Happy Fall everyone!!! October is one of my favorite months in the garden. I love the soft rustling of the falling leaves and the crunching of them underfoot when I walk through our local park. I adore the warm toasted brown smell of leaves and ripened grasses and nutmeg.
And the colours always take my breath away..actually so does my not quite brisk jog (ok, its more of a shuffle really) through park but I digress. In spite of the drought this summer and the massive windstorm, the leaves that have managed to hang on are giving it a brilliant go of it!! So enough of the sensory descriptions...you'll have to get outside and find your own. Here's your list:
Miss that green colour? Happy now? Time to mow! Get your last few mows in before the weather gets colder and your grass slows its growth. You still have a little time to aerate, top-dress and over-seed if you haven't gotten to it yet. Lime can be applied if you need to adjust your PH. Try to avoid big clumps of leaves sitting on your lawn for more than a day or so. Add them to your compost or run over them with your mulching blade and use them as a top-dress.
Trees and Shrubs
Try to avoid major pruning at this time. Pests disease and fungi are very present in the air and you are opening up your trees and shrubs to major troubles. I KNOW your neighbour may be pruning at this time but that doesn't mean you need to follow suit. You can to a bit of clean up such as removing dead, damaged or diseased branches but leave the major pruning for January...when your trees and shrubs are dormant.
Fall however, is the BEST time to plant in the Pacific Northwest, especially if we continue to have such dry summers! Planting in the fall gives your trees and shrubs an extra season of root growth before they have to deal with a hot summer!
Surrey Tree Voucher Program
P.S. Surrey residents, don't forget about the Surrey Tree Voucher Program. Drop by city hall and get a $25 dollar voucher. Buy a tree at Art's with it and its worth $75 dollars. Limit 1 per household per year! The city is kind of paying you to plant a tree - it's a great deal!
Just a basic clean up just to keep yourself sane. You know the drill as you've heard me say it so many times so pass over this bit if I sound a bit preachy but for our new readers...keep your garden beds a bit messy.
We have over 500 different kinds of native bees and most of them overwinter in the soil or in the hollow stems of spent perennials or other nooks and crannies. No, I don't mean you should watch out for giant hives. Most of our Native Bees are solitary dwellers and don't sting. Interestingly enough these native pollinating bees take care of up to 70 percent of our backyard pollination. With the more common honeybees taking only 30 percent of the load. Because of habitat loss and over cultivation we are seeing losses of up to 90 percent of our native pollinating bees. Two species are actually on their way to becoming extinct. There are many great sites on the web if you want to learn what you can do to help http://www.beefriendly.cais a great resource!
If you are planning a new garden bed for next year, now is a great time to mark out and begin your lasagna garden if you want to take advantage of time and great composting material! You can check out our archive on lasagna gardening or use your friend Google. With a bit of planning and info you can save time, money and your back while creating a healthy soil structure for your new beds!
Hanging Baskets and Planters
Hang on to your baskets...don't empty just cut off the top growth and stay tuned!! It will be worth it, you'll see!! Check drainage, do a bit of soil augmentation and tweaking of your planters as needed. If you have mixed planters with evergreens and annuals you can tidy, remove the spent annuals and add some small bulbs in for a spring surprise under your fall pansies or other fillers. Add curly twigs, corn stalks and gourds and pumpkins as needed to bling them out for fall...have fun and use your imagination :)!!
Continue harvesting and get cold frames and cloches in place before killing frosts. Keep an eye out for slugs and snails as well. If a greenhouse is in your future or you would like to window shop, www.bcgreenhouses.com has a pretty spectacular gallery. If you would like to build your own there are some pretty clever how to websites out there. And if all else fails you can always grow sprouts in a jar and we do carry a selection of those as well and a tiny little grow light and planting bed so now even in an apartment...in the dead of winter...you can grow a salad!
Time to dream it, design it and plant it!! And for those of you who live in a squirrel rich area and lack a terrier...you can protect your bulbs by camouflaging their delicious scent (to squirrels) by planting the awfully stinky fritillaria bulbs among your tulips and crocus. Or you can try soaking or painting Plantskydd organic repellant or Bobbex on your bulbs. Use gloves...this stuff is very effective but it really, really stains!! New this year, you can shop for your bulbs online and we'll have them delivered to you!
Tools and Equipment
Once you've finished your final mow...which I am hoping is coming soon, though with this warm weather I might be mowing in November, you can empty the gas from your mower and check blades, lines etc. Towards the end of the month you can clean, inspect and oil handles and blades and sharpen or get sharpened as needed to keep everything in ship shape. A little bit of organization might be in order as well if you have garage hoarder-esque tendencies like me!!
That shoud be enough for now! Remember to get outside and enjoy it while you can, the November rains are just around the corner.