Fall Garden Week 12

8 WEEKS BEFORE FIRST EXPECTED FROST (DEC. 10)

Fall is definitely here now and gardening is so much nicer, comfortable.

But, there is something you need to pay attention to right now.

Where’s the sun?

A few weeks ago I was marveling at how sunny my garden was. Yet today when I look at my garden, less than half of it gets any direct sun at all.

The sun has moved lower in the sky that much, so that the large trees (our lot is heavily wooded) south of the garden shade out about 2/3 of the garden. Recently, some of those trees were trimmed and the garden is brighter, but still shaded.

The lower the sun is in the sky, the longer/bigger the cast shadows of trees and buildings and fences will be.

As the sun gets lower in the sky (from mid June to mid December) the shadows will creep across your yard, covering more and more area.

As the sun gets higher in the sky (from mid December to mid June) the shadows will reverse their creep and get smaller and smaller and closer to their source.

Eventually, those trees will be loosing their leaves and dappled sun will shine into my garden again. But in the meantime, I need to do something to get light in there so that the plants in the shaded part can thrive in the interim.

What I’ll do is put up white panels to reflect light into the shade. I’ve tried using the white inside of large dog food bags that have been cut open and attached to the fencing, getting the big sturdy boxes refrigerators come in and painting them white (those boxes lasted a surprisingly long time), I’ve propped up some remnant pieces of white vinyl fencing along the south side of my pineapple bed… and I’ve painted the 6 foot wooden fence panels that border 2 sides of the garden, white. The difference in brightness is AMAZING!!

You can even stick little white panels (wood, cardboard plastic…) in the dirt right up close to the plants in order to reflect more light onto specific plants.

Use your imagination – it’s your best, most powerful gardening tool.

You need to check your garden for light too and make corrections as needed.

CHECK SHEET

Zone 9’s first frost date is expected between mid-November and mid-January or so, very ambiguous.  This check sheet is created using a mid-date of December 10th. The first frost date can be expected a couple of weeks earlier in northern areas of Zone 9 and a couple of weeks later in the southern areas of Zone 9.

8 Weeks Before First Expected Frost (December 10th)

TASKS

  • Continue with your gardening journal – list what you are doing, observations, weather…
  • ** CHECK YOUR GARDEN AND OTHER GROWING SPACES FOR SHADING and ADEQUATE LIGHT” MAKE NECESSARY CORRECTIONS!!!
  • Add compost and other soil amendments
  • Consider growing a wall or hanging garden
  • Fertilize as needed – but less than usual
  • Look for specialty fertilizing needs (focusing more on root growth than foliage growth)
  • Get strawberry plants – be sure they are for zone 9. Buy them in bare-root bunches, not individual potted plants. Sometimes feed stores, garden centers, and hardware stores will have them… and you can order them through a seed/plant/nursery company
  • Last chance to take cuttings of fruiting plants to root

SEEDS TO PLANT

Plant in the ground – transplants and seeds

Warm weather plants

None

Cool weather plants

  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Celery
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion – bulbing
  • Onion – multiplier
  • Onion – bunching
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnip
  • Garlic
  • STRAWBERRIES
  • Fruit trees and bushes (citrus, blueberries, etc.) They will develop roots and then bud out and grow in the spring

CONTAINERS (for container gardening)

(Plant your container garden just the same as for non-container garden)

You can try growing some of the warm weather plants in containers if you can move/keep the containers to a protected warm place and provide extra light.

PAY EXTRA SPECIAL ATTENTION TO WATERING CONTAINERED PLANTS!!!   Your plants have filled their containers with roots and suck the water out of the soil, drying it out really really quickly… particularly large or mature plants with a well established root system

MAINTENANCE

  • Weed – always be weeding
  • Keep an eye on water needs – Check twice a day (This is a dry time of year and less humid. Gardens and plants can get stressed reeeeal quickly)
  • HARVEST – as soon as items are ready. Plants are growing slower and don’t have as much energy to mature produce… give them a break

CHORES

  • Weed
  • Rake leaves and collect leaves and grass clippings curbside for your compost pile and mulch
  • Turn your compost pile – start another compost pile or two

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