Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall Chores

It's an absolutely gorgeous day in Central New York today - sunny, around 62F, with a little breeze.  I subbed this morning, but I just couldn't stay inside all afternoon, even with the mega-pile of laundry needing to be folded.  I'll fold when it gets dark; the laundry isn't going anywhere.  I spent a nice chunk of time out in the back yard instead.

This time of year is my favorite weather-wise, because it tends to be cool, with low humidity.  I'm not a sun-lover at all; I'd far rather be chilly than hot.  This is also my favorite gardening weather, for the above reasons.  Plus, I enjoy the slow routine of getting the garden ready for winter - putting it to bed, as it were.  There are a number of things to do around the yard, and I pick away at them for most of October and into November.  We had our first frost last night (unusually late for our part of NY), so the tender annuals are kaput and ready to be removed. 

Here's sample of what I do each fall in my garden:

1.  Pull weeds - well, that goes on from April to October, but by now the annual weeds are dying and are easy to pull, and the perennial weeds that survived previous weeding blitzes are easy to spot and remove, and not much will grow back before winter settles in for good.

2.  Put a fresh edge on the flower beds.  The grass creeps in relentlessly - I have to tidy the borders several times a year.

3.  Pull the dead/dying annuals, except for the frost hardy ones (like violas, pansies, and snapdragons, that don't mind the frost and will bloom for a few more weeks if I'm lucky).

4.  Thin out my daylily seedlings.  The ones that bloomed I marked with a tag, indicating keep or compost.  The rejects got dug up today.

5.  Cut off and compost or bundle dead perennials and flower stalks.  That includes the daylilies, Siberian irises, hollyhocks, sweet annie, and others.

6.  Dig out the bottom of the compost pile and spread it around where needed.  There's a nice layer of black gold at the bottom of the bin now.  I think shifting that will be my project this weekend (since Safety Guy is in hock to me for some stuff he got at a garage sale, and owes me some yard work).

7.  Dig out and mulch any new garden beds I want.  There won't be much of that this year - I just expanded one this spring, and added the raised beds for veggies, so I'm good.  I do need to add more compost and mulch to the two remaining boxes that didn't get the full treatment in the spring.  That's another chore I can drag Safety Guy into.

8.  Plant bulbs.  I'm like a squirrel burying nuts when it comes to bulbs.  I have some allium Purple Sensation to plant, and I can always find room for more tulips and daffodils.  Speaking of that, I need to get some of my favorite daffodils in ASAP.

9.  Move any perennials that I want to establish in a new location.  Today I lifted a peony that has lagged in its growth - I think I planted it too deep after we  moved, and that can stunt them.  Hopefully it will be happier a couple inches higher.

10.  Empty out containers into the raised beds, and compost the dead annuals.  I don't use the same soil every year in the small containers - it's much easier to start fresh each year and not have to deal with old roots in a small space.  I do leave the soil in the biggest containers year round, but I dig out the old root balls and refresh the mix when I plant in them in the spring.