Columns

Gardener's Grapevine 2015.09.30

on . Posted in Gardener's Grapevine

By JO ERBSKORN

Fall is upon us with cooler temperatures, the trees changing color and all the harvesting. I love fall, but my allergies don’t. The air seems fresher and life seems to be a bit more relaxed. We keep busy cleaning up the yard and gardens, but there just doesn’t seem to be the rush I feel in spring.

Then summer is so hectic—going here and there, cookouts, travel. In the fall it is nice to think forward when it comes to gardening such as spread the compost on the garden after it is cleaned and tilled and let the winter weather work it in. Think about how things grew in your gardens, what needs moved, or eliminated or added.

I keep a gardening journal that helps me remember what I’ve tried and the outcome. I also note what will need split, moved or added in the spring. After all the cold months how do you remember that the hostas on the west side of the garage are too big and too close to the building? Likewise in the fall, how do you remember where your spring bulbs were and  where you need some more added?

If it weren’t for notes, I’d spend my life in the grocery store due to forgetting half of what we needed. I don’t even think about sending my husband for more than two things without a list. He’s a fabulous husband and person, but shopping is not his thing at all unless it’s for two things. Send him to a Menards and he could remember a yard long list of stuff that I wasn’t even aware we needed.

So for you die-hard gardeners, use a note pad. Yes, it will have dirt smudges on it, but a little dirt is just gardener’s gold.

The fall has a lot of advantages like cooler temperatures which are great for planting new plants as they will have time to spread their roots and get established. Just make sure it’s around six weeks prior to the first hard frost. Spring bulbs must go in the ground in the fall and you will be glad you took the time when the first ones pop up after that long dreary winter. I need to go get about a bushel of bulbs as some of mine have disappeared over the years and the beds are established enough I now know where they can go without overcrowding the other plants. 

Pansies are a great fall plant, just be sure to dead-head them so the energy goes into the root system and not into making seeds. You will have pretty flowers fall and spring, which is a double win.

I’m not a huge turf grass person, but I’ve read that fall is the best time to plant turf grasses as the cool weather helps with great root systems. September and October are the optimal months in the north for planting turf. Irises are best transplanted in the fall, although I have transplanted them in spring and early summer with great success also. They are a tough bulb to ruin.

I read this week that hostas may be split in the fall and will do fine, also. It just seems easier to me to do it in the spring when the leaves are not there.

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