October Gardening Tips!

Gardening Advice

General Gardening Tips

Tidy borders

Keep on weeding and have a gentle tidy up in your borders but do try to resist the temptation of a thorough spring clean. Leave seedheads for the birds if you don’t want to collect them and as much cover as you can bear for wildlife who will appreciate the winter shelter.

Fallen leaves can be left to rot down (or collected for leaf mould), however diseased material is another matter; make it a priority to clear and burn it to prevent pests and diseases overwintering courtesy of your kind hospitality! Put the rest of your garden rubbish (apart from woody stems) in the compost.

Start your compost

If you haven’t already done so, start your compost going by buying a bin or building a partially enclosed area for a heap. It is vital to replace the goodness in soil after a hefty growing season and autumn produces masses of garden waste that will put invaluable organic richness back into the ground for next spring. Add a variety of different materials; spent vegetable and bedding plants, herbaceous leftovers, thatch, moss and cuttings from the lawn, weeds (but not the roots unless they have been through a shredder), hedge clippings, kitchen peelings and tea bags are ideal.

Turn once a week or so if you can and NEVER add diseased or pest-ridden material (such as diseased rose petals – heinous culprits) to your compost – it is a warm and welcoming nirvana for unwelcome guests who will reappear with a vengeance next year! Onto the bonfire with them without a qualm…

Clean out the greenhouse

It really is worth cleaning out your greenhouse thoroughly now your greenhouse crops are over; it will prevent pests from hibernating and leaping into action next spring! Wash the windows inside and out to allow maximum light in over the winter and scrub all benches, fixtures and glazing bars with disinfectant, making sure you hose the whole place down really well, especially dark and dusty corners. For effective fumigation, move all plants outside, shut the windows, light a sulphur candle in the middle of the floor, (retreat at speed!), shut the door and wait until the smoke and fumes have completely dispersed several hours later. Your greenhouse should now be pest free!

Prepare your soil for next year

Your soil is your most precious commodity, so start digging in compost, manure and as much organic matter as you can lay your hands on to replace the goodness in it. The earlier you start the better, especially if your soil is heavy. It can be left in a pretty rough state over the winter when the elements will break the clods down, making spring planting infinitely easier!

Watering

Hardly an issue at the moment! However, do keep an eye on your pots and containers in dry spells and check for wilting leaves before it is too late; all plants that keep their leaves continue to transpire, so should not be allowed to dry out completely.

Ensure trees or shrubs planted in the last couple of years on lawns or in areas of rough grass have a circle of clear earth around them – this should be kept clear to allow moisture to get to the roots. Mulching with bark or compost will help.

Planting

With the ideal planting conditions of autumn (warm moist soil), now is the time to plant container grown shrubstrees,fruit bushes, perennials and bulbs. Even in damp conditions it is worth checking the rootballs of shrubs and trees are adequately moist when planting – heavy rain will not necessarily penetrate a rootball that has been allowed to dry out, so if it feels light, plunge into a bucket of water before planting.

Rake fallen leaves

Don’t waste fallen leaves (except those perilous rose leaves and evergreens, which take too long to rot down) – given time they decompose into fabulously rich leaf mould – aka ‘nature’s soil conditioner of choice’! Rake up fallen leaves and chuck them into a simple frame to make leaf mould (black bin liners spiked with air holes will also do if you can bear the visual offense – but remember to dampen the leaves first). If left to linger on the lawn for long, the grass will turn yellow. Leaf mould takes about a year to mature (2 in the case of oak leaves), makes a great top dressing for woodland plants such as rhododendrons and is an excellent and FREE home-grown substitute for peat.

Gardening Advice

Treesshrubs and climbers

Plant

Trees (including fruit trees), hedgesshrubs and climbers, ensure they are well watered and check regularly to see they do not become loose. Firm in well, but beware over firming as this will drive out air from the soil and can be even more damaging than loose planting. Stake new plants if necessary to hold them firm against autumn winds.

Move conifers, evergreens and deciduous hedges

Move conifers, evergreens and hedges, digging in lots of organic matter around them. Water regularly, feed them in springtime with an organic fertiliser and if you live in an exposed or windy spot, stake them and protect with a windbreak of plastic mesh or something similar for the first year. Planting and moving any plant is far less traumatic for it whilst the soil is still warm. Dig as large a root ball as you can and wrap in hessian to move it with minimum disturbance. Ensure the new hole is large enough for the roots not to be squashed and the same depth as before. Remove the hessian gently, firm in the soil well with your feet as you fill the hole and water generously.

Prune tall shrubs

Prune tall shrubs such as lavatera and buddleja by about half to protect them against wind rock. Trim conifers again if necessary, making sure you do not cut into the old wood.

