You work “Yard” for the money. Thinking of how to stretch your dollar in the garden? To have green thumbs not by the amount of currency handled but rather results in your landscape? Look no further than the months of September and October for help.
You can use your Dis-“clover” card or your “Grass”-ter card or even maybe your Hosta la Visa card with confidence in the fall for a number of reasons. Discounts on plant material are usually readily available. The weather is cooler and rain generally plentiful making it good weather for both you and the new fledgling sprouts.
Weed control is more effective in fall. Plants root readily in warm soil in fall as the plants put more energy into establishment instead of top growth like they do in the spring. The reasons are numerous why fall is for planting. Bulbs can be planted, lawns established and repaired, landscapes planted or rejuvenated and even annuals like Pansies or Ornamental Kale can be planted.
Plants established in fall have a jump start on their counterparts planted in spring and you look like a neighborhood genius.
Start to prepare your tropical deck foliage plants for cabin fever and the move inside. Soon tropical breezes will turn into whatever winter pleases. Your tropicals or houseplants should be inside and behind glass by then. I’m referring to plants like Hibiscus, Mandevilla, Crotons, Boston Ferns, Palms, Ficus and the like. It’s a good idea to bathe the plants before bringing them inside. Maybe some fresh sterilized potting soil is in order or systemic insect granules to keep the bugs at bay. Make sure soil is not saturated so we don’t create a fungus gnat issue in the home. Without the long warm days of sunshine and breezes the plant will need much less water in the months ahead.
Fall is the time to invest in bulb planting. With a good well drained soil and proper depth it is as easy as dig drop done. And oh “deer” if Bambi is a problem in your neighborhood not to worry. Bulbs like Dutch Iris, Alliums, Daffodils, Fritillaria will do just fine.
If you want to plant Tulips or Crocus you will need to have the repellant handy next spring. I successfully had a great batch of yellow tulips this spring and protected them with Milorganite and a repellant. They were beautiful and the deer were “deerly” departed to another area in the neighborhood.
Make your effort and your money count by actively gardening in the fall. You work “yard” for the money and next spring you’ll be glad you did.
How long has this been “growing” on? I’m so anxious to get growing, how about you? After a long winter we’re all ready to grow something. In April a lot of garden activities center on lawn care, mulching, soil preparation and some planting of hardy plants like trees. Remember Arbor Day? Well there’s more to it than that, it’s “grow” time. You can get a jump start on the season with some tender plants by pushing the envelope with some light frost tolerant annuals and by polishing up on your container planting skills. Contain yourself, it’s “grow” time.
Let me first “plant” this idea in your head. I’m a big fan of pansies and violas because they’re colorful and tough. That’s right, frost tolerant and durable with the cutest little colorful faces you’ve ever seen. I suggest you plant up some pots of pansies to get your fix. If we get an unfortunate night time temperature that goes beyond a light frost into the 20’s you can always cover them or bring them in for the night. I know of some folks who have their containers on a cart or on wheels so they can roll them into the garage at night if a cold snap occurs. You’ll find pansies enjoy cool weather and with some sunshine will bloom their heads off. Other cool season tender plants that can help you get a jump on the season are the colorful Swiss Chard, perky Snapdragons, bold Ornamental Kale or the unassuming Sweet Alyssum. If it’s vegetables you crave the hardy and tough cole crops may be your answer. Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, broccoli, turnips are all healthy tough guys.
Of course other tender plants can be started indoors. A sunny windowsill is a great spot to start some tomatoes or pepper plants. These plants will have to be hardened off before going in the ground sometime in May.
The great thing about container gardening or raised bed gardening is the soil warms quicker in spring than ground soil, maintenance is easier, and you have control over the soil your plants will be growing in. Don’t go dirt cheap on the potting mix. Your soil should be fluffy not clumpy, hold moisture without being soggy, and give plant roots the perfect mix of air, moisture, nutrition, and gravitas. It will keep your plants well grounded. Roots need air, as well as water, to grow.
Now get yourself some colorful pots and get growing. Your friends and neighbors will be asking “how long has this been growing on?”
Recently I asked my friends on Facebook what their word of advice would be for someone new to gardening and just starting out. Many offered some well rooted advice to mulch or water or be open to change. Having a vision, a good foundation of organic soil and to start small were other popular words of well grounded wisdom. One of my Facebook friends suggested that frozen berries in wine was a good pain reliever. Another suggested buying Motrin along with a lot of plants. Those who had thrown in the “trowel” suggested the new gardener give up before their backs and hips, have a drink and hire someone to do it for them. I liked the fact some felt variety was important and that gardening is good therapy.
In the spirit of turnabout is fair play, I asked myself the question. If left with suggesting one thing, I would recommend that a “smarty plants” invests time in their garden in September and October. Along with great deals on plants, the fall climate is perfect for plant establishment. In fall the soil cools down after a hot summer but is still warm and rainfall is more plentiful. Plants put in the ground focus on root establishment instead of top growth. Plants put in the ground in fall are well rooted and take off quicker in spring. This applies to woody landscape plants, trees, perennials, bulbs and even annuals like pansies. Frost tolerant pansies provide color in fall and then overwinter under the snow to outperform spring planted pansies the following spring.
The weather in fall is enjoyable for yard work, even mundane work such as the lawn. Feeding your lawn in fall is important to develop a thick well rooted lawn. Grass seed grows well in the fall for patching or starting a new lawn, September is arguably the best month of the year to start a lawn in Michigan. And when it comes to weeds, well “weed” need to talk. Perennial weeds send their food reserves to the roots in fall just like the trees. If you apply weed killer you’re getting good translocation of the herbicide into the roots instead of just top kill. Also many annual weeds like Henbit germinate in the fall to become rampant and blooming in the spring. Fall applications of weed control keep these weeds from becoming a problem in spring.
If you “plant”-asize about gorgeous flowers in spring, September is the perfect month to plant flowering bulbs. It can be as easy as dig, drop, done. Bulb selections go way beyond tulips with many of the “minor bulbs” like Scilla, Fritillaria and Alliums or Dutch Iris to name a few. Planted in a well drained soil these miracle orbs will pop up and surprise you next spring.
September planted Mums provide brilliant fall color. Mum-Ma-Mia! Hardy Mums and Asters can be displayed in pots for fall color and then if planted in the ground before winter with a light mulch covering should come back next year.
Be a “smarty plants” and make a date with your yard and garden this September.