The Imperfect Gardener #8

Now that the days and nights are getting cooler, it’s time to start closing up the garden. But, since we are blessed to be gardening in Cincinnati, there is a good chance we could see temperatures reach 80 a few more days. A smooth, seamless transition into fall we are not apt to experience. So the question becomes, when do you start cleaning up the garden and to what extent?
watering-the-gardenExcellent question! It’s a real trick, walking that fine line between getting things done too soon and having a closed garden to enjoy when days are warm and being caught pulling hoses and mulching leaves with a dusting of snow or ice on the ground.
Watering: Plan on more watering yet this season. If you have newly planted perennials, trees and shrubs, keep watering until the ground is frozen. Winds will deplete plants of moisture and if their roots are surround my dry soil, they will not be able to replenish lost moisture.
Mulch leaves as they fall. If only the trees would shimmy and shake to release all their leaves at once… if only. Fallen leaves come in waves so plan on mulching a little bit at at a time.  Actually I rather prefer this. I would hate to have to mulch leaves for days straight, all day long. I like sprinkling this chore throughout the fall months.
Clean: Remove fallen twigs, branches and non-diseased foliage and transfer to the compost pile. You will want to turn it and keep it moist as long as our days are warm.
Diseased material should be disposed of now. No reason to let infected plant material settle into the garden to be forgotten about until next year.
Plant those bulbs! We don’t have to wait for temperatures to nip our fingers to plant spring flowering bulbs. Do it now when the weather is nice and you have the motivation to plant them thoughtfully while marking their location in the garden with plant tags or on a very detailed map of the gardens. There’s nothing worse than digging in the early spring and experiencing the feel of your shovel blade slicing through a bulb.  Yikes!
Enjoy… For a while it was too stink-in hot to lounge in the garden. Enjoy these cooler days in the garden surrounded by fall flowering plants, feeding bird and migrating butterflies. Soon it will be quite cold and we will be dreaming of days like these.

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