Fall is simply Mumbelievable for gardening

People ask me…..Rick why do you always say Fall is one of your favorite times of year to garden? Well first…. I like Autumn….that makes me the fall guy. But a more important reason is it is one of the most efficient and effective times of the year to plant. It’s also a time for the Mumbelievable, playful Pansies and fabulous foliage. That’s why they call it Awwwtumn. And Mums the word for instant color! Mum Ma Mia! Chrysanthemum is coined from Greek words chrysos meaning gold and anthos meaning flower. They are Mumbelieveable!

For instant color they are simply Mumbelievable!

1. Plants in Fall put their efforts into establishment (roots) instead of a focus on top growth (spring)
2. In Fall the soil is warm compared to spring making it easier to work with….and again great for root establishment.

Fall is for planting (click on image to enlarge)

3. You can effectively feed woody plants in Fall. Even though air temperatures drop the soil stays warm often all the way to Christmas! Hoe Hoe Hoe. The plant can take in the fertilizer and will get next spring off on the right foot!
4. We generally get plenty of natural rainfall in Fall. That’s why they call it rainfall!

Fall is a great time of year for perennials

5. Autumn provides great comfortable weather for people to work in the yard.
6. You can often get end of season bargains in Fall.
7. It beats watching your favorite football team frustrate you….again.
8. It’s the perfect time to fix your lawn….September and October is the ideal time to seed a new lawn or reseed or repair an existing lawn.
9. An ideal time to control weeds! Winter annual weeds (like Henbit or our friend Harry Bittercress) are establishing in the yard so get them now before they bloom next spring and produce seed. Perennial weeds (Dandelions) are like the trees shutting down for winter so when you spray them with an herbicide it is more effective getting into the root system for total kill versus the top kill only you often get in spring. Take me to your weeder!

Fall is the perfect time to establish or repair a lawn

10. Bulbs! Dig drop and done. Bulbs are easy and when the tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, allium, crocus and more bloom next spring you’ll be glad you invested in Fall!

Fall is for planting Spring Flowering Bulbs!

11. It’s a great time of year to move plants. Cooler temperatures means less stress AND a moved plant gets a dormant time of rest (winter)…..not like a spring planted plant that has the heat of summer to follow.

If you’re going to move some plants Fall is a great time to do it

12. You don’t want to leave roots above soil level (in pots) so get them in the ground. The plants may be winter hardy but the roots will freeze if left in the pots above the soils surface. If you don’t have the planting area yet, plant them pot and all temporarily to be moved next spring.
13. You can even plant “Annuals”. Ornamental Kale, Pansies, Swiss Chard, Snapdragons will tolerate frosts to bloom this Fall.

Plant some annuals for Fall color like Ornamental Kale

A “Seedy” Operation

In the midst of the 2020 pandemic we now receive unsolicited nondescript packages of seeds showing up in the mailboxes of homes across the United States. It only makes sense in the year of “sow what’s next?” My seeds were in a nondescript black and white package containing seeds sent from Suzhou JiangSu China. The seeds inside my package looked like tiny mustard seeds. Not everyone received the same seed. The news spread faster than a bindweed vine with some theorizing it was an act of agricultural bio-terrorism. A “seedy” operation.

Nondescript unsolicited mailings of seed packets from China

Government officials lack concrete leads to explain the seed distribution freebies, they suspect a scam that “may involve some shadowy seed agent leaving enthusiastic “reviews” on some e-commerce website in your name. Ugh. Do NOT plant them and do NOT to dump them in the trash or flush them so they have an opportunity to sprout elsewhere. Do not plant any seeds “from unknown origins,” because doing so could introduce invasive species. Our state agricultural department MDARD Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development was working on it when I called them and it has quickly became a federal and international investigation. The USDA, Homeland Security and APHIS, Animal and Plant health inspection service, all became involved due to the gravity, seriousness and consequence of invasive species to the agricultural and livestock industries.

A valid packet of seeds showing dates and seed lot

I immediately noticed on the packages sent there was no date stamp for when they were packed, on sell by date and no lot number. A seed lot can be defined as a quantity of seed with every portion or every bag uniform within permitted tolerances. The seed lot or group is defined as the percentage of pure seed, inert matter, other crop seed, germination and dormant seed, weed seed, and rate of occurrence of noxious weed seeds. So stay tuned….it will be interesting to “seed” where it goes from here. 

Deer resistant plants

The end of the line. The buck stops here.

The topic came up on my radio show that deer pressure is a real problem for many who find themselves suddenly growing a plot of vegetables. The spirit is willing but the fence is weak. You may have ray, a drop of golden sun, but doe, a deer, a female deer wants to eat the fruits of your labors. A barrier to thwart rabbits is much easier to establish than one that will deter a deer. The barrier would have to be substantial resulting in a sizable investment and effort. An 8 foot tall barrier is not practical or acceptable in many neighborhoods and deer repellents can become expensive and annoying to continually apply. If you do apply just make sure the breeze is not blowing in your direction or you will smell like garlic and putrescent egg solids all day. Putrescent is a nice and important sounding way of saying rotting and decay. You can try noise cannons intermittently fired or play recorded sound effects but in most suburban neighborhoods that can easily get you kicked out of the association.

What was that? I better toe the line around here

The end of the line. The buck stops here.

A caller phoned into the show recommending a fish line. Stringing fish lines around the garden or the yard can frustrate or deter deer. If they run up against a barrier that they can feel, but they can’t see, it’ll confuse them. It’s the end of the line and the buck stops here. One line isn’t going to do it. It takes two to tangle. Maybe three. An important caveat to share is that there are many articles to read warning of the dangers of fish line to wildlife particularly birds. One side of the conundrum says don’t use fish line as a deterrent. It is harmful to wildlife. Another side of the argument says one of the tricks is to pick a low test fishing line. If you pick a line meant for deep sea fishing and catching hefty tunas they will probably spot the line and avoid it. Ten to 15 pound line is probably best and tie it ankle height and at 3 feet and at “nose height” for an average size deer.

Stringing them along?

The other trick is to add aluminum pie pans. When the intruding deer toes the line the rattle of pie pans might cause Bambi to move his intentions to another neighborhood.


June is the month to swoon over flowers

As we turn the corner to the month of June it’s time to swoon over the plethora of bloom that awaits us. As the flowering annuals planted in the month of May kick into gear and perennials and roses show off, the month of June is arguably one of the best months of the year to enjoy the landscape. The days are long as we approach the summer solstice giving us a lot of time to enjoy the beauty around us. Plant growth with the long warm days will be at a maximum so it’s a great time to be thinking about feeding hungry hard working plants at this time. Grabbed my camera to shoot a few pictures in the garden to celebrate as we turn the corner to June and approach the first days of summer!


Container Gardening Tips Video

Here is my YouTube video with Container Gardening Tips. Now that the weather is warming up it’s time to get growing with exciting container combinations!