In my world, September always feels like a continuation of summer, while October puts me in the mood for fall.
The shrubs and trees are starting to really take color, everywhere you look retailers are displaying mums and pumpkins, lawns are waking up from their summer dormancy and homeowners are going crazy with their Halloween decorations.
The days are decidedly shorter and the nights much cooler. On the one hand, it’s time to take a deep breath and slow down the hectic pace of watering, mowing, staking, deadheading, harvesting and weeding. On the other hand, this is our last golden opportunity to wrap up our landscaping projects and prepare the garden for the bed.
Here are some things to consider for this wonderful month of the year …
Watering: Watch the weather! If we have about a week of dry days, we will still need to apply water to the garden. Do not forget your bins and raised beds. These areas usually have potting type soils that drain quickly and still need water every few days.
Lawns: I’m sure we’ve all noticed lawns starting to turn green on their own, but if you want to speed up the process, there is still time. Concretely, it is probably the last month to revise or plant a new lawn. Applying an organic fertilizer now will help keep your lawn green all winter and into early spring. The red thread of fungal disease can sometimes be a problem in the fall and Bonide Infuse will help control it in one easy application. While crane flies have been falling off the radar screen for several years now, I have noticed an unusual number on my lawn this fall. This could be the year to consider dealing for them.
Roses: Stop fertilizing and leave a few finished flowers to form hips. Don’t do any hard pruning now, just a little sniping to tidy them up. Once the nights get into the 30’s, then we can do some serious mulching and pruning. Remember the saying: “Hip high in fall, knee high in spring.” If you have a lot of mold and aphids, apply Bonide Rose Rx (or something similar). It is a natural product containing neem oil which helps control diseases, insects and mites.
Perennials: There are still some late bloomers that look great, like asters, mums, Japanese anemones, cone flowers, Russian sage, sedums, and toad lilies, to name a few. Ornamental grasses are nothing short of spectacular right now. Take advantage of the last blooms of the season and don’t rush to put things away. There are a lot of seeds in these old flower heads that birds will appreciate. Wait for the first frosts to really start cleaning perennial beds, or better yet, wait until mid-February to do so.
Containers: That last good rain has pretty much wiped out my geraniums, so it’s time to clean up the summer color and replant with some evergreen perennials, ground covers, maybe a few dwarf shrubs and, of course, those pansies and violas. always reliable. If you’re looking for a good natural source of fertilizer, try an EB Stone Pansy and Fall Flowers fertilizer that contains seabird guano, a more easily soluble form of organic nitrogen.
Bulbs: This is the month to seriously start planting bulbs. With careful planning, you can have bulbs in bloom from January through June, sometimes all in one pot. Don’t forget to add EB Stone Bone Meal or their Bulb Food, both of which are high in phosphorus, an ingredient bulbs love.
Vegetables: I just removed the stems from my tomatoes and zucchini and am going to sow carrots and lettuce. Last month I planted spinach and broccoli where the beans and cucumbers grew. Building a bell (a temporary greenhouse-like structure) will also help produce a successful winter harvest. Garlic is a must to plant in the fall. Whatever you plant, definitely add organic fertilizer to replenish the soil after harvesting your summer crops.
Fall is for planting. This is a great time to visit the garden center and see what new crops they’ve brought in and which plants are sporting their fall colors. Japanese maples can simply blow your mind this month and there are plenty of other shrubs and trees that will leave you blown away by their incredible fall coats. Anything you plant in the fall will establish much faster in the spring.
October is really the last good month for some very important chores in the garden. Don’t let it pass. Stay safe and keep gardening!
Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be contacted at [email protected]
Two free lessons
Sunnyside Nursery’s free gardening classes are online at the moment. A “Fall Color and Winter Bloom” class is scheduled for October 9 at 10 am, followed by a “Spring Bulbs in Bloom” class at 11 am on October 11 via Zoom. With registration you will receive a Zoom link to attend the online course. For more information or to register, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net/classes.