Monthly Archives: September 2014

Fall Garden Clean-up Checklist

We can certainly all remember the joy of jumping into a pile of freshly raked up leaves, and perhaps we can also remember the frustration of having to rake up that pile again and again and again.  However there is more to fall clean-up than simply raking.  A bit of searching around online, I’ve compiled this list which will hopefully assist in your end-of season tasks!

Not included in the list is of course, the fact that you should be rewarded at the end of all the work with a bonfire with friends, while drinking some warm apple cider (or Pumpkin Spice Latte, if that’s your style ;))

Bulbs

*Fall is the time to plant many favourite spring flowers.  Crocuses, tulips, allium and daffodils are all planted in the fall.

*Dig up tender bulbs (Canna Lilies, Calla Lilies)

Trees

*Rake leaves

*Rabbits love to chew the bark off of newly planted trees, but damage is easily prevented by wrapping the trunks.

*Springtime damage from cankerworms is also easily prevented by banding with Tanglefoot

Perennials

* Fall is a great time to both divide and plant new perennials.

* As perennials finish, trim off the dead foliage. You can compost the healthy trimmings to continue the cycle of nature.  Alternatively, some perennials, if left alone, look great as winter interest and can provide winter food for wildlife. Leaving the perennials can also ensure greater snow cover, which can help protect tender perennials against winter kill.

*covering any marginal (tender) perennials with mulch will also protect these plants from exposure to the elements

* Clean away any and all diseased plants and dropped leaves.

Vegetables

* Vegetable gardens are best completely cleared up to prevent any disease or pest overwintering.

Tropical Plants

* Tropical plants should be brought inside before the first frost

Miscellaneous

* Tools should be cleaned and sharpened so they are ready for action in the spring

* Containers should be emptied, at least partially and covered to prevent cracking

* Even the best quality cushions on lawn furniture need to be dried and stored inside

Philosophies from the Garden

As the summer changes into fall, I look around the garden and, as always, make a list of things to remember for next year!  This year, looking at my list many of my things to remember for next year can be translated into good life lessons.

 

  • Be flexible:

Bedding plants can work very well in containers, and basket-stuffers can work very well in garden beds! 

In our front garden we planted geraniums and sweet-tunias, and they spread so nicely! If it wasn’t for our neighbourhood bunnies, we would have had a beautiful mat of colour! Similarly, I had two extra packs of impatiens after planting an area in the backyard.  I had an empty container.  The light pink impatiens in a large planter mounded gorgeously, and it was my favourite planter of the entire yard!

  • Good intentions need to be followed through with action:

Planting a new herb is not enough; make a plan to actually use it!

Herbs are one of my favourite things to plant.  Every year I plant at least one container of mint.  This year we had two; both peppermint and mojito mint.  Unfortunately, this and every year at the end of the season I throw it away, not having used a single leaf. Writing this right now fortunately means that I still have enough time to squeeze in a mojito on the patio before it’s too late.

  •  Large projects flourish with regular attention:

You can never have too much basil, or prune it too much!

In past years I’ve planted 3-4 large terra-cotta planters of basil, which has never been enough for our pasta –loving family.  This year, I took over two large cedar planters, and filled them with 24 basil plants.  With this much basil, I was never afraid to use it up, and so made pesto almost every week.  Each time I picked the basil, I made sure to pluck off and throw away any of the stems that had extra-large leaves, and any that had gone to flower. With such regular pruning, the basil flourished, and continued to produce small sweet-tasting leaves.

  •  Every individual is unique:

Even plants that are the same, and seem to be in the same spot can grow differently!

We have a row of 12 cedars along our back fence.  They are the exact same variety of cedar, all planted at the exact same time, and all receiving the exact same amount of fertilizer and water.  The 1st cedar however is approximately a foot taller than the last.  I am sure that the height difference is due to varied light conditions, but it’s a good reminder that there are many factors that allow for differences in plant growth.

  • Change is good, and healthy:

It is okay to replace plantings mid-season!

You may recall in spring time the excitement that surrounded planting croton in containers.  I eventually managed to grab one for home, and planted it by itself in a container on the deck.  Despite how much I loved the look of Croton in our planters in the greenhouse, it just wasn’t thriving at home.  Eventually I gave up, and replaced it with some extra Magilla Perilla that was still lying around the yard, and the whole planter looked much much better!

  •  Short-cuts are wonderful:

Mulch is a great way to reduce weeding!

We’ve covered all of our garden beds with cedar mulch.  Cedar mulch does break down, and blow away, and in the case of a garden with kids……get carried away for “crafts”.  This year we debated topping-up the beds, but decided it could wait until next year.  I am still convinced we can wait until next year, but wow! I needed to weed WAY more often this year.

  • Trying new things is an adventure:

Dividing up the responsibility of who plants which containers is a great way to see plants in new ways!

We have about 15 planters throughout the yard, some are planted by consensus; both of us agreeing on what to plant where. Some however are divided and we each plant some on our own.  Even the kids get in on the action, and this year, theirs were two of our favourite planters yet!