Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Garden Newsletter

Dear Gardeners,

You’ve waited. You shied from the blast-furnace heat, waiting for this time. Fall planting season has arrived and you can immerge from your summer hiding places; Come out of heat hibernation. If you haven’t already, wash off that trowel, throw those dirty old garden gloves in the next load of laundry, and slip on your work clogs and overalls. Your garden is calling you! Don’t wait to heed it’s call… go now (or at least right after you read this newsletter)!

October Checklist:

1. LESS IS MORE. When the nights have become comfortable and enjoyable again, then it is time to remember to reduce water to your landscape material. Failing to do so, encourages plant disease and infestation and will weaken your flora over time. However, the trick is not to do it too soon, since our days are still climbing into the triple digits. When the days start staying in the 90’s, change your watering system. A good time to do it? Right before the kids leave to go trick-or-treating. Until then, continue to water deeply and infrequently.

2. NO PAIN, NO GAIN. Turn off the water to your summer grass if you intend to plant winter grass. It’s good to let it sit dry for 7-10 days before verticutting and overseeding. This allows your Bermuda to go into dormancy so that it won’t be competing for nutrients and water with your perennial rye (which is not perennial here at all). While turning off the water to the lawn, you can maniacally scream, “Die, Bermuda. DIE!” I think it helps.

3. YOU LOOK GOOD. HAVE YOU LOST WEIGHT? If you are a good little trimmer (and you probably are) then you have waited all through the hot months to prune up your landscape plants, no matter how straggly they’ve become. Removing excess weight growth strengthens your plants. Get out and prune. Your landscape will thank you. It is finally time to de-burden your trees and shrubs with a nice hard trim. How do we know it is time? We know because the nights are becoming comfortable and enjoyable again, and the daytime temps drop into the 90’s. Don’t jump the gun, however, wait until those daytime temps are consistently in the 90’s… a few weeks. Plant that garden first.

4. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. If you took my advice last month and cast wildflower seeds, make sure you give them a little water every 5-10 days. You’ll be glad you did, when they offer their thanks in the spring. If you didn’t plant wildflowers last month and would still like to… HURRY UP! Get out there this week, if possible.

5. INSULATION IS A GOOD THING. Mulch all exposed bare soil. It insulates the roots from the heat of the day now, and the cold of the nights later. It encourages microbiotic activity. It improves the soil beneath it. It is a safe fertilizer for our still-hot days. It never causes fertilizer-burn, because it is a gentle lover. It acts as a natural fertilizer. It locks in moisture, reducing water use. It makes your plants say, “Thank you, that’s mulch, mulch better!” As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a Good Thing.”

6. GO CRAZY, BUT NOT MENTALLY SO. It’s time to go crazy with the planting. If you are putting in a fall garden, head over to your local nursery and pick up seeds. Take a garden buddy. Nobody really needs to plant 1500 seeds of lettuce (roughly how many come in one packet). Split the cost, share the pack. It may not seem helpful with a $2 pack of seeds, but if you are planting 20 different items in your garden, then your seed cost just became $40. Share the love. It’s also time to plant spring flowering bulbs (hooray!!!!), winter grass, trees, shrubs, vines, cool season flowers, strawberries, and kindness. Go crazy!

7. SOONER IS BETTER. When choosing your seeds, choose varieties that develop quickly. For instance at I found Park's Bush Whopper II Cucumber which matures in 61 days. However, they also carried Cool Breeze Cucumber which matures in 45 days. Choose the variety that matures fastest, that still suits your needs, in this case, Cool Breeze. Use this method when choosing your seeds, and you won’t regret it. Why? Because our growing season is short. We want our plants to mature quickly because ripening won’t occur once the temps fall too far down the thermometer. Remember: We are trying to grow plants that are for summer everywhere else, in our short fall weather. It’s a race against the clock.

8. MAKE A PLAN, AND STICK TO IT. Reiterating what I have said in past newsletters, having a garden plan will save you money, time, frustration, and heartache. Make the plan before you shop, and stick to it.

9. THE WRITER’S MIND NEVER WHITHERS. Again, reiterating, but it’s worthy of saying. Keep a garden journal. Note what varieties you planted and where. Keep a basic calendar, too. If you find that weather changes prevented your tomatoes from reddening this year, then next year you can plant them a week or two earlier, if you kept a journal of when you planted. If you find that Beefsteak Tomatoes took too long to grow this year, and therefore didn’t yield a harvest, then next year you can plant a different variety, if you kept a journal of your experiences. Note: This step is unnecessary for those of you with perfect memories, who never forget anything, who have never been at a loss for someone’s name, never failed to attend an event due to forgetting because you were busy, never forgot to send your child with lunch money or sign their homework, never forgot to get an annual physical, never had to go back to the store for the 1 forgotten item, and who would remember the name of the variety of beets you planted (even though you read it only once when you opened the envelope) nor that you planted it on September 17th, etc. Can you remember details for a year? Then no need to journal. Everyone else: Keep a journal!!!! I use one of those old calendars that my kids made me for Christmas at school. I just write in the little squares in green ink what I planted on that date, and in red ink what I harvested on that date. Easy peasy.

Thus ends the October Newsletter. Keep an eye open for the “Suggestions” portion later. I am tight on time with the kids out of school and don’t want to hold off on publishing this half while you wait.

Hands dirty,

5 Garden Reflections:

Cheryl said...

I just threw out my wildflower seeds yesterday! It was our first "cool" day! California poppies and African daisies...

Jennifer P. said...

Well my fellow This Mortal Coil lover....thank you for the garden advice! Loved it! This was my first year to do a patch in my garden of wildflower seeds and I LOVED them! So fun to see what came up, and what will be making a return next year!

Somewhere on my blog playlist are also Cocteau Twins, Belly, Throwing Muses, The Sundays.....aaaaah! good old early 90's stuff :) .

Thanks for stopping in!

~Jennifer P.

Anonymous said...

Hi Trish!!

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog to say hi!! I'm already loving the saucy SITStahood!! So fun meeting new blog friends. I'll be back to visit. Your blog is adorable. :) ~Jill

Anonymous said...

Great tips thanks! Enjoying your blog.

Elra said...

Wow, this is wonderful.
I just found your web site and glad to found your garden site. News letter is great and thank you for sharing!