October is the time to prepare for next year. Have your soil tested
to determine if there are any mineral deficiencies or imbalances
that need to be corrected, and make those corrections now. Fertilize
one last time with Bradfield 3-1-5. This gives the microbes all
winter to break down the organics into usable plant nutrients.
It’s also a good time to plant cover crops of winter peas,
vetch, clovers, oats, rye, etc. in garden or crop areas to improve
soil nitrogen and other nutrient content and reduce erosion. Compost
can be added to improve soil structure and tilth. It is also a
good time to replenish mulch around landscape beds. If you are
in a dry area be sure to water young plantings. This will help
them get established and be better able to withstand the cold winter
Question: Can I apply lime to my garden or lawn
Answer: Yes, fall is the ideal time, as lime
breaks down slowly. Applying lime in the fall means that it will
become incorporated into the soil over winter and will be ready
for the new growth of spring. But if your lawn/garden needs it
now, by all means apply it. However, be sure to conduct a soil
test first to determine if you really need it, and if so, how much.
Too much lime is just as harmful as too little (if pH gets too
high, nutrients become unavailable to the plant). If the recommended
application is over 50 lbs/1000 square feet, you may want to break
it into multiple applications for aesthetic reasons (a lot of lime
can lie there like a white powder for quite some time after application).
Question: Can I prune my linden tree now?
Answer: The only pruning that should be done
to any tree in the fall is the removal of dead or damaged branches.
All trees are gradually going into dormancy so that they can survive
the ensuing cold weather. Pruning of healthy branches has a stimulating
effect and could interrupt the natural process of preparing for
Question: Our garden did not do well this year.
Could the soil be worn out?
Answer: It is not likely that your soil is worn
out. There are many factors contributing to a poor crop. One of
them might be that nutrients are present but not available to the
plants. Another might be an imbalance of critical nutrients. For
a starting point, take a sample of your garden soil to the Extension
Office or a good soil lab to be analyzed. The solution could be
as simple as adding lime to raise the pH of a too-acidic soil.
Use of an organic fertilizer such as Bradfield and addition of
compost will help to build a healthy, robust soil over time that
will nurture a strong garden year after year. Fall is a good time
to start preparing for next year’s garden.
Question: Some of my raspberry bushes have spots
on the canes. Should I do something about this before next season?
Answer: Removing the fruiting canes (which bear
only once) immediately after harvest helps reduce disease and insect
infections passing from the old canes to the new ones. Keep the
area weed-free since some weeds are alternate hosts of disease
as well as food and protection for insects. In the early spring
spray the bushes with a commercial lime and copper sulfate spray,
called a “bordeaux mix”, which can be purchased at
most garden centers. Be sure to follow directions carefully, as
improper use can burn the foliage.
Question: Should I do anything special for peonies
in the fall?
Answer: Peonies are a hardy group of plants,
but they can be susceptible to botrytis blight. As a preventative,
cut the stems to the ground and dispose of any debris. Spray the
soil with a bordeaux mix (copper sulfate and hydrated lime) now,
in the fall, and again in the early spring when the shoots first
appear. Peonies prefer a mostly sunny location. Fertilize in the
spring with Bradfield 3-1-5.
Question: How and when should I prepare houseplants
to bring them back into the house?
Answer: It is a good idea to bring the houseplants
back into the house when outdoor conditions are similar to indoor
conditions, when days are moderately warm and nights are moderately
cool. This presents the plant with the least amount of environmental
change and will allow for quick adjustment. Wash the foliage thoroughly.
If insects are apparent, spray with insecticidal soap. To get rid
of the travelers that hide in the soil, soak the pot and all in
a solution of two tablespoons hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water
for about twenty minutes. This should send any unwanted visitors
scurrying to the surface where you can dispose of them.
For more information on organic fertilizing techniques, visit www.safelawns.org.
Early Spring, 2007