Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September (Late September) Garden Talks

Hello again,

I cannot believe we are approaching late September. The saying that time just keeps going faster is indeed so true!

Pumpkins Galore at Skillin's! Along with Corn Stalks, Mums and Pansies!!

Click HERE for mid September Garden Talks!

Now much more Garden Talks for you. We Know gardens:

*Fall to an avid gardener with grass and dirt stained knees and dirty hands can be difficult to adjust to. However, fall is a great time of year to actually improve your garden. One of the first steps you should take is to apply lime to your lawn and gardens. Generally at the end of the growing season the production effort leaves a garden with a pH of 5.5 to 6.0, so we advise adding lime at a rate of about 5 pound per 100 square feet to eventually raise the pH to about 6.5 to 7.0. This higher pH level will allow your plants to receive a wider range of nutrients. Generally, we should only lime our areas one time per year. Also your garden may well not need lime every year. If you have limed for 2 to 3 consecutive years pick up a simple pH tester at Skillin's. Check out that pH. If your soil registers at about 6.5 to 7.0, do not apply lime that year. The lime I recommend is either Fast Acting Lime by Encap—it is a calcium based lime that is better than most limes for at least two reasons: 1) Calcium is an excellent organic additive to your soil. It benefits your plants tremendously by helping to “keep free” the flow of beneficial nutrients to your plants roots. 2) Magnesium based lime can actually aid weeds as magnesium adds a natural soil compactor. Many of the plants we prefer don’t like growing in compact soils but unfavorable weeds like plantain, dandelions, crabgrass and ajuga don’t mind compact soils a bit!

*Gardening friend Margaret of A Way to Garden writes: "DON’T PANIC IF EVERGREENS start to show some browning or yellowing of needles this month and next. The oldest, innermost needles typically shed after a few years on the tree." Late September and October can often bring some yellowing on the inside of the trees. This is not a huge concern for older trees; however, 2012 planted pines should receive good deep waterings once weekly between now and when the ground freezes. These waterings will make the pines healthier for next year and beyond. Also a light feeding of Hollytone by Espoma (sold right here at Skillin's) is not a bad idea for your evergreen trees if they have not been fed for awhile.

*More great tips from Margaret of A Way to Garden:  "PARSLEY AND CHIVES can be potted up and brought indoors for offseason use, or freeze some (or give the plants some extra protection and keep harvesting from the garden). A few garlic cloves in a pot will yield a supply of chive-like (but spicier) garlic greens all winter for garnish." I think parsley makes an attractive house plant too! Nice and green!

DAYLILIES can be dug and divided as they complete their bloom cycle, right into fall, if needed.

PEONIES are best divided and transplanted in late August through September, if they need it. Remember with these fussy guys that “eyes” must not be buried more than an inch or two beneath the soil surface. Great advice--now is the time to re set those peonies!

MANY POPULAR ANNUALS can be overwintered as young plants if you take and root cuttings now rather than try to nurse along leggy older specimens. Geraniums, coleus, wax begonias, even impatiens (to name just a few common ones), if grown in good light indoors and kept pinched and bushy, will yield another generation of cuttings for next spring’s transplants. Probably best to expend this effort and space on things you really treasure—an unusual form of something, not the garden variety. Again great advice here. I love keeping geraniums through the winter. Margaret writes about keeping your annuals "pinched and bushy" and I agree totally!

REST AMARYLLIS BULBS by putting them in a dry, dark place where they will have no water at all for a couple of months. I put mine in a little-used closet.

Thanks Margaret and I highly recommend her Garden Website, A Way to Garden!

*Too many plants and too little space in your vegetable garden? Plan next years garden now and note how many plants you really should have in your plot. Make sure there is walkable space between rows of small plants and walkable space between each tomato plant and vine crop plant! Let us know if you have any questions about vegetable gardening! We Know vegetable gardening!!

*It is vital to thoroughly CLEAN your yard in the fall. However, just don't admire those newly cleaned wide open spaces in your garden. Fall is a great time for soil preparation! Get some Pro Gro by North Country Organics or Plant Tone by Espoma worked into the soil (especially if your soil has only had one natural feeding this year. Miracle Gro does not qualify as a natural feeding!)  As I often write, these fertilizers are the best and most long-term way to bring nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium naturally to your soil.

Then lay some compost as a top dressing in those open spaces and around your plants. If you have no compost, my favorite bagged compost for this job is Fundy Mix by Coast of Maine. Fundy mix is an excellent product to "top dress" around plant material as great organic matter and as a nice mulch or cover. For VERY wide open spaces that is a future home to more plants, actually work some of your compost material OR a great garden compost like Little River Blend Compost or Quoddy Blend by Coast of Maine. (Composted Manure by Jolly Gardener would also work well!)

*It is just a great time to plant trees and shrubs. We have new plants arriving all the time as well freshly dug Skillin grown pines and spruce. And all on sale: Deciduous trees are 40% off, freshly dug Skillin grown evergreens are 30% off and shrubs are buy 1 get 10%, buy 3 get 20%, and buy 5 get 30%, !!

Why is it a great time to plant? The soil is still warm, rains are more frequent and the cooler air temps make for great acclimation conditions for your plants. Plus with a great selection AND sale prices that means Fall is for Planting. WE KNOW shrubs and trees here at Skillin's!

*Continue to prune out and clean out dead growth in your perennial and annual gardens. By removing dead and brown growth you are preventing problems for next year. As good gardening friend Paul Parent reminds us, "Insects and disease know that cooler weather means the end of their life cycle, and to continue their future they must lay eggs on that dying foliage. Diseases make spores for next year also. If you clean the garden this fall, you will have fewer problems next year..."

*Store your harvest properly. Potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, cabbage and celery should be kept in a humid atmosphere at about 35-40 degrees. Squash and pumpkins should be stored in a dry area at 40-60 degrees. Onions and dry beans should be kept at 33 degrees in a dry area." Good storage habits make great tasting natural food.

*Begin placing your poinsettias in darkness for 16 hours each day. The reduction in light will cause the bracts to "bloom" in time for the holidays.” The best way to do this is to place a large bag over your poinsettias at about 5 or 6 PM and then remove the bag the next morning. Keep this routine going daily until the end of October.

*Your Christmas cactus should rest in a cool, dim room with little water. Bring it back out Nov. 15 for holiday bloom. One of the most gorgeous flowering plants around! We will have some young Christmas cactus available in November; these plants can grow to be quite old!

*Plant fall and winter crops. Lettuce, radish, swiss chard and spinach can all be planted now in a hoop house or cold frame for fresh produce in the colder months. Many gardeners have cold frames that they use in the Spring to grow tender plants. These cold frames can be used now for vegetables!

Red Sails and other Lettuces Can Still be Seeded in a Cold Frame!

*Bulb planning and planting time is upon us and we have an awesome Bulb Planning and Planting class scheduled for Saturday, October 6 in Brunswick, Cumberland or Falmouth. We still have openings at Brunswick and Cumberland. The class is FREE and We Know bulbs! Contact us at skillins@maine.rr.com and just specify the location to sign up.

Here are 2 links to our Skillin's Garden Log that talk about popular bulbs for you to consider and plant: Hyacinths and Daffodils, Narcissus and Jonquils.

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
September 18, 2012

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