9/27/13: In the garden this week

Just one of the reasons why it's called red maple

OK–I’m cheating. This photo was taken in the Thielke Arboretum here in Glen Rock, not in my garden. My site is much too dry for most ferns and for red maple.

The lovely cool weather continues, and rainfall amounts have been normal over the past month and year. I heard on NPR today that the season has been absolutely perfect for apples and that New York State will have its best apple harvest ever. So put apple picking and pie baking on your list of things to do this fall.

I am going on vacation soon, so this will be my last weekly update for a while. Here’s a list of tasks you might consider over the next few weeks:

– keep the grass long (3″ or more) to reduce mowing times. Mow with a mulching mower and leave the clippings on the lawn, where they will serve as natural fertilizer. There is no need to water unless you are also reseeding. Remember that the lawn will be in active growth as long as the temperature is above about 40 degress F.

– fall is the time to renew your lawn. If you fertilize your lawn (although this is not something I recommend), this is a good time to do it, using a slow-release organic product. If patches need reseeding, buy seed, sow it, and keep the newly sown patches damp. The weather is perfect. If you have places where grass won’t grow, consider planting something else there next spring!

– as perennials finish blooming, leave the dead flowers on the plants. Collect seeds as they ripen; let most remain to feed the birds during the winter. For most perennials, I will not remove any growth until early next spring.

– think about next year’s perennial garden: what needs to be cut back, moved, divided, replanted? The same goes for the vegetable garden: what did well or poorly? what pests or diseases appeared this season? what would you like to have more of?

– pick cool-weather crops such as greens and peas that you planted in late summer. Allow winter squash to ripen after harvesting.

— Pull up and discard (do not compost) warm-weather plants such as cucumbers, squash, beans, and tomatoes that are attacked by insects or disease. Start cleaning up the vegetable garden: remove warm-weather plants as they stop producing.

– Take advantage of the relatively cool weather to do garden chores: carry out remedial or cosmetic pruning as needed.



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