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Autumn Gardening

Wednesday, 02 October 2013 19:47  by Jessica W.

Gardening is a wonderful pastime that supports mental health: it has been shown to reduce risk of depression and anxiety while boosting mood. There is nothing as refreshing or grounding as spending time outdoors; time spent outside has the ability to make us feel connected with the world around us, both small and powerful at the same time.

When the weather turns cold and trees give their colorful leaves, the growing season still isn’t over! The colder months are a time to clean up our gardens and take stock of how we’d like to change them in the coming months. Here are some things to take care of in the fall:

  • Plant bulbs: Plant bulbs around six weeks before the ground freezes. Choose a variety of colors and flowers and plant in sunny areas where the soil drains well. Prepare the area by digging the soil so that it is workable and add compost. Plant with the pointy end up, five inches deep for small bulbs and eight inches for larger bulbs. Plant a variety of colors and flowers in clusters for a beautiful spring show. Take bloom-time, color and height into account; you can stagger bloom time, creating a succession of color, or plant bulbs that bloom together for a rainbow of flowers and colors.

  • Plant a tree: This is the best time to plant most trees. There is plenty of rain and still-warm soil to give tree roots a head-start for spring. This is also the time to plant roses and hedges. Avoid planting trees that root too slowly, such as birch or magnolias, as they may not survive the winter.

  • Make a shelter for wildlife: A woodpile creates excellent shelter for beneficial wildlife, as do brush piles and dead groundcover. Spiders, solitary bees and beneficial beetles overwinter in these and are useful for a thriving garden ecosystem that benefits your plants.

  • Late vegetables: This is the time to plant late vegetables like onions, garlic and broad beans. There are many varieties of garlic and onions; this could be a fun opportunity to experiment with different flavors. Research what other cool season crops grow in your area and when to plant them.

  • Clean up leaves: Leaving dead groundcover is important, but leaves and dead foliage should be cleared away to discourage fungi, rot and pests. Consider starting a compost to turn garden clippings into useful material. Leave dead stalks of plants whose seeds feed birds through the winter. Let dead sunflower heads dry and hang them up during the winter for birds.

  • Move herbs inside: Dig up cooking herbs like basil or thyme and bring them inside as houseplants. These add green and cheer to your home in winter. Keep in a sunny spot and remember to let the soil dry before watering.

With a bit of planning and a warm sweater, autumn is as beautiful a time as any to enjoy gardening. It is a time to plan and prepare, to ready our plants for winter and sow the seeds of spring.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 19:55

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