Roses

Remove any diseased, spindly, old and unproductive stems and remember to burn any diseased material. Tie new shoots onto some form of support to prevent their thrashing about in autumn winds.

Lavender

Trim back lavender bushes if you haven’t already done so

Gardening Advice

Lawns

Rule one – keep off when sodden!

Established lawns – whilst the grass is still growing keep mowing once a fortnight with the blades on high for the final few cuts. If you haven’t had time, carry out your autumn lawn care programme – scarify (rake out the old dead grass and moss) by hand (hard work!) or with a machine, spike to improve drainage again either by hand with a garden fork or with a machine, add a top dressing of soil/sand/compost mixed according to your soil type (ask for advice at your garden centre) and feed with autumn weed and moss killer. This low-nitrogen preparation strengthens grass for winter; do not use spring lawn feed as this encourages grass to grow and it may not survive the cold. After all this your lawn will look dreadful, but fear not, it will benefit enormously from the regime. Repair bumps, hollows, bald patches and broken edges too.

New lawns – October is the last chance for sowing grass seed and just about the best time for laying turf. Good preparation is vital for either: remove weeds and stones, dig over thoroughly, adding organic matter and fertiliser, rake smooth, firm by walking up and down and rake again at right angles, repeating the raking and firming process until the area is flat and the surface is a fine crumb texture. Sow seed according to the packet instructions and lay turf in a brick pattern so no joints are in line. Butt the turves together as tightly as you can and fill any gaps with sieved soil. Water well and keep off for 4 to 5 weeks.

Gardening Advice

Bulbs, flowers and containers

Bulbs

Finish planting spring bulbs such as narcissi and crocuses – tulips can wait until November. Choose plump firm bulbs and plant within a week of buying in a location with good drainage. Add grit if the soil is heavy and ensure pots and containers have plenty of crocks at the bottom. Bury bulbs at three times their own depth, tip upwards and ensure there are no air pockets around them. Use them to fill gaps in beds and borders, in formal gardens, in pots and containers, under shrubs and trees or naturalised in grass or woodland.

Make your life easier by investing in a strong good quality dibber and if you have a bad back, a long handled bulb planter.

For a natural look, throw handfuls of bulbs in the air and plant them where they land.

Lift and store tender plants

Frost is in the offing and some of us had a couple of nights below zero at the end of September…..no need to panic, as the odd light frost does little harm to plants that have been out all summer, but it is a timely reminder that winter is on its way…

Begonias – they hate frosts so lift tuberous begonias (the ones with enormous flowers) sooner rather than later. Keep in trays of moist compost somewhere cool and light and keep watered until the leaves turn yellow. Dry gradually by withdrawing watering, cover with a shallow layer of peat and store somewhere frost-free. Water occasionally over the winter to prevent the tubers shrivelling.

Dahlias – wait until a couple of good frosts have blackened them (hopefully not until next month) then cut stems back to approximately 10cm from the ground and label each plant as you lift it – it is amazingly easy to forget which is which! Be careful not to damage the tubers as you dig around them, remove all the soil and store for a couple of weeks in a dry, cool place upside down to allow any residual moisture in the stem to drain out. Once completely dry, bury them in peat free compost so the top of the tuber is above the compost level and keep them somewhere frost free over the winter. Meanwhile, keep deadheading and enjoy them!

Gladioli – if deeply planted in well-drained soil they should be alright in situ, but if you don’t want to risk losing them, lift the corms carefully with a fork sometime around the middle of the month, cut the stems down to 2cm, dry in a cool airy place and store somewhere frost-proof.

Tender container plants – oleanders and the like should be tidied up and moved inside to a greenhouse or conservatory. Keep watering to a minimum to keep them on the dry side for repotting next spring.

Others… lift cannas, geraniums and fuchsias before any proper frost. Trim back the soft growth on geraniums and fuchsias, pot into multi-purpose compost and keep them barely moist over the winter in a cool frost-free spot.

Perennials

Plant new ones – while the soil is still relatively moist and warm, plant hardy perennials so their roots have a chance to become established before winter and do ensure you choose plants that are appropriate for your soil type!

Divide large ones such as daylilies and peonies once they have finished flowering. Cut them back and divide large clumps by lifting carefully and separating down the centre with 2 forks back to back. Replant with plenty of organic matter and water generously. Remember some perennials, such as peonies, do not take kindly to being disturbed so tread carefully! Late flowering perennials such as asters are best left until spring for dividing.

Cut back those that have died down – do not cut back the less hardy perennials such as penstemoms and hardy fuchsias – leave until they begin to shoot from the base in spring.

Lift and bring tender perennials inside before frosts cause any damage.

Support tall flowers – autumn can be windy so make sure any tall flowers are supported.

