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Fall Gardening

SEPTEMBER:

  1. Fertilize salvia and chrysanthemums with liquid plant food. They will reward you with lots of blooms later this fall.
  2. Examine your flower beds for tired out perennials like Shasta daisy, black-eyed Susan and purple coneflower. You can cut off dead flowers and brown foliage to neaten the plants for fall.
  3. Preserve excess basil leaves by pureeing in a blender with a little water. Freeze the slush in an ice tray and use the cubes in your wintertime spaghetti sauce.
  4. Lightly trim back the tropical hibiscus you kept outdoors for the summer. Make plans for where you'll place it indoors in bright light.
  5. Divide daylily, iris and monkey grass while you still have several weeks of warm weather to encourage root growth.
  6. Spot spray the broadleaf weeds in your lawn with a herbicide labeled for their control.
  7. It's a great time to plant peony roots. A good, old-time favorite is 'Festiva Maxima'. For real excitement, plant a tree peony and get huge blooms next May.
  8. Before planting fescue seed, wipe out weeds with a fast-acting but short-lived weed killer. Use Next Day, Finale or RoundUp now; you can seed in seven days.
  9. Spring-flowering bulbs are on sale now. You can buy them - but don't put them in the ground until soil temperatures are in the 60's or cooler in early October.
  10. Time to plant cool season vegetable seedlings. Broccoli, collards and cabbage plants should be available at garden centers.
  11. Time for the first application of fertilizer on fescue grass. This cool season turf needs fertilizer in September, November, February and April.  Planting a new fescue lawn? Use 6 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet.
  12. Cooler weather means it's time to plant shrubs and trees. Make sure to dig a hole three times as wide as the root ball.
  13. Propagate limber-limbed hydrangea, grape and forsythia plants by placing a thin branch on the ground and partially covering it with soil and a brick.
  14. Did chickweed and annual bluegrass run rampant in your lawn last spring? Now's the time to put out a pre-emergent weed preventer on lawns you'll not overseed this fall.
  15. Replace all of the mulch under roses, red tip photinia and crabapples. You'll prevent diseases on next year's leaves.

OCTOBER:

  1. Fall fescue planting season officially begins! Watering restrictions are still in force in many places so make SURE you have good soil-seed contact. Aerate before seeding, roll afterwards, water when you can.
  2. Apply a weed preventer to bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and centipedegrass lawns to thwart winter weeds like chickweed and annual bluegrass.
  3. If you want your poinsettia to turn color by Christmas, now's the time to begin giving it 14 hours of darkness and 10 hours of bright light each day.
  4. Trim back by one fourth any woody plants you've kept outdoors during the summer, to help them fit inside your home for the winter.
  5. Fertilize newly planted fescue with a high-phosphorus starter fertilizer.
  6. The pansy planting season begins now! Plant "six-pack" pansies eight inches apart, larger plants can be spaced ten inches apart.  Drench newly-planted pansies with water-soluble houseplant fertilizer at the rate shown on the label. This will push them off to a fast start.
  7. Cut brown flower stems of purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, daylily and hosta back to ground level.
  8. Move patio plants into shade for two weeks before bringing them inside. This will help prevent leaf drop.
  9. Apply a weed preventer to beds of already-planted cool-season flowers to prevent weed seeds from sprouting.
  10. Clean fallen fruit from the ground under pear and apple trees. Remove from the tree any fruit that you don't intend to harvest.
  11. Plant spring flowering bulbs, like tulip, daffodil and hyacinth. Old, crowded beds can be loosened and the bulbs divided and replanted now.
  12. Finish dividing daylily clumps, iris rhizomes and peony roots. Plant them into a well-dug bed immediately.
  13. Raise your mower height one-half inch and enjoy a last mowing of your Bermuda, centipede or zoysia lawn. You can now put your lawnmower to rest for the winter.
  14. Remove faded rose blooms. Clip wayward stems back so the plant has a compact form, ready for winter wind and ice.
  15. As chrysanthemum and aster flowers fade, cut the plants back to six inches tall.
  16. Rake out and replace all of the mulch and dead leaves under roses, red tip photinia and crabapples. You'll prevent diseases on next year's leaves.
  17. Fertilize pansies again with water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. Switch to a product that contains nitrate nitrogen (Osmocote, Pansy Booster, etc) when you feed in two weeks.

NOVEMBER:

  1. Blow or rake fallen leaves regularly from newly planted fescue lawns. Remove as many acorns as possible from all lawns.  Fertilize fescue lawns for a second time (and again in February and April). Use any turf fertilizer that's on sale.
  2. Apply a pre-emergent weed preventer to beds of pansies, bulbs and other cool-season annuals after planting if you've not already done so.
  3. This is the best time to plant spring-flowering bulbs now that the soil is cooler. Add fertilizer as you dig the bed.
  4. Dig caladium, elephant ear and dahlia bulbs now while you can still find them. Store in boxes of peat moss.
  5. Enjoy sasanqua camellia blooms. Cut a few to bring indoors and float in a crystal saucer for a dining table centerpiece.
  6. Shear chrysanthemums and asters down to four inches once the flowers fade.
  7. Rake out fallen leaves and replace the mulch under crabapples and dogwoods to prevent disease next year.
  8. Neaten perennial flower beds. Remove dry stems and dead leaves. Put fresh mulch under shrubs, trees and perennials.
  9. Fill bird feeders with black oil sunflower seeds. Birds will find and eat each seed and you won't accidentally feed chipmunks and rats.
  10. Fertilize again the pansies, snapdragons, cabbage and dianthus you planted a few weeks ago. Use a powdered, water-soluble fertilizer now but switch to a product containing "nitrate nitrogen" December thru March.
  11. Prepare your composting area for fall leaves. You can make a cheap bin from 4 foot wide fence wire 10 feet long. Bend it into a circle and join the ends together. Pile in leaves as you rake them. Spray each layer with water.
  12. Clean all of the old vines from tomato cages before putting them in storage. Pull up okra stalks plus squash and bean vines.
  13. Bring some rosemary inside to dry for winter use.
  14. Regularly water sod installed within the last two months. One-half inch per week will suffice.
  15. Divide your hanging basket of Boston fern into thirds and plant into three new baskets. Hang in a sunny window; by spring they'll be big enough to put outside.
  16. Continue to plant shrubs and trees. Even though its chilly outdoors, the soil is still warm enough to encourage root growth. Remove all of the twine, wire or paper trunk cover on each one.
  17. Tie up loose canes of climbing roses so they don't slap against the arbor or each other on windy days.
  18. Water weekly the pansies and other cool-season flowers you planted earlier.
  19. Spot-spray or dig out chickweed, violets and wild onions you find in your lawn.

From the Georgia Gardener, www.walterreeves.com

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