It is fall and it is time to plant, plus more.

23 10 2009

Fall is the time to plant, especially woody plants. They will grow even in the winter and this time of the year is less stressful than say… July and August. I enjoy planting and gardening. Let’s make a plan and get in the gardens.

About a month ago I moved 2 shrubs I had planted last November. I originally planted 3 in one part of this garden and 1 didn’t make it. As I was moving the 2 I noticed the root system was very dry. I asked about the watering schedule and was told that the water was currently turned off in that part of the garden. I asked about the watering schedule immediately after I planted them originally. They were not watered much then either. These particular shrubs are leafy evergreens and need more water than a deciduous shrub that goes mostly dormant in the winter. I checked again this week on the 2 I had moved and they seem to be holding on. I hope they make it. They have been through dry times since I moved them and the leaves still look normal. If you plant something now be sure to water it regularly if you want it to live and thrive.

I was listening to Mike McGrath a couple of weeks ago on “You Bet Your Garden” on Public Radio East and heard some new, at least to me, information. It is probably not a good idea to use wood chips as mulch in the garden. The wood chips decompose and, if I understood correctly, during the process they out-gas a substance harmful to tender plants. This out-gassing  encourages molds and mildew.  That is enough reason for me to change my practice and use another mulch in my own gardens. The alternative suggestion is to use composted leaf mold — the same material people (1)rake to the curb in the fall, (2)let the municipality collect it,  and then (3)buy back, either completely broken down or partially broken down, in the spring. The composted leaves  add nutrients to your gardens, hold moisture during dry times, amend the soil over time, and are not quite so attractive to pests that like to nest in the wood chips. I am going to research this further and will get back to you.

Since it is fall and the very leaves I just mentioned have begun to fall, you need to keep your gutters and downspouts clean. If you don’t, when it rains water will spill over the front and back of the gutters and will eventually rot the fascia board. It is much less expensive to clean the gutters — or have someone do it for you — than to have someone remove the gutters, replace the fascia, paint the fascia, and then rehang the gutters. If you have pine trees in your yard, have the gutters cleaned at least 4 times a year. If you have only hardwoods, you can usually get by with two cleanings annually. If you need help with the cleaning of the gutters and downspouts just give me call.

I recently pruned some plants that were searching for light. They had gotten very tall and skinny in the process of trying to reach the light. I advised the owner they might not recover from the severe pruning at this time of the year. Pruning, especially hard pruning, should really be done in the late winter or very early spring. I’m interested to see if or how many of the stumps survive. More on that next spring.

I recently worked in a historic building trying to remedy a sound migration problem. I insulated the walls and other areas where sound might infiltrate into otherwise quiet spaces. The space I worked in was very tight. If you’re are claustrophobic, you might not want to read the rest of this paragraph! It was so tight I made sure my cell phone worked as I was nearing the tightest area, just in case I  needed help getting back out. It was TIGHT. When the job was done it was rewarding to know I was able to fit into that opening, get back out,  and do the job I went there to do. Did I mention it was tight? The shop over the insulated area is not open to the public yet, so when it opens I’ll be better able to determine how successful I was.

It seems that when I do a particular type of job,  I get several calls within the next couple of weeks to do the same type of project again. Several weeks ago I replaced about 10 pieces of siding on a client’s home with Hardiplank. About 2 weeks later I was called to replace siding for another client. And then another call to do the same for a 3rd client. That was the end of the siding run. The same situation happened again a week later with a call to hang drapes. I was called twice more within 2 weeks to hang more curtains and drapes. I enjoy just riding the wave and waiting for the next big one. Life is good!

One last thought. The Interfaith Food Shuttle gave us a tally of how many pounds of vegetables we gave them from the “guerrilla garden” at our church — St. Giles Presbyterian. We grew and donated 451 pounds this summer and early fall! We now have a fall/winter garden. I will report more as the season progresses.

Thanksgiving , Christmas, and Chanukah are right around the corner. If you need help preparing your yard and home for those wonderful and festive occasions, let me know.



3 responses

2 11 2009

Great article, Doug!

I definitely need to take some of that advice and do some planting in our yard this fall. We planted and moved a few shrubs in the spring and didn’t commit to watering them, so they were lost. It’s frustrating to see that happen.

Do you think it’s too late to plant some Azaleas and others right now?

2 11 2009

Andy, it is not too late to plant. Just be sure you prepare the hole
properly, add some soil amendment, cut the root ball to encourage new root
growth, and add some fertilizer that helps the root system get started.
Another thing to consider for azaleas is the location. They do not like to
be in the direct sun. Like dogwoods they like to peep out from under the
canopy of more dense trees. You might also think about encore azaleas they
bloom most of the summer. DB

4 11 2009

Thanks for the tips, Doug! This is turning out to be a great place for advice.

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