Collect seed heads – collect seed heads from perennials, alpines, trees and shrubs. Growing plants from seeds you have collected is fantastically rewarding, but be vigilant; seed heads have a nasty habit of ripening and popping whilst your back is turned. Collect when nearly ripe – just as they are turning brown. Snip them off, put them in a paper bag, label and hang somewhere cool, dark and dry.

Protect alpines from the wet and clear leaves from around them – leaves left around alpines will encourage disease, so clear dead leaves regularly. Whilst alpines, not surprisingly, don’t mind the cold, they do object to excessive wetness, so you may need to put an open ended cloche or something similar over your plants if you have a particularly wet spell of weather

Gardening Advice

Birds

Our feathered friends will be starting to build their reserves for winter, so do please put out food and fresh water for them. We sell a range of top quality bird food and feeding stations as well as some really beautiful bird tables. They make great Christmas presents – for little ones the magic of watching birds coming to feed close by is a pleasure to behold!

Wildlife experts recommend that we feed the birds year round as they soon become reliant on the food we provide. Their greatest time of need is during winter and spring, when their natural food sources are greatly depleted. Putting out food helps them survive the chilly winter months and ensures they are in good condition for the breeding season. Choose good quality wild bird seed, bird peanuts (remember to take them out of nylon mesh bags which can trap beaks and legs), suet and fat balls (these are great high energy foods and ideal during cold weather) as well as kitchen scraps such as crushed breakfast cereals, pinhead oatmeal, uncooked porridge oats, hard fats such as mild cheese, fresh and dried fruit, cooked potatoes and cooked rice. Bread is only an ‘empty filler’ so not ideal and remember never to put out mouldy food. Also do make sure your ‘feeding station’ has good all round visibility and is well out of curious cat range!

A plentiful supply of clean water is essential for drinking and bathing; melt ice on frosty mornings with warm water, ensure the inside of your bird bath remains roughened and do remember to change the water regularly

September Gardening Tips

sun flowerSeptember is back-to-school time.  Just as you wouldn’t send your kids off to school unprepared, neither should you ignore the needs of your garden as it heads into fall.  Gardens need special care to help prepare them for winter and for the next growing season.

In the vegetable garden, harvest onions once tops have fallen over and the necks have started to dry down and shrink just above the bulb.  Pull up bygone plantings of beans, broccoli, and other crops that have been harvested. Removal of crop  residues is important to disease and insect prevention as it takes away the places where pests and diseases can overwinter.  Remove any weeds you missed earlier before they set seed and cause problems for the next growing season.

If frost threatens, cover tomatoes, peppers, and salad crops with a double layer of plastic. Don’t worry about your carrots,  turnips, and parsnips. They’ll actually taste sweeter after being exposed to temperatures between 28 and 34  degrees F. For harvest in early winter, cover these root crops with 18 inches of straw, hay, or dry leaves. This will keep the ground from freezing so deeply and make it easier to dig them up.

Cover crops are a great way to hold precious topsoil in place over the winter, and they add organic matter, too.  An  excellent fall cover crop for home gardens in northern New York is oats. This crop can be sown anytime in September.  It is inexpensive and will reliably winter-kill so next spring all that remains is the dead residue, which is much easier to incorporate into the soil than rye.

After removing residues, rough up the soil surface then lightly rake in at least four or five pounds of oats per 1,000 square  feet.   Higher rates will give an even thicker cover crop, which helps with weed suppression.  Use certified seed or  triple-cleaned feed oats to assure that the seed is free from weed contamination.

In flower gardens, clean up residue from plants infected with powdery mildew.  The disease will overwinter on stems and  foliage, creating a source of spores for new infections next year.  Rake dead leaves from under rose bushes.  Decaying  leaves may provide a conducive breeding ground for fungus and insects that will prey on next year’s roses.

For an instant garden and a blast of color as summer turns into fall, fill your flowerbeds and empty spaces in your  landscape with chrysanthemums.  They come in a wide range of autumn colors from white, yellow, and gold to bronze and maroon.  Lighter colors tend to bloom earlier than the darker reds and purples, so select different colors for a longer display of color.

What’s nice about mums, in addition to the long bloom time, is that they can be transplanted while in full bloom.  Just be  sure to water thoroughly until they become established.

Mums also work well as container plants to decorate patios, porches, and decks.  Go easy on the water, however, to  prevent root rot.  Potted mums probably will not do well inside as lower light levels often result in yellowing leaves and  droopy flowers.

Flowering kale and cabbage also make nice fall plants to replace annual flowers.  Both will turn a beautiful color with the cold and will last until covered with snow.  Or try fall asters,   They provide good color, and many are hardy as well.

