A GROWING CONCERN: Assess your attitude at midpoint of autumn

WEDNESDAY IS THE first day of November and, as a Scorpio, a favorite month of mine.

In just two weeks, we’ll be at the midpoint of autumn, with winter just as close as summer is in our rearview mirror.

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

This age-old question of 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 a 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 ample 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.

Then the person can go out and get these fill-in plants, seeds or fertilizer for 20 percent to 50 percent off all red-tagged items. Everyone can go out now and find your yard and garden half-full.

As a season slips later, so should the gardener look to the next season. Numerous tasks mount up now for a variety of reasons.

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 soils is so loved by your plants. Right now, it will kill those weeds that have recently germinated, plus 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 fertilize 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 like in so-and-so’s yard that look so great in January? (Hint: Think camellias, heather, holly and yucca.)

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

Get after those roses

OK, but what about right now? Keep watch on these baskets and containers.

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

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

Have you applied you 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 foliage plants and wash the dust from all the leaves. This time of year, they need to be clean, for the sun is low.

Happy November!


Andrew May is an 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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