A GROWING CONCERN: Top off your glass and your garden

HERE WE ARE, at the midpoint of another season!

As we move through autumn, I, and numerous other people on the Peninsula, got to wake up to snow this week. We can all see the weather has indeed changed.

Last Tuesday was the first day of November and, as a Scorpio, it is a favorite month of mine.

In just two weeks, we will be at the midpoint of autumn, with winter just as close as summer is in our rear-view mirror.

The exact middle of any season is important to any gardener. It allows us to apply the philosophy of “the glass is now half-full or half-empty.”

This age-old attitude is what the middle of any season should pose to the gardener. In your yard, both answers should be correct depending on what we are looking at and what we are trying to accomplish.

This is all geared to the reality of year-round gardening. Remember, it is all about what we have and where we are going.

In the past, I have discussed the quintessential characteristics of the early trimester of any season. This is in play now, for it is the axiom “the right plant at the right time for the right space” we are always trying to uphold.

Too many times, an individual goes gung-ho for week or two. They plant and till, prune and cut back, but it tends to be clumped into a few weeks (May, September, holiday decorations.)

This generally translates to a few ornamental plants during many other weeks of the season.

Figure out empty spots. The midpoint of a season is a time to access the garden and figure out these empty spots.

See the yard as half-full, awaiting material that will bloom and respond now, and through next season.

The middle of a season gives one time to enjoy the conditions of the season, and thus, there is ample time to plant.

Another bonus is the plant material itself. Especially in our commercialized society, businesses are always pushing things early in front of someone else. Just look at the stores today. Is Christmas or Thanksgiving the next holiday?

What this means to the gardening consumer is material that’s reduced, on sale or my favorite, “everything must go!”

As we move into the mid-trimester, plant prices generally drop, so seek out the best deals now.

Not only can you see what the garden needs currently, but you can also see how the plants in the yard will perform for the remainder of the season.

Get in the habit of specifically going around the yard during the mid-period. Find these plants that are now half-empty.

Clip them, snip them, deadhead, do to the plant what it needs for an even more spectacular next year.

Cultivate, because aeration is so crucial to your soil. A midseason, overall, light-cultivation of your soil is so loved by your plants.

Right now, it will kill those weeds that have recently germinated.

Check the moss growing on your roof and apply a treatment.

The mid-trimester is also a great time for many nutrient programs.

The plants have been growing now for weeks and weeks, and their fertilizer glass is definitely half-empty (or less).

I especially like organic compost and mulches, for the mid-period and specifically targeted foliar feeds give a luster to plants as we move into winter.

Add bone meal now to all perennials and bulbs.

On another tack, the mid-period also signals a time to start in earnest for the upcoming season.

For many plants or seeds, it takes time to order them and receive them for the season.

That means now is the time one should begin a list: What are the holes that will appear in my garden? Where are the spots I need to add response? What are these plants I always liked in so and so’s yard that look so great in January? (Hint: Think camellias, heathers, holly and yucca.)

Now is a great time to prepare for the next season — not only will you have the plants you want, but also time to do the jobs.

In a few weeks, edge, cultivate and fertilize.

Begin pulling away the grass for the new perennial bed.

Cut away a few branches and tighten up the ladders so your winter pruning of the fruit trees is nothing but smooth sailing.

In essence, get ready to go to the faucet and fill your glass to the top again.

Okay, but what about right now?

Keep watch on those baskets and containers.

I had an interesting conversation last week with several clients concerning fuchsia baskets and geraniums. Both are cool tolerant, and by moving them indoors over cold nights, they will perform until December.

Attack your roses now, clean up all the old leaves from around the ground and plant.

Have you applied your fall winter fertilizer to the lawn? Rake up leaves and mix with light prunings, grass and sticks — it will be your best organic compost.

Finally, cultivate the soil on your indoor foliage plants and wash the dust from all the leaves. This time of year they need to be clean because the sun is low.

Happy November! Stay warm and stay well!


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 news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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