Since spring and summer came early this year, I'm getting a head start on fall gardening:
1. Get garden shears and clippers sharpened. Unlike spring, there's no rush now and this way you will be ready next spring should it come early again. Most places that sharpen scissors can sharpen garden tools. If you don't know of a place, email me and I will tell you where I take mine.
2. Update garden diary abandoned mid-summer. At least I did, I got tired of writing “too hot to garden.” I did note what plants did well – as in survive - in our record heat and drought.
3. Plant spring bulbs. If you want something critter-resistant, plant daffodils. Tulip bulbs are lovely but they are edible. Mice use mole runs to get to the bulbs they eat; deer like the greenery and, if my sister were around, she would be picking tulip flowers for her salad.
4. Don't cut anything down yet that looks dead. Most plants and trees go into a dormant mode to survive record heat and drought. Wait until next spring to determine whether a tree, bush or plant survived this year. You may just be pleasantly surprised.
5. Plant chrysanthemums. Help them pull through winter by watering them once a week during cold months. They are supposed to be perennials.
6. Stop fertilizing flower beds. Although plants appreciated the extra assist this year, it's time for them to slow down to get ready for winter.
7. Stockpile mulch. It's not time to mulch yet, wait until after the first frost. Mulching basically protects plants from the heaving and thawing from temperature changes. Best to cover with mulch after frost so mulch helps keep grounds around plants evenly cold.
8. Collect seeds to dry, label and use next year. If you have heirloom vegetable seeds or favorite annuals that survived summer, collect seed pods. I use paper-lined baskets and tuck them in over my refrigerator where hot air helps dry them. Store in recycled, cleaned plastic containers with labels in a dry, cool spot for use next year.
9. If you bag leaves, you can actually store those filled bags in a garden corner and find yourself with a lovely source of free spring compost.
10. Trim and feed your potted plants systemic insecticide so you can bring them inside without any unwelcome hitchhikers. Did you know in the right conditions, tomatoes are perennials? I usually bring in a pot of green peppers, a large pot of catnip and a couple of tomato plants.
Last year, one of my cats discovered cherry tomatoes make great rolling toys. This year, I'm putting a little fence around the plant to protect it.
My brother said that will make it a lot easier for the cat to get to the tomatoes….
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins shares her gardening adventures at http://www.gardeningcharlotte.com. Copyright 2012 used with permission by The Rolla Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.