Marge Says, 10 To Dos for Fall
It's been a good while since my cat Marge has written anything. She tells me she just didn't have anything to say, which I find hard to believe. Anyhoo, she's got something on her mind now and that's taking care of a few final fall tasks before winter. She left me a list of to dos on the porch and asked that I share them with you too.
Oh my word. That P. Allen says he has been a gardener his entire life, but you'd never know it by the current state of things. Here we are in the middle of fall and he hasn't done a thing, not one thing, to get the garden cleaned up for winter and ready for next spring. What does that man do all day?!
I made him a check list of garden to dos that I thought you might find helpful too. Of course, you've probably already taken care of business in your garden.
Keep in mind that Allen and I live in zone 7b. It can still be well above freezing here in November.
- As long as the ground is not frozen you can still plant daffodils. I recommend you plants LOTS. They are reliably perennial, critter proof and cats look great surrounded by drifts of the yellow blooms.
- As amusing as it is for us cats to watch our people fight with the water hose think how fab it would be to have it ready to go next spring. Detach hoses from outdoor spigots, drain them and roll them up. Store them in a dry location.
- Wait until a killing freeze to cut back perennial foliage. You'll make wild birds happy if you leave a few stems and seed heads uncut that will provide food and shelter. Not that I care if birds are happy. Pffft.
- Autumn is a great time to plant and transplant deciduous trees and shrubs. Do this after the leaves fall.
- It's tempting to go crazy with the mulch as soon as the first leaf falls, but wait until after the ground freezes. This will help keep the soil from heaving. This is something I have to tell Allen every year. Boy does he love mulch.
- Pot up paperwhites and amaryllis for blooms indoors in winter. Trust me, if you don't you'll be sorry when there isn't a leaf or flower in sight this coming January. Just sayin'.
- One of the best ways to save a buck in the garden is composting and fall is the best time to start a bin. A circle of woven wire fence is a simple way to contain leaves and garden debris. Fill the bin with alternating layers of leaves and green plant material, like grass clippings. Avoid adding sticks, diseased plant material, and weeds. Lightly water and turn about once a week. In about 6 months the material should be composted enough to use in the garden. Voila, less money spent on soil amendments means more for cat treats.
- Speaking of soil amendments, work some humus, compost or well rotted manure into garden soil now to get it ready for growing next spring.
- Take care of your terra cotta containers. Those things are expensive. Remove saucers from under your pots to help keep them dry. Dry pots are less likely to crack and the soil will hold less moisture. Soggy soil in winter can lead to root rot. Keep in mind that plants don't need as much water during this time. Using pot feet to keep the containers off the ground is a good idea too.
- Two words – dormant oil. Spray deciduous trees and shrubs as soon as the leaves defoliate. This includes roses and fruit trees. Dormant oil will help you manage insects and diseases that carry over from one growing season to the next.