by Candy Venning
The end of the gardening season is in sight, a relief in some ways but as always, a little sorrow mixed in. Put down that mocha-chaca-spice-latte whatsit and pull up yer booties for a final fling round the yard, it’ll give you a satisfied grin to go with your Boo-berry cheesecake.
Spring Bulbs as I mentioned in the previous article, wait, did I mention I’m crazy about bulbs? Should I mention it again? No? Ok, go read my last article and either follow me on Instagram to find out where and when I’ll be selling bulbs or head to your local garden center. I dare you to buy types you’ve never heard of and steer clear of tulips, aka squirrel fodder.
Division is for the garden, not for political views – Now is the time, sneak up on your perennials with a sharp shovel or an old sturdy breadknife. Get out there while you still know where things are, as well as where things should be. Heave and heft the entire plant out of the soil to cut into halves or tease root masses apart (soaking in a bucket of water can be helpful and you’ll get to play in the mud, more satisfying than it sounds) Plant those divided pieces, tamp the soil down with yer heel and water well.
Leaf Mulch aka free Soil! This is the time of year to riffle through though leaf bags, why? free leaves, yay! Painstakingly collected by your neighbour you can now dump them out into your garden beds where they will then blow all over their yard again, Kidding! Seriously, leaf mulch is the number one way to start building good soil, if you can get shredded leaf mulch from landscapers who suck it up off lawns then so much the better. Those beautiful shade loving plants we long to see in spring, Trilliums, ferns, Hepatica etc, all thrive in soil that has been built by leaf matter breaking down on soil.(aka forests) If you have the budget and the willpower give soil an extra boost by adding a layer of manure across garden beds then top with leaf mulch, truly the best way to build excellent, living soil.
Pots, Urns & Containers. If you’ve left it late but your pots haven’t cracked in half yet, get out there and dump out pots, turn them upside down, you’ll be happy to have empty vessels to fill when garden centers open again.
Tidy if you must BUT… understand that the seed heads you leave on grasses, coneflowers and roses often serve as foods for winter or migrating birds. Hollow stems contain native bees and beneficial insects (almost all insects are beneficial as they feed something in the food chain) the yellowing leaves break down and turn into great soil as I mentioned above. There is perhaps one exception to the leaf leaving – Black walnut – a bit of a tough pill to swallow if you’re trying to grow veggies or certain plants, black walnut fruit and leaves have juglone which leaches into soil making it inhospitable for tomatoes and many other plants.
Remember to dig up your Canna lily bulbs, Dahlias, gladiolas etc. and stash them away in the cool and dark away from frost. Save a few seeds and don’t forget to LABEL THEM because you will not remember what they are come spring. This year seeds sold out as the pandemic meant staying home. Who knows where we’ll be in spring 2021 but having seeds to swap or share is quite reassuring.
Just before you lock the garden shed, clean and oil up wooden handles on your tools, oil anything with moving parts, especially your shears and pruners.
Now rest your own moving parts, enjoy the pumpkins and get on a few mailing lists for native plant and seed nurseries.