Hort Blog from Scott Guiser, the fearless leader of the Master Gardeners. He is located in the Delaware Valley Area of Pennsylvania.
Fall will probably always have a hard time competing with spring when it comes to generating gardening enthusiasm. I guess there is some natural rhythm that encourages us to plant in spring. But fall planting has many benefits.
Fall is a perfect time for lawn care. As a serious Philadelphia Phillies fan I have been listening to one of the major turf product suppliers telling me to “feed and seed” my lawn in almost every radio broadcast since March. Well, as the old saying goes, “Even a stopped watch is right twice a day." That fellow was on target in late spring… and again now.
September might be the ideal month for new lawn seedings but Penn State guidelines say seeding until October 15 is fine and we can stretch this deadline to late October successfully in Southeastern PA . One of the best reasons to establish new lawns in fall is to avoid the competition of summer annual weeds such as crabgrass. Crabgrass germinates and competes with spring seedings but not in the fall. The warm, moist soil is ideal for germination and root growth. Spring is a poor second choice when it comes to lawn establishment. A word of advice: simply tossing grass seed on the soil surface will not result in germination. That seed needs to be inthe soil, not on it. See this Penn State publication for details on renovation seeding.
Weed control and fertilization are two maintenance tasks that are best done in the fall. Weeds translocate herbicides very well as they approach dormancy. This means good weed control because the root systems of perennial weeds are killed. Controlling weeds is the fall means virtually weed-free lawns in spring. Clover, dandelion and other broadleaves weeds are pretty easy to control with modern chemistries available in the garden center. October is a great month to go at it. Weed and feed products can kill two birds with one stone. But generally, sprayed on herbicides provide better control of broadleaved weeds.
If you have not applied some nitrogen fertilizer this fall, do it ASAP. You’ll be rewarded with good plant response this fall as well as next spring. Fertilization may be the best weed control practice you can perform. Dense turf competes with weed invaders. How much fertilizer should you apply? Label instructions will get you in the ball park. For a more precise approach, you can get a Penn State soil test kit hereand follow the recommendations. Ever applied lime to your lawn? If not, there's a good chance that this cheap pH adjuster will pay off. Soil tests will advise on this, too. If you are guessing… 50 lbs of ground limestone per 1000 square feet is a starting point.
Plant bulbs now. This is certainly a case of practicing delayed gratification. It will be months before you see the fruits of your labor. But, you can’t have that glorious spring display of daffodils and tulips if you aren’t willing to go to work now! Plants lots for best effect. Think in terms of 25, 50 and 100.
Odds and ends. What better time to be in the garden than on a cool sunny day in fall? Here’s a list of some other tasks suited to the season:
Kill perennial weeds. Canada thistle, bindweed, poison ivy. As long as they have green leaves they are great targets for translocated herbicides such as glyphosate (Roundup, etc).
Start a compost pile. Tree leaves, brush, garden clean up stuff.. they all make great ingredients for a compost pile. For the basics check out this publicationfrom Illinois Extension. This cool Cornell University videogoes into details and this Cornell publicationhas even more good composting information.
Winterize garden equipment. Why not put all of that summer garden gear to bed in good condition? Clean and sharpen shovels, hoes and other hand equipment. Rub some linseed oil into wooden handles. Service power equipment. Drain and hang hoses. Empty and store flower pots and other containers.
Seed cover crops into vacant vegetable garden beds. Rye is probably the best all around winter cover for our area. Find it at farm supply stores. Rye can be seeded until the middle of November and makes a dense, winter hardy ground cover. Spade that overwintered rye into the soil in early spring before it gets too tall. You’ll be amazed at the massive root system it creates.
Hort Blog from Scott Guiser, the fearless leader of the Master Gardeners.
This is from Hort Blog by Scott Guiser, a master gardener
1. Keep planting in the vegetable garden.
Wise gardeners already have an eye towards the fall harvest season. After Labor Day, tomatoes are on their last legs, zucchini are about shot (or you are sick of them), and summer diseases have ravaged the vine crops. By planting cool loving crops in July and August, you can extend the gardening season to Thanksgiving… and beyond. Beets and carrots can be seeded in July and early August for fall harvest. Cabbage family crops such as broccoli and cauliflower can be transplanted at this time. Check out garden centers for transplants. Also, in places where peas, radish, lettuce, broccoli and other early maturing crops have petered out, consider seeding quick maturing crops like beans and summer squash which can mature in 50-60 days from seed. For a good guide to seeding dates and culture of many vegetable see Penn State’s publication, Vegetable Gardening.
2. Try something new.
Ever eat Kohlrabi? Rutabaga? Arugula? You might be surprised to find you love them. Each of these is a great addition to the summer vegetable garden and will be ready for fall harvest. Even if your tastes are not adventurous, you’ll surely find a new kind of lettuce in the gardening catalog. My new garden plant this year is Johnny’s Seeds Salanova lettuces. Check it out! These varieties would make a great addition to the fall garden. Seed in early-mid August.
Oh, and I had to try tomato varieties called Paul Robeson and Blue Beech!
Ok, not into vegetables? How about flowers? If you want to see what’s new in annual flowers, take a ride out to Penn State’s Flower Trials in Landisville, PA (near Lancaster). More than 1000 cultivars are beautifully displayed and labeled. The public is welcome to visit on weekdays throughout the summer. This place is a “must do” on my summer calendar. There is a one-day special Summer Garden Experience on July 27 with guided tours of the farm, speakers, and special displays. The event is free but parking is ten bucks.
