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Fall is not for sissies


Well that was a bit of a break, wasn’t it? I had great intentions of posting while I was out of town but have you ever tried to do any real typing on an iPad? Oh my gosh, it’s exhausting. So I didn’t.

Anyway, it was a great trip and I’ll share a few photos from it soon, but today there are important things to talk about that having nothing to do with drinking copious amounts of wine, which just happens to be how I spent a few days over the weekend.

Hang on to your hats because I’m about to give you a pep talk. Oh I know, whether any of us like it or not, fall seems to be arriving. And even if the weather wasn’t giving us some not-so-subtle hints, autumn is everywhere you turn. Catalogs are full of Halloween stuff, magazines are showing us warm color palettes and television commercials are telling us to order our new carpet now so it is installed by Thanksgiving. And I’m sure you’re a little anxious to get to the business of fall: you know, making mantel decorations that include faux pumpkins, making apple cider and getting some chili going in the crock pot. I am too. In fact the mental to-do list is getting long enough that it’s probably time to put it in a more tangible form (hint: all but one of the things I can think of have to do with paint, of course). But you need to put down the paint brush and the glue gun. There are other things that need to be done first.

Your garden needs you. I’m not even talking about the end-of-season cleanup (which is a month away or so for me). Everything you do in your garden now will pay huge dividends come spring. I look at it this way: I garden in spring for me, but I need to garden in fall for the garden.

This is a great time to divide hostas, and I have plenty that I need to do that to. In fact I may have lost two huge Blue Angel hostas because I didn’t divide them soon enough. I’m going to try to divide them now, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to salvage them.

It’s also a good time to divide other perennials.

I doubt most gardeners have this problem to the extent that I do, but it is the perfect time to get all the plants I have growing out in pots in the ground. My goal this year is to not have any pots to heel into the garden before winter.

My goal this year is to not end up heeling in a bunch of pots into the raised beds to overwinter. I’m just going to keep repeating: “Everything in the ground!”

I don’t really mind any of those jobs, but sadly there’s one other job that is really important to do right now: weeding. We haven’t even had that much rain lately but it’s amazing how the weeds multiplied while I was gone for just a week. It’s crucial to get weeds out now before they drop seeds and make next year’s weeds and to pull the perennial weeds before they get even more footing.

If you’re planning on starting a new bed next year, now is a great time to do it. I am a strong believer in a sort of lasagna gardening, although I don’t put too many layers on. For me, the key is to start a new bed by killing off whatever is currently living there with layered newsprint. I do at least six or seven layers using so-called end rolls of newsprint. These are the last bits of the huge rolls of newsprint used for printing newspapers. Most printing operations (i.e. newspapers) have a bunch of them on hand. They are required to recycle them so they will often give them away for free. I put down whatever I have for organic mulch on top of it to hold it down.

Before you enjoy the beauty of the season, get your gardening chores finished!

And if you have any energy or time left after all that, edging your beds one last time for the year will make that chore much easier in spring, not to mention keep your garden looking spiffy until the very end of the season.

I know it’s a lot. I know you don’t want to do it. I don’t either. I really, really don’t want to. But fall isn’t for sissies and we’re not sissies. Now get out there, and get gardening.

2 Responses

  1. Spent Tuesday pulling out old dead shrubs and yesterday moving lots of plants. Now I need to take some notes since I will quickly forget what I did. Rained an inch today and more to come so that is a big boost to the garden. YOu are so right that fall is time to aid the garden.

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