Ah autumn. The days are becoming shorter, the temperature has been dropping, and the risk of frost is going UP! However, the crisp, fall weather is ideal for playing in the garden and we thought we’d share a few seasonal tasks that will keep you on top of your garden game.
Right now, I’m busy collecting seeds in my garden. I love to gather seeds from as many open-pollinated veggie and flower varieties as possible and save them for next year’s garden. For dry seeds, such as tithonia, sunflowers, zinnias, and beans, I spread the collected seeds on a newspaper to dry for two to three weeks. I write each variety’s name right on the newspaper. Then, after the seeds are dry, I pack them into labeled envelopes and store them in the fridge. For my tomatoes, I follow these simple steps to collect and store the seeds. It’s surprisingly easy to save your own seeds!
If you brought some of your houseplants outside to bask in the glory of sunshine and fresh air all summer, you’re gonna want to debug them before you bring them back inside. Debugging and cleaning potted plants before bringing them indoors will help you avoid nasty houseplant pest infestations. Aphids, mealybugs and other nasty bugs aren’t usually a problem when the plants are outdoors, but can quickly turn into a major pain during the winter if they come inside on your houseplants.
It may be October, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to sow seeds in the veggie garden. In fact, this is my prime time for seeding overwintered greens like spinach, arugula, baby kale, and Asian greens. By late October, I’ll protect the bed with a mini hoop tunnel covered in clear plastic. The tiny plants will overwinter beneath the tunnel and when the day length is longer than 10 hours again – in early February – they’ll quickly start to grow. By March, I’ll be harvesting tender, gourmet greens – long before most gardeners even think about sowing seeds outdoors.
In the next couple of weeks, I will be in planting mode. Not only will I be planting garlic, the subject of our latest Savvy newsletter, I will be planting a few flower bulbs, as well, to add to my collection that comes up each spring. I recently interviewed Pamela Dangelmaier from Botanus, a mail-order bulb company located on the West Coast of Canada, for a newspaper article. Her number one tip to share with readers is to plant the bulbs as soon as you get them home from the nursery or as soon as you receive them in the mail. Many people treat bulbs like seeds, but they can dry out or become mouldy if they are not planted right away. I’ve certainly been guilty of getting sidetracked and letting my bulbs linger on a shelf. I do try to keep them in a cool, dry place (the garage) until I’m ready to dig them in. This year, I want to try planting a few interesting tulips, but I’ll have to surround them with daffodils to foil the squirrels!
What are you doing in your autumn garden? Planting? Seeding? Sowing? Collecting? Cleaning?