3. Kill poison ivy.
Poison ivy in bloom
Perhaps only a card carrying member of the Northeast Weed Science Society (like me) would put this on their list of summer fun but there it is. Fact is, mid-summer ‘til frost is an ideal time to tackle this weed. The herbicides triclopyr and glyphosate are the best materials for this job. Triclopyr is found in several products sold in garden centers, sometimes sold as Poison Ivy Killer. In some products, it is pre-mixed with glyphosate. Products containing triclopyr alone will kill poison ivy but will not damage turf grasses. Glyphosate products are “non-selective” and will injure all plants that are contacted. As always follow label instructions. For a more complete discussion of poison ivy, see this.
4. Harvest and enjoy garlic.
July harvested garlic
Ok if you didn’t plant garlic last fall you won’t be harvesting your own this July. In this case, make finding a source of locally grown garlic your mission. Farmers markets and garlic festivals are good places to find some locally adapted “stinking rose”. For those of us with garlic, the rule is to harvest when about 60 % of the leaves have turned brown. Usually this is about the 4th of July… or a bit later. Hang the harvested garlic in a warm, well ventilated place out of the sun such as the rafters of a garage and let them dry down for a few weeks. Then trim the tops off… about an inch above the head and store at room temperature. Of course, enjoy some of that fresh juicy garlic right away. If heads of garlic got a bit over-mature, save these for fall planting or eat right away. Be sure to give a head or two to friends and encourage them to join the garlic growing gang.
5. Plan for late summer turf renovations.
Kids like lawns
Penn State agronomists continually remind us that late summer is the best time to renovate an old lawn or start a new lawn from scratch. Why? Because conditions are excellent for grass seed germination and this is followed by perfect condition for continued growth. Soil is warm, days are cooling, weed pressure is reduced, rainfall is plentiful… perfect for our cool season turfgrass species such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue and fine fescues. So, set a target date in the last week of August or the first week of September. Follow guidelines in Penn State’s lawn renovation fact sheet . You’ll want to be prepared with soil fertility information (pH, nutrient and organic matter levels), so soil test in July or early August.See this to learn how to submit sample to Penn State for analysis.
6. Pinch and Prune
While the old saying “prune when the knife is sharp” may be a bit too liberal, the window of opportunity to prune is wider than most folks think. Forsythia over grown? Prune it. Missed thinning out the Wigelia? Do it in July. Didn’t pinch the mums? No wonder they are so straggly! I weed whack my Nipponanthemum nipponicum every 4th of July to keep the plants compact and the bloom upright. Late summer is probably not an idea time to do major pruning but July has some good possibilities. Here is a great Penn State guide to pruning woody landscape plants.
7. Start a compost pile.
Two bin turning unit
As summer progresses, mounds of organic matter begin to accumulate. Grass clippings, garden cleanup stuff, melon rinds and corn husks from a picnic…. all great stuff for a compost pile. If composting is new to you, here is one of many great guides that will get you started. Turn that trash into treasure. It’s black gold for the garden. If you encounter compost questions as you go, please call us at Bucks County Extension (215-345-3283) to discuss your situation.
8. Visit gardens and arboreta near and far.
If a picture is worth a thousand words imagine the volumes of information you will get by visiting a new garden. This might be a friend’s place down the street or the bulb display inKeukenhof ! Well, save the Keukenhof trip for next Spring. But you don’t have to go to Holland to see world-class gardens. Longwood, Chanticleer, Scott Arboretum, Henry Schmieder Arboretum, Burpee’s Fordhook Farm and many, many more outstanding places in our neighborhood will provide a shot of garden inspiration. Plan to visit one interesting place this summer. Don’t forget Penn State’s Trial Gardens in Landisville.
9. Find a place to plant a tree this fall.
Balled and Burlap Tree Planting
I have been appreciating some of the trees that Penn State Master Gardeners have planted in our Almshouse Arboretum over the last 6 years. It’s amazing how fast they grow. Maybe your own property doesn’t need a tree. I’ll bet you can find a place that does. Schools, parks, churches, municipal grounds and other public places need trees. Get involved. Start a tree planting program of your own… or join an existing one like PHS’s Plant One Million .
Fall is an excellent time to plant trees and shrubs. What to plant? You’ll find good suggestions here .
10. Hug a bug.
Ok, not literally…. but consider doing something nice for an insect. And you don’t have to become a beekeeper to do some good.
For some people, hugging a bug seems counter-intuitive. All bugs are bad to some folks. Certainly gardeners experience their share of destructive insects. Most of us have been stung, literally once or twice in our lives and this leaves a lasting impression. But the vast majority of insects we meet are nice creatures… simply going about their business. And some researchers are pointing out that we may be taking for granted the “free services” that many insects provide, especially the insects that serve as pollinators…. the bugs that move pollen from flower to flower. In many cases, this service is an essential part of seed and fruit production. Lots of these insects are bees….all kinds of bees. Tiny ones and big bumblebee-like ones and everything in between. Most of us will never know their names.
So how can you figuratively hug a bug. Plant them something they like! Make it part of your garden. Herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees can all serve as food and shelter for insects. Want more information? See this. I found this very nice guide by poking around the site. Really into it? Get your garden certified as pollinator friendly.
from Hort Blog by Scott Guiser, a master gardener
Yes it is time for Mums. We have a variety of bright colors for fall.
Some Chrysanthemums can survived for the next year. Pinch the tops a few times during the summer growth season to make them bushier and it will result by giving you more flowers.