This is a good time to evaluate your autumn landscape to see where new plants can be added next spring and summer to  provide fall color.  Asters, perennial salvias, and some of the sedums (including the popular ‘Autumn Joy’ with its attractive  pink flowers) are good choices for long-lasting color at this time of the year.  .

This is a great time to plant shrubs and trees since their roots will continue to grow into November, giving them plenty of  time to get well-established before winter. You might find some good clearance sales this time of year, but don’t let price dictate what you buy!!!! Leftovers at the end of the season can often be just that.  Poor quality means they might require more  help to survive. At the Nursery we usually do not have fall sales because we upsize and grow our trees and shrubs on for the following year. If at the end of the season we find we have an overabundance of certain plants, then we will put them on sale. We do have a clearance area in the back all year which you  are always welcome to browse through if you are looking for a deal.

With the cooler days of early fall, grass growth speeds up (and slows down later in fall with colder temperatures), so keep  mowing as long as it is growing.  Set the blades to cut grass at least two inches high.

It’s okay to fertilize grass in the early fall.  By the same token, late season fertilizer applications will help herbaceous  perennials overwinter better.

Start a new compost pile, adding grass clippings, spent annuals, and leaves that you’ve raked.  Leaves are a very good  source of carbon, and they help to soak up excess water, so you may want to shred some with the lawnmower and stockpile in a garbage can for composting food wastes over the winter.

Shredding leaves will help them break down more quickly and make them more absorbent. Weeds from the garden also  may be added to the pile, provided they are not full of seed heads. Even though composting can kill off weed seeds, most home compost piles do not get hot enough to assure this.

Once you are done with all this its time to take a break!!!! attend a fall festival (The beer and Chili fest is coming up here at the nursery)or late season agricultural fair , go apple picking.or start looking for that perfect pumpkin!!!!!

 

 

Repairing Drought Stricken Lawns

bad lawn

Many homeowners with drought-damaged lawns have some decisions to make about how to repair them now that it’s the season, and it mostly comes down to answering this question: Do I reseed, or will fertilizing be enough to recover my lawn?

First, the problem:

Most grass species in upstate New York are cool-season grasses,  They like cooler weather with adequate water.

That’s not what lawns got this summer, when rain was scarce and temperatures were often in the 90s. Many lawns sustained damage or died from the heat and dry conditions.

Here is some advice on how to handle that drought damaged lawn:

* Seed or fertilize? It depends on the size of the damaged area. If an area between clumps of surviving grass is larger than your hand print, then it probably needs to be reseeded.

Damaged areas that are smaller could be treated with fertilizer to encourage growth and recovery. When buying fertilizer, look on the label for a high percentage of nitrogen content. That’s the nutrient that helps plants grow the most.

*Seeding: Types of seed to buy will depend on whether the area is sunny, shady or a mix of both.

Fine fescues, such as creeping fescue, are good for shady areas. Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue are ideal for lawns with full sun. Tall fescue has gained popularity over the last few years in that it keeps its green color longer during drought  A mix of tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass works well in areas of high traffic..

Avoid  buying products stating that the seed establishes itself quickly. Such seeds typically have a lot of annual ryegrass, which is not cold-hardy or tolerant of heat and drought.It is not a long-term species for your lawn, Just be real careful when you’re buying seed to make sure you get the right turf species.

Here at the Nursery we carry a line of grass seed which is manufactured by Prefered Seed in Buffalo NY. It contains NO annual grass seed.  We have Summer Green, which is for drought and wear areas, Ie: over septics and high traffic areas. We also have a Trio Supreme mix for sunny areas and a Shady Supreme for your shadier areas.

* Site preparation for seeding: Remove debris and patches of dead grass with a garden rake to ensure that the new seed contacts the soil. If you can get the seed down to that area, it will have a much better chance of getting established.

In addition, aeration is a good way to prepare lawns for seeding, and you also get the added benefits of reducing soil compaction and improving rooting and water infiltration.

* Starter fertilizers: Such fertilizers are high in phosphorus – good for new lawns established from seed. It helps a newly seeded lawn to develop its root system and grow strong.

If we haven’t answered all your questions and you need a little more help, feel free to give us a call or stop in and we will be happy to help you get that lawn back in shape !!!

 

Beer and Chili Fest 2016!!!!!!!

beer and chili 4Yes We are doing it again!! October 2nd from 1:00 PM To 4:00 PM. The Chili Competition is on!!!!! Bring in your best chili and if you win you could go home with a $100.00 gift certificate. Don’t feel like making a Chili then come on over, Watch the Bills vs Patriots game, taste some beers and help judge! Everyone is welcome and there is no charge but if you would like to leave a donation for the food shelf while you are here it would be greatly appreciated. Just a nice afternoon with friends. Any questions give us a call at 585 637 4497