Tonawanda News — Fall is also a good time to plant perennials, trees and shrubs. The soil is warm and the air cooler, so the plants are less stressed and establish more quickly. Select plants suited to the growing conditions and be sure to give them plenty of room to reach their mature size.
Plant daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs in fall for extra color next spring. Set the bulbs at a depth of two to three times their height. Then cover them with soil and sprinkle on a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer. This type of fertilizer promotes rooting without stimulating fall growth subject to winter kill.
Base your bulb planting time on the weather not the calendar. Start planting after the night-time temperatures hover between 40 and 50 degrees. Be patient. Waiting until the soil cools reduces the risk of early sprouting that often occurs during a warm fall.
Those gardening in the far south and along the gulf coast can purchase pre-cooled bulbs to compensate for the warm winters. Or the chilling can be done at home by storing the bulbs in a 35 to 45 degree location for at least 14 weeks before planting.
Leave healthy perennials stand for winter. This increases hardiness and adds beauty to the winter landscape with their seed heads, dried foliage and the birds they attract. Plus, it will delay cleanup until spring when gardeners are anxious to get outdoors and start gardening.
However, be sure to remove any diseased or insect-infested plants to reduce the source of pest problems in next year’s garden.
Start composting or add shredded leaves and other plant debris to an existing compost pile. Combine fall leaves with other plant waste, a bit of soil or compost, and sprinkle with fertilizer to create compost. Recycling yard waste saves time bagging, hauling and disposing of green debris. You also reduce or eliminate the need to buy soil amendments to improve your existing garden soil.
Incorporate one or all six of these practices to increase the health and beauty of your landscape now and for years to come.
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written more than 20 gardening books, including “Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening.” Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.