A GROWING CONCERN: Dos and don’ts for autumn gardening

THE BULBS ARE arriving, soon planting will begin (November).

Fall is in full swing and how I love the autumn’s paintbrush upon our landscape.

Next Sunday, we’ll be already past mid-October.

Halloween arrives in just a few weeks and the Peninsula is dotted with a variety of very cool seasonal decorations.

Along with the beginning of mid-fall, a host of disconnected things need to be done … but not a “Lucky 13” list.

Instead, to try something new, I offer you some do’s and don’ts for the season.

DO continue to find and buy bulbs.

DON’T be fooled by gardening books or experts who warn it is too late to plant. They don’t live here.

DO plant these new bulbs now, and plant them as you find them in November.

DON’T ever forget that our weather is so perfect that bulbs need to be planted later in the season so they won’t emerge too early in the spring and be damaged by frost.

DON’T forget to bone meal (before December) these bulbs and every other perennial, tuber, rhizome, corm or more fleshy-rooted plant in your garden. I don’t call it the miracle drug for nothing.

DO take a ride around the peninsula this week and admire all the spectacular color that are now at their Peak.

DO take a few leaves, and press or wax coat them with your kids.

Do drive around your neighborhood and see how many ornamental plants are burning bright and showing off their unique autumn displays.

Do realize there is no better time than right now to plant trees, and bushes, which happen to be on sale now. Check out the nurseries.

DO stop into one of the pumpkin sale areas and buy pumpkins.

Also realize that you DO need to mow the lawn, but with the fall weather, moisture and heavy dews, you need to understand the dangers to your lawn.

DO cut that lawn low — really low — as low as possible, but don’t scalp (cut into the dirt) it. DO change the setting if certain spots take a slightly higher cut.

DO fertilize your lawn using a fall or winter blend, but DON’T use a nitrogen count higher than 20 (the first number on the bag).

DON’T spread high nitrogen fertilizers (first number above 8) on any blooming perennial, shrub or bush.

DO come to realize the important link perennials have with dormancy and how they need frost to set that dormancy.

DON’T be fooled by the calendar, or the thermometer, for thinking it is the time to “clean up the yard.”

Most of your perennial plants DO need a certain amount of old (last summer’s) plant growth to protect them against winters ravages.

DON’T pull or cut away any old growth except those leaves and old flowers. DO this every few days.

DON’T harvest roses for cut flowers anymore, but DO allow rose hips to form.

DO start to seek out all those bare spots appearing throughout your yard. As you plant bulbs in these areas, cap the spots off with seasonal colored plants like kale, holly, pansies, heather’s, cabbages or ornamental grasses.

DO begin to plan your seasonal holiday gardens and begin to secure Christmas lights. Let’s make them extra special this year!

DON’T be caught off guard when supplies are bought out, DON’T turn lights on until after Thanksgiving.

DON’T rake up your leaves yet. Let all the deciduous trees in a 100-yard area shed their leaves.

DO sweep the walkways and driveways for safety sake a couple of times a week.

DO buy lots of candy — big bags of top-grade goodies.

DO be responsible to those around you as the situation now runs into the end of the year.

DON’T forget we live in Camelot, the Olympic Peninsula.

DO 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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