GARDENING: Here comes fall
The weather is still warm but the days grow shorter for our gardens. Sunny days bring a hope that there is still time to absorb the outdoors. With the garden losing its color, it is time to brighten up the immediate eye sores.
Care for your greens
The hottest month of the year for the Pacific Northwest has passed by and your lawn and water bill are a witness to it (chuckle). Look outside your window to see if it has a verdant glow or an arid outlook, or has just simply turned into brown speckled grass. If it is lush, congratulate yourself on your Herculean task of maintaining the greenery in peak summer.
Summer or winter dormancy, as characterized by mousy-hued blades of grass, can be due to many reasons including intense heat, drought or the grass’s natural instinct to conserve water and nutrients. It can always be brought back to its reigning glory with in-time care. As the time for apple picking nears, you know that the silvery showers would soon be here, which would be a perfect time to plan for lawn rejuvenation.
Doctoring your lawn would depend on the investigation of symptoms and applying cures accordingly. Some of the problems include sparse lawns, bare spots, weeds, and too much or too little water. Sometimes as lawns mature, they appear scraggly and will consequently lead to a field of opportunistic weeds that are looking to send their roots down just about anywhere.
Overseeding provides a thicker turf that obstructs weed survival as well as steeping your lawn in youth and vigor. In actuality, every weed on the lawn can tell the tale how it received its invitation. Crabgrass and dandelions indicate compacted lawn soils which need to be aerated so can water reach the roots. Creeping speedwell is proof of drought or shade conditions, which can be avoided by re-seeding with the right type of grass seed such as tall fescue or ryegrass.
Weather plays an enormous role with our outdoor gardens, which we can mold to our needs. It is best to avoid downpours before re-seeding. Heavy rain leads to seed run-off. Instead, aim to seed before light showers. If you see frogs in your garden, that means you have a stable and healthy environment void of chemicals for them to thrive.
Create new life
Wayward branches hitting your face as you take a stroll in the garden might be annoying, but they indicate a healthy growing season for the shrubs and trees around you. As tempting as it is to completely cut down the overgrowth, it is best to wait until late winter or spring to prune hard for the simple reason that the trees are trying to hunker down rather than grow in fall.
Nevertheless, you can gently trim the defiant branches with an additional purpose in mind: duplicating. Autumn is the optimal time for the propagation of clippings to clone for new growth. Care should be taken so the stem does not attract fungal disease or rot before it establishes roots. For that reason, we have rooting hormone, honey and cinnamon, or vinegar to help protect the stem from harm.
Roses are very popular for their clippings with a high rate of success. To duplicate, lift the undersides of bushes. The branches might have already rooted where they are entrenched in soil. Now would be a good time to wean them away from the mother plant with clean shears and plant in separate pots for a growth explosion in the spring.
Apart from perennials, brilliant colored annuals will also be on the last leg of their journey. If you want to preserve them for next year, what better time than now to take a cutting for indoor cultivation. Favorites such are fuchsia and pelargoniums are prime examples for this. Humidity is the key factor for duplicating plants and if you can achieve that, then be prepared for a blast of color when spring comes again.
Whether you are starting, propagating or adding more mature plants, this rainy mild weather makes it so much easier for the perennials to survive and establish a strong root system before the colder days ahead. So go ahead and add some mums and asters to brighten up the otherwise dull skies and landscape, as well as your mood.