11/1/13: In the garden this week

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Please excuse the bad photo–the wind was blowing and the little blue flowers I was focusing on sway in the slightest breeze. But aren’t those blue harebells (Campanula rotundifolia) lovely? they bloomed throughout June and July and are now reblooming with all their might (and as you can see, my favorite Rudbeckia, R. triloba) never stopped). The harebell is definitely on my list of plants to buy more of next spring. Notice the lovely red color on the Penstemon as well. Many native perennials turn brilliant colors in fall.

Now that the gardening season is just about over, take time to review the season, clean up the garden carefully, and continue to do routine chores like weeding. Here are the chores you might consider in the coming weeks:

– continue to harvest your fall vegetable garden: cool-weather crops such as lettuce, arugula, peas, and mustards (brassicas).

– 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 (see below).

– early fall was the time to renew your lawn. If you fertilize your lawn (although this is not something I recommend), do it soon, before the lawn goes dormant, using a slow-release organic product. If patches have been reseeded, continue to water them until the temperature stays below 40 degrees.

— if you have places where grass won’t grow, consider planting something else 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 next 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?

– allow winter squash to ripen after harvesting.

— we have had a killing frost, so remove dead plants: tender annual flowers such as marigolds and nasturtiums, eggplants, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes. Compost healthy plant material, discard plants that were attacked by insects or disease.

– take advantage of the relatively cool weather to do garden chores, such as fall cleanup, but do not prune now that woody plants are actively shedding their leaves. Now that we’re getting some rain, do some weeding.

collect the leaves you need for the coming year’s compost pile

— many trees and shrubs can be planted in fall, but be sure to provide winter protection (mulch) and to keep watering until the ground freezes and again in spring if needed

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