Okay, it’s official – fall is here! I must say, I do love the fall with the colours, crisp mornings, warm afternoons and an abundance flowing from the vegetable patch. Bittersweet tho’ – the beautiful flowers of summer are fading, there is no more crisp lettuce and the end of this gardening season is just around the corner. How quickly it went, our beautiful summer.
Speaking about the end of the gardening season, there are certainly a lot of chores that are on my list of “things to do” before winter:
- Finish weeding (I never, ever get this all done in all the beds but I try). Speaking about weeding, I don’t know if any of you have noticed but there are definitely days that the weeds “jump” into your hands and other days when you have to dig to hell and back to get them out. I haven’t quite figured it out but I’m pretty sure that the phase of the moon has something to do with this (gravitational pull) as well as the soil moisture. It’s for sure I’m going to start keeping records on this so that MAYBE I can figure this one out. Anything to make weeding easier!
- Prepare to plant my garlic (and other spring bulbs). I have weeded and lightly tilled the bed that I will plant the garlic. Also we have worked into the soil some gypsum and compost to the bed. Gypsum which is locally available at the gypsum mine if you ask nice gives minerals, particularly sulphur, to the soil and builds strong roots on the garlic. Now in a couple of weeks, we will plant our garlic. If you need garlic bulbs for planting or eating, I have my stock in store now – good Canadian garlic from Ontario.
- Get the vegetable garden cleaned up and prepared for next year. I’m composting all the left over plant matter (old lettuce plants, tomato plants, squash, green peppers, etc). My onions are ready for harvest and I have “stepped down” all the growing tops; I’ve hilled up and am putting straw around my leeks and brussel sprouts so that they will last into December and beyond. As much as I can, I will apply compost to the vegetable beds and get them ready for spring.
- Soil tests are being done on my garden this year – it’s been several years since I did that and I believe it is a good practice to “check it out” every few years to see if there needs to be any addition of lime or trace elements added to the soil. It’s a service offered by Dept. of Agriculture at a nominal fee. I have the soil boxes and instructions here at The Bayside. You can pick them up if you want (no charge for that). The cost to do the test is around $25 dollars and the samples can be dropped off at the Strathlorne Forest Nursery and they will send them along for you.
- Clean out perennial beds –another “on-going” task. Cut off dried and finished flower heads and pull away the debris around the base of the plant in preparation for adding compost to the soil after the ground starts to freeze.
- Clean out the annual flower beds – it’s time. There will be precious little growth and enjoyment from these flowers any more this season and I would rather do this while the weather is pleasant. Get them completely cleaned out and you can put some compost on them right away and work it in (saves time in the spring).
- Plant fall mums in my garden for seasonal color. I have a lot of different sizes of mums here at The Bayside – some in quart containers which are great for sprucing up a window box, container or a small spot in your garden. Mums are great this time of year – they will certainly take light frosts and will bring enjoyment right into November.
- Write down the “notes to self” regarding what worked, what didn’t and what you want to change up for next year. I don’t know how many times I have looked at my hosta plants this time of year and said to self “I’m going to move this one, and this one and this one – in the spring” and by spring, I’m scratching my head trying to remember which ones I wanted to move. So this fall, I am definitely going to write down what I want to move in my perennial beds, what annuals did well, what vegetable varieties I will replant, etc.
Okay, that’s it for now – I better get to the garden and get some of those above mentioned tasks underway!! Happy Fall Gardening to all of you.