Saturday, October 23, 2010

Garden Prep

Fall is a time for enjoying the last of the summer flowers and the advent of shrubs that are coming into season but it's also an excellent time to begin prep for the upcoming spring. Vegetable gardeners can dig under their finished crops and add other amendments such as compost, hay, manure and worm castings. Consider planting a cover crop during the winter months. Choices include fava beans, mustard, clover, hairy vetch and alfalfa. And of course, keep up with turning the materials in your compost bin or pile.
As I'm primarily a flower gardener, fall is the time to get organized for the coming late winter/early spring season. I'm pulling out the last of my spring & summer annuals and using the opportunity to amend any vacant areas in my beds. Gardening is all about the soil. Part of my late fall ritual is hauling out pots from the summer-dry storage area that contain winter & spring bulbs. These are mainly South African bulbs such as lachenalias (cowslips), species gladiolas and ferrarias. I even noticed last week, in the beginning of October, that one of my lachenalias had sent up multiple shoots! No one seems able to predict what plants will do in this year of the weird weather.
For those of us with perennial beds, it's not too early to begin top dressing with soil amendments and compost.
And for you bird lovers, now is a good time to supplement local birds' diets with appropriate bird food. Hang a hummingbird feeder if you don't have one, restock your bird feeders with a high quality birdseed and for those of you who love goldfinches, buy a sock feeder and fill with nyjer seed (commonly available). You'll have a colony of these very sociable, colorful birds at this feeder in no time.

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