We’re lovin' this weather! How about you? Yes, we did have a long and hot summer, but after a few cool days it is good to feel the warmth again. While this warm weather is here it is time to start thinking about fall chores. I know that there is a lot to be done in the garden to get ready for winter, and the next season, but it is better to tackle that now instead of waiting for those really cold and wet days! Check out our story on what you can be doing in your garden right now. Then get out there and get those things done! BUT… only after watching this week’s episode of Garden Time!
This week we featured...
Early Fall Chores
The seasons are changing and it is time to get the summer garden ready for fall and winter. The Garden Time crew put together a list of some of the chores you can get started on during these last warm fall days. William started in the front yard to talk about the importance of baiting for slugs during the fall. A lot of people think that the slugs all die during those incredibly cold months of winter, but that is only partially true. Right now they are laying eggs that eventually will become the new crop of slugs in the spring. By baiting for them now you are actually reducing the number of egg layers that create the next generation. The lawn is also a place where people tend to get lazy as winter approaches. Now is the time to apply a slow release, fall and winter lawn fertilizer. This application will help your grass get a strong root system and help create a fuller and lush lawn next spring. A healthy and full lawn will help prevent that pesky moss from showing up too.
While William finished up in the front, Judy was in the back harvesting the potatoes. Fall is the time of year for harvesting! As your potato vines start dying back you can start to dig your potatoes. Just clear the vines and start to dig. Judy digs hers by hand so that they don’t get damaged by using a spade. Make sure you get them all, because any pieces left over will mean new potato plants in the spring. A lot of people, the producers included, just designate a raised bed just to potatoes just in case they miss a potato or two it will just become part of next year’s crop. Once you harvest them you can store them in a cool, dark place. If you have a piece that is green on your potato, just cut it off since that part may cause you to get sick if you use it in cooking. You can also harvest your carrots right now too. Now, if you have lots of potatoes or carrots, you can just mulch them and dig them as you need them during the fall and early winter. A lot of people say that the carrots actually taste sweeter once they have gone through a frost. Onions and garlic can also be dug right now. Onions tend to get mushy in the winter so digging and letting them dry will preserve their full flavor and shape. Garlic can be dug and dried too, and if you want garlic for next year you can break up the garlic heads and replant some of the cloves two inches down for a great start on next year’s crop.
William was now in the backyard to talk about tender plants and fragile pottery. In the next few weeks you will want to move your tender plants indoors or give them some kind of protection. If the plant isn’t hardy you can store them inside your home (be sure to check for bugs and diseases), in a greenhouse, or in your garage. Just remember to keep them watered and give them access to daily sunlight to keep them happy. Your tender pottery should also be moved to a protected area. If it isn’t ‘frost-proof’ it could be fractured, chipped and cracked by the cold and wet of winter. The moisture could enter the pottery and when it freezes it will expand and destroy your container. Check with a quality retailer of pottery for good outdoor choices if you want them to stay outside for years to come.
We then moved up the ladder to the roof. There we found Judy cleaning the gutters. Cleaning the gutters now, and then checking them through the fall, will keep the leaves from building up. If they plug they will cause the rain to overflow and could cause damage to your home. While you are up on the ladder, check for roof moss and treat for that. The roof moss is different than you lawn moss and needs a different product to control it. Controlling roof moss will extend the life of your shingles!
Fall is also the time for planting! William was in the front garden beds with some daylilies, iris and spring flowering bulbs and getting ready to plant those. The fall planting allows the plants to get some nice warm soil to start growing in and the fall rains keeps them well watered. The daylilies should be planted right up to the crown of the plant (where the green leaves meet the roots), not any deeper. The iris need to be planted with a tiny bit of the rhizome exposed so you can see a little brown of the root. The bulbs, like tulips, daffodils and crocus, can be planted according to their package instructions. All this planting now will ensure a healthy season of blooms in your garden.
Finally, Judy was deep watering some of the large plants in the garden. Even though we have had some fall showers, it hasn’t been enough rain for the plants to get a good drink yet. Continue to deep water your large trees and perennials until the real rains of fall appear. That will keep them healthy and happy, and give them a jump start on next year’s growth. After you are done watering, clean, drain and store your garden hoses. They will last many years with the right care, as will your tools if you give them the same attentive treatment.
If you get started on these chores now, you can enjoy a little relaxation when the cold does show up and you won’t feel overwhelmed! For more great seasonal tips you can check out the OSU Extension website, https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening.
