The garry oak around our property provide cooling shade in summer & spooky interest in winter. In the autumn, they’re good for a great cardio workout.
- Let the raking begin!
- For some unknown reason I get a kick out of running the leaf blower. During dry weeks it works great for piling leaves. And performs better than the rake on rocky hillsides. When the apple leaves fall, they’re a snap to blow directly into the flower beds (they mulch down so quickly I put them straight to where they can do some good.)
- Even though our average first frost is November 5, we could get cold snap any time. Begonias & Dahlias will collapse & turn black in response. Some folks dig them out & bring them inside for the winter. I’m happy that our garden is well-drained, so there’s less chance of them rotting in the ground… And I mulch heavily in the winter to protect them from freezing… so they’re fairly safe.
(Also, I’m lazy that way.)
- It’s a balance between keeping the watering hose out as long as it’s needed & getting it inside before the freeze. (The fall rains haven’t been enough to soak in more than an inch at most, so it’s still very dry). Realistically the hoses will survive a frost, so as soon as the Dahlias drop dead & turn black, I know it’s time to quit watering & bring the hose inside….
- Ditto for blowing out the irrigation sprinklers
- Bulbs! Woo hoo! Go nuts… extend seasonal interest, especially through the dark months:
January – snowdrops…
February – crocus… hardy cyclamen… iris reticulata… winter aconite…
March – chionodoxa… narcissus…
April – fawn lily… daffodils… tulips
May – camas… . grape hyacinth…
- Any of the spring blooming perennials that have grown out of their space are ripe for dividing once the ground is moist enough to dig comfortably
eg. iris… red hot pokers… peony… hosta
- This is also an optimum time to take a look for plants that aren’t performing as well as they should. I like to get multiples when adding a new species into the garden. That way I can plant it in 2-3 places to find out where it’s happiest. Every autumn I ‘move around the furniture’. 🙂
- Planting trees or shrubs now, while the soil is still warm, gives their roots time to establish before the dormant season. They’ll need regular watering until the weather gets really wet, but they’ll be that much further ahead than if I wait until the spring to plant / move.
- After the flowers finish up, the plant sets seed. Before the pods open I like to pick & distribute them into areas where more are welcome next year
eg. snapdragon… goldenrod… lychnis…
- And now it’s time to think about leaving some of the blooms on the plants, to produce bird feed for the winter
ie: dusty miller… yarrow… rudbeckia…
- As the roses finish up, prune them back by 1/3 for the winter. Hold off until the forsythia blooms in March to prune them fully.
- Now’s also a good time to tidy up the summer flowering shrubs
eg. weigela… escallonia…
- Wisteria can be cut back to side branches with 2-3 leaves for better spring-flowering
- If growing in a spot that gets strong winter winds, reduce the height of the Butterfly Bush & Lavatera, but otherwise save the pruning until spring.
- Keep those pruners & clippers sharp
- It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a 10% bleach + water mixture. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.
- The lawn is green again, but the falling leaves are brown. The clippings are a great combo for the compost bin.
- Mowing the lawn just a little shorter than usual certainly makes raking all the leaves & acorns easier.
Veg / Berry Patch (& Orchard)
- It’s clean up time in the veggie patch. Compost any of the annuals that have finished, but garbage any foliage that has mildew or disease on it (it’s best to keep it out of the garden cycle)
- Some tender plants will survive longer if they’re protected under row covers
- Plant garlic now for a crop to harvest next July
- It’s harvest time for late tomatoes… and apples… and pumpkin!,… squash… salad greens… beets…. carrots… cabbage… kale… chard… leeks…
- Dig the potatoes as the foliage dies back. Leave them to dry indoors if it’s wet outside.
- The herbs are finishing, too! Cut 6 inch young stems, bind into bunches, then store them in a paper bag in a warm dry place for a couple of weeks to dry
- Remove the last of the leaves around the tomato fruit so it gets more sun for ripening. If it’s looking like we’ll be hit with a frost, cut down the tomato skeleton with the green tomatoes still on it & bring it inside. Hang it in a cool, dry room & check regularly as the fruit continues to mature 🙂
- Save some seed from the best plants for next year’s stock
- Bay trees & young rosemary are too tender to survive outside, so if you want to keep them, find some space inside for them
- Large Rhubarb can be divided now to rejuvenate & increase production
- Cut back the asparagus to about an inch & mulch well over it. (Like rhubarb, it’s a heavy feeder)
- The tall stalks of the sun-chokes can be cut back now. The tubers survive well in the ground, so they can be harvested as you need them
- The vines grew like crazy all summer benefit from being fastened to the trellis before the wicked winds & wild storms hit.
- Tidy up the greenhouse & any of the plants intended to overwinter there. Any powdery mildew or other disease will spread while my attention is elsewhere & put everything at risk
- Even an unheated greenhouse does the trick for overwintering tender plants like some of the sedums that I couldn’t resist
- I remove any annuals from the hanging baskets, but choose to keep the fuchsia. I find they overwinter in the greenhouse just fine & are happy next year with fresh potting mix.
- Clean any freshly emptied pots in bleachy wash water. No sense storing possible virus over winter + so nice in spring to start planting without having to clean up first.
Ponds & Water Gardens
- Clear out any of the annual floating plants before they end up rotting & sinking to the bottom
- Move water lilies into deeper water where they’re less likely to freeze
- Stretch a fine net over the pond to keep the leaves out of the water. They’ll mush up & cause all sorts of mess in pumps.
trees: ginkgo(maidenhair tree)… Japanese maple…… chestnut… apple…
shrubs: beauty berry… heavenly bamboo… berberis… cotoneaster… smoke bush… burning bush… Choisya ternada (Mexican Orange)… hydrangea… Oregon grape… hardy fuchsia… penstemon… lavatera… snowberry…strawberry tree...
perennials: toad lily (tricyrtis)… Virginia creeper… chrysanthemum… rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan)… asters… echinacea…. agapanthus… sedum autumn joy… yarrow… hickory… Japanese anemone… dahlias… salvia… erysimum (wall flower)…
ferns: sword… deer… licorice…
bulbs: nerine lily… fall cyclamen…. tigridia…
Planning & Events
- Saltspring Island Apple Festival is usually the first Sunday in October.
- Wild mushrooms grow like crazy at this time of year & Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary can always be counted on for interacting with local experts.
- The Compost Education Centre has lots of information on soil science, growing food & (of course) composting. It’s so nice to soak up a free workshop (or two).
© SVSeekins, 2014