Sunday, 7 October 2012

Stuff To Do In October

What to plant this month ...everything!

- Roses
- Pansies
- Tulips, daffodils, alliums, muscari, hyacinths ....

- Rhubarb
- Strawberries
- Blueberries
- Fruit trees

- Garlic!
- Onions from sets or transplants

Garlic in June...

Toss your annuals into the compost bin as they are likely looking pretty tired now...

Dahlias and Gladiola's
Lift Canna, Calla, Gladiola, and Dahlias bulbs....
Cut off most of the tops and place to dry in a shady yet warm area (like the furnace room). Do not place right onto the concrete, instead spread them out on newspaper..
Let dry for a few weeks, cut off remaining tops, and place in buckets, ice cream pails. boxes, etc... topped with some potting mix or peat moss.
Lightly mist, label, and put away into dark, dry, cool area. Check on them every month or two, to see if they need a light misting again.
Lift and plant in spring when new pale green shoots begin to emerge.
Clean up the small fruits... blueberries do not like to fight with weeds for water,so weed, prune back if needed, and mulch. Raspberries should be cut down, top dressed with compost or manure, and watered well for fall.  

Gardens really benefit from 3 to 4 inches of organic material each and every year. Helps to build up sandy soils, break up clay soils, adds nutrients to the soil, brings in earthworms, all good stuff happens when you amend you gardens annually :)

It does not all have to be done at one shot though, so I try to add 2 inches in spring and 2 more in fall.
One can add compost, manure, dry grass clippings, leaves, alfalfa hay ... anything that will compost down and add nutrients to the soil.

Mmmm, compost! Smells so earthy!

Weed! Get rid of all the annual and especially the perennial weeds in your beds! This step is crucial as you know the perennials ones will stay on plus seed more, so it gets out of hand in no time...

Cut back any perennial plants that have finished for the year... Best if they are already starting to go dormant, but can also be cut down earlier if time is a crunch. It will not kill them or hurt them, but the longer they stand, the stronger they get.

You can also leave any grasses or plants with seeds for the birds, and any plants that will add winter interest to your garden... either through colour (Sweet Flag) or shape (ornamental grasses with seed tufts) , or both ( Sedum).

Sedums and grasses add fabulous fall and winter texture plus colour
 to your gardens and planters ;)

Also, some perennials do not even start to 'come into their own' until later in the season, like roses with orange foliage and bright coloured hips. Pansies, violas, mums, asters, rudbeckia's, penstemon's, cone flowers, etc... are all loving the cooler weather, this is their time to shine! Leave them till spring or cut them back in early winter.

Cappuccino Rudbeckia ... this is the time for fall flowers to shine...

Do not prune your shrubs, trees, or roses ( no dead heading either!) though, as pruning promotes new growth, which will cause winter kill if it happens at this time of year!

Mayor of Castorbridge English Rose 

This is a good time to do a soil test, check your pH level and also the levels of your N-P-K!

If your pH is too low, add lime to the top of the soil. During the winter months it will slowly begin to raise your pH levels. Most plants grow best at a neutral 6.5 to 7 pH level. Rarely in our coastal BC area do we have soil that is too sweet, as in having a high pH level, needing to be acidified. However, if you live in an area with lots of clay, like the Edmonton area, you can add pine (evergreen) needles, oak leaves, and maple leaves to your soil and as they break down they will acidify your soil. You can also add sulphur but I prefer to only use natural materials. Peat moss is also acidic, but as it is not a sustainable resource, I hesitate to recommend that, too.

If your N (Nitrogen) is low, you will have poor and spindly growth ... chicken manure, blood meal, seaweed, alfalfa, and fish meal are all good amendments to improve your nitrogen levels. Careful though, as too much nitrogen will give you lots of lush greens but little in the way of blooms, fruits or vegetables!

If your P (Phosphorous) is low, you will have poor root growth and little to no fruiting on your veggies, fruits, etc... adding rock phosphates, bone meal, and chicken manure will help raise your levels.

If our K (Potassium/Potash) is low, you will have few flowers and may have more disease problems.... adding seaweed, manures, kelp meal, green sand, and wood ashes will help to slowly raise your levels.

Pile on the organic material! Lots and lots! It will add all kinds of nutrients, plus great structure and friability to your soil.

P.S.... It is time to pot up your paper whites and hyacinths for the yule tide celebration's!


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