A GROWING CONCERN: Dos and Don’ts to fill fall days

I LIKE TELLING other gardeners what to do so I don’t have to perform so many tasks!

With that said, it’s been a great week — 9,250 spring-flowering bulbs have arrived for Colette’s bed and breakfast to plant. You have to love anyone who orders his bulbs by the pallet.

Halloween arrives today and the Peninsula is dotted with an interesting variety of very cool seasonal decorations.

Along with the end of October and the beginning of mid-fall, a host of disconnected things need to be done — but not a “lucky 13” list.

Instead, trying again something new, I offer you some dos and don’ts for this 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 bulbs now, and plant them as you find them from now until December.

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 fleshy rooted plant in your garden. I don’t call it the miracle drug of fall for nothing.

DO absolutely take a ride around the Peninsula this week and admire all the spectacular colored leaves that are now at their peak.

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

DO drive around neighborhoods and see how many ornamental plants are burning bright and showing off their unique autumn displays.

DO realize there is no better time then right now to plant trees, shrubs and bushes, which happens to be on sale now. Check out the nurseries.

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

DO cut that long low, really low, as low as possible, but don’t scalp it (cut into the dirt). Take your time and change the setting if certain spots dictate 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 eight) 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, thinking it is 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 the winter’s ravages.

DON’T pull or cut away any old growth except those dead 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 that appear throughout your yard. As you plant bulbs in these areas, cap the spots off with seasonal colored plants like kale, holly, pansies, heathers, cabbages or ornamental grasses.

DO begin to plant your seasonal holiday gardens and begin to secure Christmas lights.

DON’T be caught off guard with supplies bought out, but don’t turn lights on until after Thanksgiving.

DON’T rake up your leaves yet. Wait until all the deciduous trees in a 100-yard radius have shed their leaves.

DO sweep the walkways and driveways for safety’s sake.

DON’T forget to clean out your gutters as they fill with leaves.

But above all, DO stay well all!

Happy Halloween!


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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