All summer, many of us have yearned for cooler weather. Meteorologists are calling for frost this week. Again. And time, once again, marches us into the fall.
There’s tons to do before the gardens are put to bed. There are a couple of important things that you might want to think about before that, though, since these are time sensitive.
If you had issues with drainage during that last rainy season, you will want to consider improving or correcting that before the next rains begin. If you’re not sure what to do, contact a reputable landscape maintenance company or even a good nursery.
Something else to consider is the Master Gardener program. You can volunteer, take classes, and actually become a Master Gardener.
For my Southern Oregon people, get in touch with the local extension office in Jacksonville or Grants pass. For more information, contact SOREC at 541/776-7371. Be sure to tell them which location you are interested in. And the classes! Don’t forget about those! This is a great way to spend some of the winter down time.
As you guys know, it’s clean up time in the garden. There’s a lot to prepare for. Start looking around your garden areas to identify those locations that will produce materials for composting. Make a list.
Use newspaper covered with mulch to prevent weeds or to convert a grassy area to a garden bed.
Harvest your sunflower heads. Save the seeds for the birds and roast some of them in the oven for snacking. The seeds, not the birds. I like to leave some standing in the yard for winter creatures.
If you grew spuds this year, it’s time to dig them up. Or cut the bags, if you used a bag growing method. Store them in the dark, in a relatively dry environment, at about forty degrees. If they sprout, get rid of them, and don’t use them for seeds next planting season.
Bring in all the tomatoes, even the green ones. Ripen your green tomatoes indoors. Get rid of any that develop soft spots, or rot. It’s also time to pick many varieties of apples. Store them like potatoes.
Mulch the base of your cane berries, your rhodies and azaleas, and roses. This will help protect the roots over the winter. Predictors – like The Old Farmer – are calling for COLD!
If you grow asparagus or rhubarb, now is the time to clean up those beds and cover them with a generous layer of compost.
If you grow raspberries, you’ll want to trim away any dead fruiting canes or other dead wood in your raspberries.
Harvest all those lovely winter squash and pumpkins; store them like potatoes and apples.
Don’t think that we’re totally putting everything to bed right now. There’s still lots of planting and propagating to be done!
If you grow it, and haven’t divided your plants in a few years, it’s time to divide rhubarb. Plant a variety of lovely garlics for harvesting next summer. Make cuttings from geraniums, mums, and fuchsias. Now is a good time to plant some ground covers, like clovers, to fix nitrogen for the next growing season. It also provides food for the microbes, and other critters in your soil, very early in the season, when they’re just waking up and really need it.
If you’re saving seeds from the vegetable and flower garden, now is the time to sort, date, label, and store in a cool and dry location. There are some pretty cool seed vaults available on Amazon that aren’t too big, or too expensive. I bet if you went in with a picture of one you like to your favorite nursery, they’d be happy to bring one in for you. Chances are other folks would want them, too. Just saying.
They say you should dig up and store geraniums, begonias, dahlias, and gladiolas. I don’t grow begonias, and those others? They get a hefty layer of mulch (think rice straw) to over winter. You can dig them up and store them like potatoes, if you’ve got a burning desire to dig something up. If fact, if you do – leave those bulbs alone and come see me. I need some holes dug.
Fall includes quite a lot of cleaning up. This is a great opportunity to really see damage from pests in your garden areas that you might not have noticed during a full-foliage season. Remove and dispose of fallen apples that might be hosting a variety of unwanted creatures. Rake and destroy diseased leaves off your apple, cherry trees, roses, etc. Don’t compost them; bag them up and put them in the recycling bin.
When your fruit trees drop their leaves, most folks reach for the dormant oil. The use of dormant oil is controversial regarding pollinators. If you are not wanting to spray dormant oil on your trees, clean up under your trees really well and spray the ground. Of course, there are those that will argue spraying the ground damages the microbes that support the root systems of these trees. That’s possibly true, however, personally, I’m more concerned about the pollinators, and supporting that tree in producing clean food. All of that said, this will go a long way to reducing pest infestations in the spring.
If moles and gophers are a problem, you need traps. Or adopt a couple of big cats, that are already used to being outside or barn cats, from the Rogue Valley Humane Society. Outside cats have needs, too, so make sure you are able to provide safety and shelter over the winter, before you adopt. You will still have to feed those cats, too. But they will provide you with a valuable service.
If you’re interested in creating an insulated winter shelter for your outdoor kitties, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. No, that isn’t a misspelling. It really says GRRL.
For the time being, I can still say this …
Now, get out there and grow something!