3. Finding places to plant more fall bloomers - I'm not sure why, but fall is quite often an overlooked time of the year for landscape color. We have a huge variety of late summer and fall blooming perennials and ornamental grass to choose from, so the fall garden can be every bit as colorful as the spring garden.
Look around your yard and identify where new late summer and fall bloomers could be planted. Recognize that late season flowers are also a vitally important nectar source for bees and migrating butterflies and hummingbirds. (Your neighborhood bee keepers will thank you!)
Here are just a few of my late season favorites color and nectar:
4. Feeding the Soil - Fall is the ideal time to revitalize your soil. In organic gardening, we "feed the soil to feed our plants." By applying organic and natural fertilizers like compost, Yum Yum Mix (or Yum Yum Mix Winterizer) and Planters II trace mineral mix in the fall, the soil's microbial and earthworm populations will eat these amendments and release ready-to-absorb nutrients for plants to uptake during the spring growth cycle. (Refer to my recent blog on fall fertilizing to learn the specifics.)
5. Mulching - After you've scratched the compost and Yum Yum Mix into the soil, cover and insulate the soil with mulch. I recommend mulching twice annually, as non-gravel mulch materials decompose into the soil over the summer. Thicken up your mulch layer to insulate the soil and prolong underground root growth and microbial digestion of the fertilizers.
6. Watering - Many perennials and woody trees and shrubs appreciate deep soakings every couple of weeks, especially when it's been a warm, dry fall. Fall watering is especially important to this season's transplants. And I always give my landscape one last good soaking in early November before I shut off my drip system for the winter months.
7. Winterizing Cold Tender Plants - We gardeners love a challenge. And for me, one of those challenges is growing plants that aren't typically considered cold hardy for my area. Beautiful, hummingbird attracting Salvia (Salvia greggii and greggii hybrids), Hummingbird Mint (Agastache), culinary Rosemary (Rosmarinus) and South African succulents like Ice plant (Delosperma) are some of the plants with which I stretch the boundaries of cold hardiness.
Here are a few ways to over-winter new transplants:
Plants being grown in areas at the edge of their cold hardiness, need protection for the first couple of winters to allow them to grow a mature crown (junction of root and stem). Full cold-hardiness comes with maturity. Provide extra insulation to protect these young plants from extreme winter temperatures. I like to mound up pine needles over 6 to 12 inches of the stems. (If pine needles are unavailable, coarse textured leaves from deciduous trees are excellent.) Leave in place until late March, then remove.
Don't cut them back. Leave the plant stems standing and cut back in mid-spring. With succulents like Ice plant, it is vitally important to allow them to dehydrate over the fall months by not watering them after September. In wet climates, make sure they are well mulched with gravel so their stems are not in direct contact with bare dirt.