BULBS: A quick primer, if you’ve had your tulips stolen or nipped (literally, in the bud) by squirrels then switch to daffodils (there are loads of varieties) and plant deeply, tamp any loose soil down, helping to hide the irresistible scent of fresh soil from critters looking for an easy snack. Don’t skip over the tiny, magical bulbs such as Crocus and Muscari/ Grape Hyacinth which are easily planted amongst the roots of any annuals you had growing (just cut the tops off the annuals or allow to rot in place) even amongst the roots of your existing perennials. Planting deeply and or amongst roots, even amongst dense foliage that you know won’t be up in early spring (Hostas, Peonies, etc) will help keep the critters from stealing them.
SEEDS: No one wants to accidentally spread destructive, invasive species through sharing soil and cuttings – species like the ‘jumping worm’ – impossible to detect eggs means growing from seed is more important than ever. Fortunately, fall is ideal for gathering seeds. Whether you’re gently harvesting native Asters, Milkweed and Goldenrods, seeds from your own annuals like Nasturtiums, Cosmos or as part of garden club ‘seed exchange’ or ‘Seed library’ –perhaps start one in your neighbourhood, learn to make wee envelopes from scrap paper and write the date as well as the plant name to contribute your own. REMINDER: If you’re growing native plants from seed then you’ll want to gather all your potting supplies & have the seeds ready for winter sowing. Also known as cold stratification, it’s the process most native plants must go through to trigger germination. (unlike annuals and veggies which we sow in spring) To learn about winter sowing visit the Halton Master Gardeners Website
LABEL: Label any plants you might not remember come spring – lately I’ve taken to using the Lee Valley copper tags; about $0.50 each and ‘classy’ – nearly invisible amongst the foliage (unlike white plastic tags which always bother me as looking like windblown garbage) This is especially great amongst native plants which may flower later in the season or look like similar to an invasive species when first emerging. Using a garden diary, it’s a great time to draw up a little map (only you need to understand it) or a complete inventory plant list. (The number of species may surprise you!) And finally – don’t forget to label the Dahlias, the Crocosmia and the Canna lily – come spring those wrinkly little nuggets can be hard to differentiate.
LEAVES: Don’t bag yer leaves! Well…er…maybe, or… some of them, uh… depends on the type… If you’re concerned about saving the moths and other insects in the leaves, don’t shred – if you’re concerned about the leaves breaking down too slowly, do shred (Norway maples and some other leaves may take longer to break down) If you’re not sure then at least give it a try it by lightly scattering some leaves into your perennial beds – you can add more each year as you get comfy with the concept. BONUS: Any leftover organic, non-soluble fertilizer or manure can be added in amongst your leaves to improve soil & percolate down via rain/snow/frost/thaw.
HARVEST: We always think of the veggies and pumpkins in October but don’t forget herbs can be used up before the hard frost to make pesto, fragrant vinegars and oils, even immersed in honey. Dry herbs – mint, marigolds or sage for tea and herbs like chives, thyme, oregano can be used as blends for everything from pizza to popcorn. Fall is such a bountiful time! Give away as lovely holiday presents or share with your neighbours when they offer you apples, and discuss, again, relieving them of their leaf bags 😊