Fall is the time to tidy up your gardens and put them to bed for the winter, before the first frost. Here is a checklist of garden chores to take care of in the coming weeks:
October may be a difficult month to imagine your garden full of spring blossoms, but now is the time to plant the bulbs that will reward you with a riot of color after the dark days of winter.
When choosing where to plant your hyacinths, daffodils, tulips or iris, consider bloom time and height, as well as color. The key to a successful spring bloom is to choose healthy, firm bulbs from a reputable dealer, and to follow their planting instructions for depth, spacing, and sun requirements.
If your gardens are visited by squirrels and moles, use chicken wire over the top of your bulb beds for protection. When those first few leaves begin to poke through the early spring snow, you’ll be glad you did.
You’re probably thinking that it’s too late in the season to start an herb from seed, but cilantro is one that prefers cooler temperatures and can even endure a light frost. Because it grows and goes to seed quickly, it is best to sow smaller, successive plantings that can be frequently cut and used in salads, to flavor mayonnaise, or added to fresh salsa and pasta sauce.
To plant, choose a wide container and use well-draining soil and an organic fertilizer. Moisten the soil and sow the seeds, pressing them gently so that they are barely covered with planting medium. Keep the pot moist with a mister and place full sun.
Once the plants are at least four inches high, you can start harvesting leaves as needed. One pot should yield several weeks of delicious cilantro!
There is hardly anything more beautiful in the garden than a mature hydrangea in full bloom. Tempting as it is to cut the first blossoms, it is best to use some restraint. Hydrangeas need to mature on their stems before they are cut for indoor arrangements.
Wait until the flowers have been open for at least two weeks, and the edges of the petals have begun to turn color. Cut at 12 to 18 inches below the flower head and place immediately in a container of tepid water that comes half way up the stems.
As the water slowly evaporates, the hydrangea petals will turn papery. If kept out of direct sun, the dried blossoms will be beautiful for months!