Monthly Good Gardening Guide
Plants to Plant: Bulbs
Buy and plant spring flowering bulbs now for beautiful spring color. Try growing garlic- Grow garlic in soil that drains easily and that is combined with a bit of rich compost. (If your soil is too heavy, try growing garlic in raised beds filled with potting soil and compost). To plant, carefully break the grower garlic bulb into cloves. Space the cloves 4 to 6-inches apart and place them scab end down; then cover the bulbs with 1-inch of soil. Additionally, covering them with mulch keeps the cloves warm in the winter months. Find garlic bulbs at your favorite garden center among other spring flowering bulbs.
For a colorful show in spring, sow wildflowers now in autumn. Make sure the area is weed free. For best results - several weeks before sowing wildflower seeds, kill the weed seeds by pre-germinating them. Do this by simply watering the soil so the weed seeds germinate and grow, then hoe them down or pull the weeds out.
Click to Skip to the...
October Good Gardening Guide
Start with a 10-inch or larger seed pan filled with potting soil. In the pot, plant small 6-pacs of green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce etc. It's also nice to tuck edible flowers like Johnny Jump-Ups among the crispy greens. Now watch your garden grow. This pot makes a great centerpiece for guests to snip and serve themselves. The mixed greens and edible flowers are a unique garnish.
Upkeep: Divide Perennials
It's time to divide agapanthus, bearded iris, daylilies, primroses, Shasta daisies, candytuft, coreopsis, rudbeckia, yarrow, callas, daisies, bellflowers, asters, penstemon and many other varieties. Dig and divide plants if they are weak, crowded or had smaller than normal blossoms during the blooming season. When dug up, use a knife, spade or clippers to make several plants out of the one. You can see the divisions of these plants by the natural separation of the tubers or roots. Clean off the old dirt, then plant new divisions in containers or back into the earth. Water well.
To get annuals off to a strong start, feed them with a nitrogen fertilizer or organic fish emulsion. Make sure you moisten the soil first. Or, if using a dry fertilizer, water the plants thoroughly after applying the fertilizer. Feeding now gives way to healthy foliage and lots of blooms.
Collect Fallen Fall Leaves
Pick up fallen autumn leaves so as not to spread possible disease, but save the perfect ones. Press those beauties in the Good Gardening Flower Press (see the detailed list 'Fun Flower Press' to make your own) or in between the pages of the phone book. Use these pressed leaves as place cards for seasonal dinner parties. With a felt pen, inscribe the name of each guest on individual leaves.
November Good Gardening Guide
It seems when the month of November arrives the possibility of one more day of sun worshipping is over. Alas, the garden season is ending or is it? There are still a few things one can do in the garden, so gleefully get out there and plant. Perhaps surprisingly, spring blooming bedding plants (pansies, Iceland poppy, primroses, cyclamen, sweet William etc.) planted now in November, will be more floriferous than if planted in the springtime. The length of their season is also greatly increased.
Why does planting spring blooming plants now make them better performers than spring blooming varieties planted in spring? Very simply, they will grow stronger root systems this winter, which makes them more vigorous bloomers.
Along with small bedding plants, plant seasonal and colorful ornamental kale and cabbage plants. These gorgeous and unusually textural beauties will add instant color to your fall and winter garden.
If your gardening plot is coast side would you believe it's a great time to plant strawberries? Plant them on mounds spreading out their roots. Plant the crown of the plant, that's the center of plant where the roots and stems meet, slightly above soil level. This will decrease the chances of crown rot and still insures the roots from drying out. Slow release fertilizer, high in nitrogen and placed an inch or so below their roots is what strawberries enjoy. Clear plastic on the sides of the rows helps to keep the soil warm. And yes, watch out for hungry snails, Yuck!
Unlike strawberries, cymbidium orchids are not fond of the cold. Move them under the eaves for warmth and feed them low-nitrogen liquid orchid fertilizer every two weeks.
Also not fond of cold are young citrus trees. Wrap their trunks in burlap to protect them from frost, removing the burlap in spring. Spraying their tender leaves with an antitranspirant is also useful when protecting them from pending frost.
November is a great time to bring the garden indoors. There's a huge selection of cyclamen in the nurseries now. Originally from the cool climate of Persia, cyclamen dry out easily with dry indoor heat. That's why it's important to keep these babies well watered and mist them often, if not daily, with water. Also available are miniature cyclamen, which are sometimes fragrant. Miniature cyclamen also tend to tolerant dry, warm indoor conditions a bit better than their larger counterparts.
Forcing spring blooming bulbs (amaryllis, narcissus and hyacinth) in water brings the garden indoors too. Simply fill a container with rocks or other decorative supportive materials. Then set the bulb or bulbs on top of the rocks (if using multiple bulbs pack them in like sardines for a profusion of color). Next, fill the container with water just so that the bottom of the bulb is barely getting water. Set the rig in a cool dark place for about 3 weeks, then when the roots sprout, move it to a cool, but sunny spot and watch the show.
Or, simply set one bulb in a forcing vase filled with water. Forced bulbs usually do not re-bloom, so throw them in the compost pile.
Lastly, there's still time to continue planting spring blooming bulbs outside too.