Fall Berries and Seeds
As the seasons change a lot of plants lose all their appeal, not only for us, but for our animal friends too. To get an idea for fall plants with berries and seeds we stopped by Portland Nursery on Stark St. (503-231- 5050) to chat with Sara about some of the best fruiting plants for this time of year. We started with some of the taller plants in the garden. Crabapples offer large fruits that add a nice accent to the wonderful spring flowers they provide. This fruit is welcomed by most animals that visit your garden. Just be careful because they can get messy. If you step on them you can leave a trail of stains inside your home. Sumacs are also a great plant for fall and winter. Most varieties have excellent fall color, with striking reds, yellows and oranges in their leaves, but they also have wonderful and colorful seed pods for gardeners and food for the birds as well. An old favorite in the fall garden is millet. This plant is a grain that is used in a lot of bird seed mixes. The tall seed heads are very decorative in the garden and some people say that they smell like maple syrup too.
We then moved to some shorter plants in the garden. Pyracantha is a plant that everyone should have in the garden. With large clusters of reddish orange berries, it is a very colorful plant in the garden. Those berries are also a large ‘stop sign’ for local birds for dinner time. Another popular berry plant for the fall and winter garden is the beautyberry or Callicarpa. The most popular one is ‘profusion’ with its neon purple berries and can swarm the branches in large clusters in the late fall. There is also a new variety with white berries called ‘Albicacca’. This has a huge amount of berries too and is one of Sara’s favorites! Of course, no fall garden would be complete without a sunflower. There is a new one on the market called ‘Sunfinity’, named for the endless blooms it has during late summer and into fall. These heads can be pruned back to promote more blooms and if you leave them on the plant they will provide bunches of seeds for fall feeding birds and other small animals. If you are looking for a shorter or a ground cover type of plant, there are the cotoneasters. The ‘Coral Beauty’ gets a little taller, maybe a foot or two, and is covered in reddish pink berries. The ‘Thyme-leaved’ cotoneaster is a shorter variety with smaller leaves and the same reddish berries. Both are a winner for those ground dwelling birds!
If you are interested in adding plants with seeds and berries to your garden, stop by your local independent garden center, or stop by either location of Portland Nursery to see the huge selection that is available.
Grimm’s Fall Mulch
Believe it or not, now is the time to start thinking about your summer garden. If your garden is getting tired and needs a boost, then you should be adding garden compost now. It is also the time to add mulch to your garden to protect your plants and add nutrients to the soil. Jeff Grimm from Grimm’s Fuel (503-636-3623) showed Judy all the different mulches and composts available and the benefits of each one. You can even use some of them for erosion control. We also found out the differences between all the different barks that are available, plus if you don’t want to spend time shoveling, they can even blow it in for you. Now is also the time to get your wood for the coming winter. Grimm’s not only has barks and mulches for your garden they also supply wood and heating oil too. Give them a call before it’s too late!
Mosaic Garden Blocks
We all want something special in the garden. How about some handmade art? Carol, a friend of the show, is a very creative artist. She invited us over to Oceanside to check out her latest garden project, a mosaic cinder block tower. This little structure was not only beautiful, it was unique, since she had made it by hand.
She started by picking up some small cinder blocks (8x8x8) at her local hardware store, some outdoor paint, some gorilla glue and various things to attach (beads, tiles and pottery) to the blocks. She started by painting the sides of the bricks that were going to be exposed. The colors were meant to stand out, but you could also match them to various color themes in your garden. On the other exposed parts of the blocks she attached broken pottery, beads and other tiles using the gorilla glue. These surfaces had to be prepped first with water to allow the glue to work and then the objects glued to the surfaces. These pieces had to be weighted down so they didn’t ‘pop up’ when the glue expanded. For the tiles and pottery she had to do the same thing, but the tiles presented an additional problem. Carol had attached different decorative designs from paper napkins on the surface of the tiles using Mod Podge and those had to be sealed to protect the paper transfers from washing off in the weather. Once everything was glued and sealed, Carol grouted and sealed the blocks. Then she simply had to stack them into a tower in her garden. If your tower is level, no additional cement or glue is needed since the weight of the block holds everything in place. She even topped the whole thing off with a decorative ball. If you would like a more detailed description of this process, check out the September 2016 edition of Garden Time magazine, http://www.gardentime.tv/gto/1609/GTDM-1609.pdf.