer of wood chip mulch covering the soil beneath plants will keep soil temperature and moisture levels more even and promotes better root growth. Keep the mulch one or two inches away from the plant stems to avoid insect and disease problems; extend it beyond the width of the plant’s drip line.
- Watch for and collect pods and seed heads for drying. Enjoy these in arrangement for fall and winter Holidays. Try them in natural colors or experiment with dyes and glitter enhancements. Have fun!
- Monitor the water temperature. Stop feeding the fish as soon as they appear reluctant to clean up food in about 5 minutes, usually when water temperature falls below 55 degrees. Uneaten food can cause lethal water conditions.
- Remove falling leaves promptly and regularly, before they sink to the bottom and rot. This may be a daily task during peak leaf fall! Covering your pond with netting can help keep leaves out of the pond.
- Service pumps and filters before real cold sets in. This can be a miserable task in freezing temperatures, so do it sooner rather than later.
- Decide if you will try to winter pond plants or replace next spring. Tender plants will need to be sunk to deep water or brought indoors for the winter. Hardy pond plants should be cut back to a few inches below the surface. Contact your garden center for specific instructions on specific plants.
- If you use a pond heater, install it before ice forms on the pond surface. The heater will turn on when the water reaches an appropriate setting, usually a bit above freezing. Changing water temperature too abruptly can cause fish to go into shock.
Posted on October 2, 2012