Season 1 • Episode 6 - October 11, 2022

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This episode we talked about fall decorating. The summer flowers in your pots and on your front porch are looking pretty tired. We started this podcast on the front porch of Producer Jeff’s house. Judy works at Al’s Garden & Home (503-726-1162) and she brought some of the supplies that you may want to pick up to redo your outdoor area.

Ryan and Judy started by talking about those tired pots and containers. Sometimes all you need is to freshen up a container with a new plant or two. Removing a plant, like the older taller plants, can be all that it takes to make a splash. These plants can be replaced by a cool foliage plant like a tall grass or heuchera, or even a fall blooming perennial like a rudbeckia. You can even replant your whole pot and include spring blooming bulbs so the container has new color once the warmer weather returns. Check out the story Ryan and Judy did a couple of years ago about layering bulbs in pots, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7NzWPhADiE

For the front porch they used a combination of fall annuals and perennials. Plus they had the wide assortment of pumpkins and squash as well. These gourds were not carved so they will last months in the covered area of this porch. Some of them are also good for cooking and baking. We then started to look at the plants that were chosen for display. Ryan started with mums. These come in lots of varieties and styles. The favorite for fall is the pincushion mum. These come in all kinds of fall colors and look like a big round pincushion of blooms. They are not hardy and if you handle them roughly, they will break off stems. Then there are the show mums. These are taller and have a bunch of different bloom styles like spider, incurve and reflex. They can be fragile too, but some of these can also be hardier for our area. We then moved to the celosia. This plant has a pointy feathery flower and is great as an annual in the late summer/fall garden. A favorite of the fall gardener are the ornamental kales and cabbages. These are grown for their colorful leaves, but you can also use them in the kitchen too. They are very cold tolerant and look great for months! One of the coolest plants was a decorative millet. This had tall ‘bottle brush’ type blooms and had a corn-like leaf that ties in perfectly with fall. The millet is also great for the local wildlife as they will eat the seeds later in the fall and the early winter. Finally we talked about the cornstalks and hay bales to round out the décor for this front step. Of course a few concerns and suggestions. First, have no open flames near your bales and dried cornstalks. Carved pumpkins should be placed far away from these types of decorations. Use battery lights when possible. Also, make sure that you leave plenty of room on your front porch to allow those trick or treaters to make it by your decorations without tripping. Their vision may be limited by masks and costumes so give them the space to avoid falling and injuring themselves. We found a great website that gave us a few ideas to try. Check it out if you’re are stumped, https://www.southernliving.com/home/decor/outside-fall-decorations. Judy also recommended that you stop by your local independent garden center, like Al’s Garden and Home, to get ideas from their displays.

Then we moved inside to talk about more fall tips that we missed last month with Jan on our Fall Tips podcast. This time we focused on harvesting tips. Tomatoes are always a concern as the temps get cooler in the garden. People have a lot of green tomatoes and they want to get the most out of their garden before the freeze hits. The key is that the tomato has to have started ripening. For many tomatoes that could mean a start to the changing of their color. If your green tomatoes start to look translucent and are not rock hard, then they can be brought indoors and kept in a paper bag on your counter until they ripen. Some people cover their plants since tomatoes like heat to try and keep them producing even after a frost, but picking them when they are close to being ripe is the best way to get the most out of your harvest. Keep an eye on the forecasts to get them before they freeze. For heirloom types of tomatoes you can check to see if they are ripe by looking at the color around the stem and making sure that they have changed color on all parts of the fruit. For squashes, pumpkins and gourds. you will want to look for dried and dead stems and a hard shell. You will also check under the fruit to see if the spot that has been in contact with the ground has changed color. It will be white or light colored if unripe and will have changed color when the fruit is ripe. One key for almost all fall harvested plants is that when the foliage dies, then it is time to harvest. When the sunflower stalks or potato vines die back, then you can harvest those from your garden. A vegetable that you can hold off on harvesting is carrots. In fact, some people say that root crops will get sweeter if they are allowed to get a little frost. It changes the sugars in the vegetable and makes them tastier. Onions can be left in the garden until they start getting soft around the crown.

If you have walnuts or hazelnuts you will need to make sure that they are totally dry before you store them away for the winter. There are lots of handouts and tutorials on-line to help you prepare those for storage. We have talked about mulching in the past and that still holds true for the fall vegetable garden. Asparagus and rhubarb can be mulched to protect the crown of the plant so that they are ready to produce next spring.

Around the garden you will want to make sure that your roof and downspouts are clean and clear to prevent water problems. Bring in your hoses and cover the hose bibs on your home too. Tools can be cleaned and sharpened before you store them away, so they will be ready for use next spring. Putting your patio furniture away is also key to its longevity. Covering the large pieces to protect them from rain, wind and snow is important, plus storing your cushions in bags or plastic in an elevated area in your garage or shed to prevent rodent damage is a good idea too.

For your patio containers you will want to remove the pot saucer from the bottom of your plants to prevent the buildup of water and moisture in your containers that will cause the roots to rot. Also, make sure that the drain holes in the pots are clear and allowing the rainwater to drain quickly. Finally, we talked about greenhouses and cold frames. These will help you protect and winter-over your tender plants. Make sure that they are clean and in good condition so your plants have the best chance for survival.

We got a lot of our tips for fall from Jan McNeilan, our favorite OSU extension agent (retired) and from the Oregon State University Extension website, https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening. They even have monthly garden calendars if you need a reminder of what to do each season. https://extension.oregonstate.edu/collection/monthly-garden-calendars.


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