The rains have arrived and with them comes the realization that our gardening days are numbered. So, what can we still get done?
Last weekend’s winds brought down a lot of pine needles. For those of you who are new to the area, this is normal. The trees shed old needles they don’t need. The challenge is cleaning them up. I run over needles and leaves with my riding lawnmower as part of my last lawn mowing of the year and use them to mulch beds around the yard. As a mulch, they drain quickly and block weeds. Don’t use them next to the house because of fire hazard.
Mid-October is fall bulb and garlic planting season. When these are planted in the fall, they spend the fall and winter growing roots so they are ready to burst out in the spring. Flower bulbs are generally planted three times their height deep in average soil. Mark where you plant them so you don’t dig into them in the spring.
If you have deer, skip the tulips and go for daffodils. Daffodils contain chemicals the deer don’t like.
For garlic, break the head into cloves and plant the largest ones into soil enriched with compost. The tips of the clove should be about 2 inches below the soil surface. Once the ground freezes, cover the planting with 2 inches of the shredded pine needles or leaves mentioned above.
There is still time to move perennials, and now is the best time to move spring blooming ones. Dig out the clumps with a good-sized root ball.
If the clump is large, you can cut it into smaller sections with an old serrated knife leaving a good chunk of root with each clump.
Replant so the root ball top is at the soil surface. Water them in and mulch with the aforementioned needles or leaves.
Trees, shrubs and conifers can be moved once they have gone fully dormant.
A plant is fully dormant a couple of weeks after it has lost its leaves. After the leaves fall, the plant transfers the sugars in the branches and trunk into the roots for the winter.
To move a plant, insert the shovel straight down in the soil 3 inches out from the dripline of the plant. Work your way around the plant and then gently start leveraging the plant out of the ground.
Their roots are generally fairly shallow. Cut large roots with sharp clippers.
Once the plant is free, prepare a dish-shaped hole that is twice as wide and a couple of inches deeper than the root ball. Backfill the hole with the original soil and water in well.
Ornamental grasses can be left standing for winter garden interest. The snow will eventually bring them down. If you do cut them back now, tie a cord around the clump about a foot up from the base and then cut the clump off below the string. Don’t cut back blue oat grass or fescues.
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