Recently, we have considered seasonal projects: harvesting annual seeds for planting and planting bulbs. Here are more timely garden projects.
More about bulbs: gophers avoid daffodils, which are toxic to them, so encircle a favored bed with daffodils to produce both a gopher barrier and a pleasing display for the spring. This project works best with island beds and costs least with wholesale prices (as little as 30¢ per bulb). A good source for daffodils by the hundred: Van Engelen, Inc., at www.vanengelen.com or (860) 567-8734.
Renovating Garden Beds
The fall is the ideal time to renovate a bed that has become neglected, overgrown or plain boring. First, clean out everything unwanted, reserving plants small enough to be relocated or given to friends.
Every three years, divide plants with rhizomes, tubers or bulbs. Divide overgrown plants by cutting their root balls into two or more segments, and replant.
Then, add compost, cultivate, and add fertilizer.
If the bed is larger than four feet in any dimension, install narrow paths to provide access to the plants without compressing the soil or stepping on plants.
Then, select plants that are right for your climate and the bed’s sun exposure, and that will grow to appropriate sizes. Also, choose plants that will combine well and please your eye.
Finally, plant, mulch and water. Keep watering until the rains take over.
The early fall is also time to control both annual and perennial weeds.
Annual weeds include bindweed, chickweed, crab grass, knotweed, lambs-quarters, mallow, pigweed, purple deadnettle, groundsel, nettle (common), purslane, speedwell, spurge and yellow oxalis.
Perennial weeds include bindweed, burdock, dandelion, dock, ground ivy, horsetail, Japanese knotweed, plantain, poison ivy, purslane, quackgrass, thistle, ragweed and anything else you might have.
The primary strategy for organic weed control is to remove weed seeds before they mature and are dispersed. Hoeing weeds before they set seed can be effective with annual weeds.
This method certainly helps to reduce the spread of perennial weeds, but it leaves behind root segments that could re-grow. For this reason, perennial weed control includes removing the entire root system by pulling or digging. Persistence is the gardener’s friend!
Other organic approaches to weed control include providing a three-to-four inch layer of mulch between plants, to deny weed seeds the light and air they need to grow. Dense spacing of desirable plants also can crowd out weeds.
Finally, drip irrigation systems deliver water to desired plants and deny water to weeds.
Enjoy gardening in the fall!
A helpful resource for organic weed control is the website, Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Weeds, maintained by the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program. This site includes weed photos, articles and fact sheets in individual weeds that are common in California gardens and landscapes.