16 September 2009
In The Garden With the Fluvanna Master Gardeners
By Irene C. Burke - Fluvanna Master Gardener
Fluvanna County Extension Office: 434.591.1950
Some of our avid readers have requested a mix of topics for one article. Seems theyre hooked on the tip of the week. One-subject, lengthy columns dont always satisfy. This autumn collection should help.
Ready a compost area for fall yard waste. Create the heap as a free standing 3 x 3 foot pile; purchase a bin, or enclose your heap on 3 sides with hay bales, up-ended discarded wooden pallets, or reinforced fencing.
Prune or disrupt the nests of fall webworms from birch, cherry, American elm, hickory, maple, American sweetgum, and willow; leave some hanging for birds and insect predators to feast on.
Remove, clean and store plant supports. Clean metal equipment with a brass brush and an isopropyl alcohol swab, then hone and lubricate all cutting edges. Sharpen mower blades.
Refresh potting earth with a half and half mix of compost and garden soil. Use the mix for woody plant propagation including roses and herb cuttings, cool weather vegetables, and flowering autumn annuals.
Try an Internet search for seed companies that say veggies will thrive in containers. Design the planting for maximum light, as this will affect vigor. Use darker colored containers to absorb and retain the suns heat.
For larger containers, assigned to sheltered outdoor space, surround with large bubble wrap covered with burlap.
Stockpile cardboard paper tubes from kitchen and bathroom to shield spring seedlings from cutworms. Save translucent plastic jugs for late winter sowing.
Improve soil structure with a 4" mulch of coarse, half finished compost, shredded leaves and leaf mold. Incorporate finished compost to areas where planting will continue with cool weather vegetables or fall blooming perennials.
Plant peony roots, at 1.5 to 2-inch depths, no more. Clear debris from peony beds; cut foliage to the ground after the first hard frost; lightly cover the area with shredded leaves.
Autumn is generally considered primetime to establish trees and shrubs. Best practices include enlarging the planting hole to 3 times the width of the root ball; soaking the roots in water to remove compacted soil, then draping the roots over an earthen mound so that the planting lies flush or an inch above the holes horizon; backfill with native soil or in the case of dense clay replace entirely with topsoil then mulch with 3 to 4 inches of arborist wood chips, 3 inches from the plants main support.
Realign your local critters line-of-commute. Apply noxious repellants and deer netting. Change-up the odorous repellants frequently.
Prepare storage for summer bulbs with labeled, sawdust filled mesh bags and old baskets. Follow care directions for each bulb type, as conditions like temperature may differ.
Check garden centers for end-of-season bargains. Despite appearances the plant may be healthy if there is green growth at the crown and firm roots with some white threads within. Use the same bare root planting method as for shrubs and trees.
Do not prune or fertilize heavily in late summer or early autumn as this will delay dormancy and promote new growth, which will be injured by a hard freeze.
Tip of the Week
Final call for bulb orders; prepare bare planting sites with compost and mulch. Try the 5 to 6 inch extra-early miniature narcissus Tte--Tte, a charming longer lasting alternative to crocus. Hide the fading daffodils with grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum). Plant in groups of 50 for a two month splash March through April.