Is your green thumb still twitchin’ to get into soil even though summer has waned? Not to worry, there is still more you can do. Autumn is the best time to plant bulbs, wildflowers, and shrubs. It is also a great time to fertilize your garden in an environmentally responsible way. Take care of your garden now, and it will reward you greatly in the spring!
When planning out your garden, make sure to take note of the layout. This will help you in the spring when your perennials are making their comeback. Companion planting is also a great way to help your plants grow efficiently in the Fall, LawnStarter refers to this as the “buddy system” in gardening.
Bulbs rely on the winter freeze to get started. Depending on where you live you might not be able to plant bulbs until later on. It’s best to plant them when the temperature is around 45-55 degrees, but certainly before the ground is completely frozen.
If you want the flowers in a formal design, plan out the arrangement and colors. Dig the holes accordingly, making sure to leave enough space in between. Holes will be three to four times deeper than the bulb is tall. If you want a more natural look, toss the bulbs around and plant them where they land. Make note of your
Some less commonly seen and gorgeous bulb plants include checkered lily, queen of the night tulip, and snowdrop. You’ll see the snowdrop when the ground is barely thawed in late winter/early spring. It’s a lovely sight – the nodding white flowers resemble a flock of tiny white doves.
If Mother Nature plants wildflower seeds in the autumn, why wouldn’t we? The seeds of dried wildflowers fall to the ground naturally in autumn and come up in the spring. Mix wildflower seeds with sand (1 part seed to 10 parts sand) and sow them in a bare patch of dirt. The sand allows you to see where you might need more seeds. Lightly rake the seeds or simply walk over the area to tap them gently into the soil. Seeds must be within the top quarter-inch inch of soil to germinate. Planting them in the autumn will allow you to have flowers a few weeks earlier than if planting them in the spring.
If you can’t decide on what kind of wildflowers to plant, step outside and take a look around. The wildflowers native to your region are already acclimated to the soil and climate in your region, making them easier for you manage.
Popular wildflowers include bluebonnets, maroon bluebonnets, purple bluebonnets, lupine, red Drummond’s phlox, scarlet Indian paintbrush, and yellow Indian paintbrush.
Shrubs and Saplings
Shrubs and trees planted in autumn have the best chance of establishing their roots before the sometimes debilitating effects of the summer sun get to them. Make sure to plant them a few weeks before the first frost. If you live in an area where winter is more extreme, prepare the shrubs and trees for winter by wrapping the branches and leaves in burlap.
Environmentally Safe Fertilizer
Autumn is the time of the year when you have free fertilizer right at your disposal. Use the fallen leaves to return nutrients to your soil. Not only will you save money, but you’ll help save the environment from the far-reaching damage done by chemical fertilizers. The leaves improve the overall condition of the soil by using organic material to promote microbial life; add nutrients, including phosphorous and potassium; and assist in the retention of moisture.
It’s best to use shredded leaves, although whole and chopped work also. If you don’t have a shredder, a safe and simple solution is to use a blender. This may take a little longer considering the container size, but will do the same thing! Put the shredded leaves directly onto your garden soil and turn it with a shovel.
Take advantage of having to prepare your garden for winter and complete it by being eco-conscious about your practice. The extra work now will pay off in the springtime when your gorgeous garden is full and rich with colors!
Lois Crouse came to appreciate nature’s beauty through her plein air painting and finds passion in designing gardens and outdoor living spaces. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing Tai Chi on a nearby beach and taking meditative walks through forests.