A GROWING CONCERN: Don’t let autumn catch you slacking

WELL, CAN YOU imagine that? We are well into both autumn and October.

The harvest moon is already waning.

Dew is wet and heavy. Dampness fills the morning air.

The rain, heavy of late, re-hydrates our arid dry soils.

This moisture also occurred at the most opportune moment, early enough to help re-hydrate plants and soil before they were to go dormant and severely dry.

I was thinking of this while driving back from Lake Crescent early on a marvelous Indian summer day.

The strata of fog created by the early sun as it shined through the branches along scenic state Highway 101 and the surrounding hues of the big maples contrast to this idyllic scene.

The autumn trees are so beautiful, they got me to thinking how poor of a job I may have done the last several weeks in conveying just how ideal this time of year is for many a garden chore.

Planting time

Let me make it abundantly clear — plant, plant, plant, buy, plant, transplant, divide, transplant some more, go to the store, plant again and germinate seeds… Repeat. Got it?

Plant away like little automated excavators, because of all the places in the country to be, this is the most perfect, mild, forgiving, nourishing and automatic irrigation area to be in.

Right now, the natural cycle of bi-annuals (plants that live 2 years) and perennials (plants that live 3 years or more) are to root in.

Soil temperatures on the North Olympic Peninsula are such that these plants will grow new roots very well for the next several months.

Also, the hundreds of successive rainfalls we will have from now until next summer will gently and firmly close in around the freshly-planted items.

If this wasn’t enough, our springs come slow and regular, showing no outrageous temperature spikes.

This means your new or moved plants will start spring with an already developed root system absent of shock.

These will break out next spring as though they have been there for years. Pretty cool, huh?

Speaking of cool, that is precisely why you seed new lawns, or over-seed existing turf, this month.

Many of the weed seeds fail to germinate in our falling temperatures — but grass germinates all year.

At the end of this month work up your bare spots, bad areas or newly leveled front yard and sow away.

Up comes the grass seeds, gone are the weeds and Mother Nature will pick up the watering bill for you.

This trick also works for most wildflower and perennial seeds, but please be careful not to get mixes with noxious weed seed — most do.

With all that said, here is your list of things that should be planted now:

1. Absolutely a fall foliage tree, bush or shrub. They are gorgeously displaying themselves for you now.

2. Grass seed, sod and wildflower seed.

3. All trees, bushes and shrubs.

4. Perennials, ground covers, roses, woody ornamentals, ivies, peonies and such.

5. Grapes, berries, strawberries and edible fruits or nuts.

6. Cover crops, pasture mixes, clover and rye, etc.

7. Vines, grasses, clematis, kale, cabbage, pansies and violas.

Ideal climatic conditions are here on the Olympic Peninsula.

On a final note, as you walk around your yard looking for ideal spots that could be planted anew, be on the lookout for drying flowers.

The dew and moisture, coupled with shorter grey days means the falling petals will rot away the foliage. Remove old flowers ASAP.

However you move around … stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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