Now that autumn is here I have officially given up on watering the garden. The cooler temperatures are not as deadly as the summertime heat, and the rain we had a week ago should be enough to keep things alive. So things are on their own for a while.
Most of the vegetable garden is done anyway. Yesterday I let the kids pick the pumpkins and decorate the porch for Halloween.
The ‘Red Wing’ onions were also harvested as well as the last of the eggplant. This pretty much finishes up the garden for the year (with the exception of a few peppers and a single brussel sprout plant). It’s a shame the dry weather sapped all my enthusiasm for a fall planting, the idea of a fresh lettuce harvest right about now sounds very nice.
Despite the end of regular watering, the dahlias continue to put out flowers and carry on. But they are beginning to look tired, and anytime the sun gets strong the leaves wilt. Just about everything looks tired.
The only dahlia that actually looks better now is this one. I need to look up the name, but the color that looked awful in July shines in autumn.
In case you haven’t already picked up on it, the vegetable garden tends to become a flower garden as the season progresses. Any gap in the plantings quickly fills with self sown verbena, Persicaria orientalis, and amaranthus ‘hot biscuits’. The amaranthus has a weedy look that not everyone appreciates, but I like it, and have been very generous with spreading the seedlings throughout the yard. At this time the seedheads seem to glow in the autumn sun.
The glow of autumn light is a signal to start thinking about protecting the tender plants for winter. My fig has had a troubled season. It spent the winter in the dark of the garage and began sprouting in January. The sprouts dried off by March but then a few pots of water brought some new shoots for April. By May I decided to use its pot for other, healthier looking plants, and while the fig waited for a new home (perched with rootball exposed on a spare saucer) it died again, this time I thought for good… on to the compost pile it went. But like cats, apparently figs have several lives. Around July I noticed a few sprouts coming up out of the compost and upon investigation found the fig root ball to be the source. Finally it was given a decent home, and it’s grown this year without any resentment. Now what to do this winter…..
Also needing a winter home are the tropicals on the deck. Even though I only paid three dollars for this red dipladenia, I can’t let it die! So either the dipladenia or the pansies will need to be repotted and brought in. I would have never thought of this combo, but pansy seeds do their own thing.
I don’t even want to think about the rest of the non-hardy deck plants. They’re growing and blooming and doing well in general even though I never got around to any of the summertime repotting or transplanting I had planned.
The geranium should hang on in the dark of the garage, maybe the rosemary, but I’ll need someplace warmer for the coleus.
Fortunately the tropical garden survives the winter by seed or stored tuber. No windowsills needed for this end of the garden.
…and I’m finally getting some work done instead of just sipping drinks in the shade. The compost pile was turned and a bonanza of “god enough” compost was found underneath. It’s as dry as a bone in the pile, so I’m surprised there was any decay going on at all, but the plants will love it and I’m grateful for any scraps I find. the question will be “who gets it?”
Actually there’s no question, my favorite new bulbs always get the scarce compost. Here’s the newest bed in the back of the meadow. A privet hedge (luckily privet isn’t invasive here) is planned for along the fence, and a snowdrop (galanthus) bed will get its start here. I’ll bore you with the varieties next spring but for now here’s a picture of my usual low work (ie lazy) bed preparations.A couple inches of topsoil from elsewhere in the garden is spread out, bulbs are pressed down into the raked surface, a few inches of compost is used to top off and cover. The compost I used has a good amount of soil mixed in, but if it was more organic I’d cover the bulbs with a layer of garden soil too. They should be just fine here, and I’ll give them a good mulch of chopped autumn leaves once they come down.
I celebrate fall with bulb planting, I love getting the bulbs nestled down into the earth for next spring, I just wish the soil wasn’t so unfriendly and dry.