Autumn

 

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Highlights of helpful gardening articles here to explore -

Coping with the 
dastardly Lily beetle.

Shrub Pruning Tips

Black Walnut allelopathy
and the toxin, Juglone

Winter Garden Protection

Seed starting 

Correct planting of 
new trees & shrubs

Increasing Drought Tolerance.

"Low"maintenance gardening?

 

Spring Early Summer High Summer Autumn Winter

 

 

Bits 'n bites on
things to do, or
things happening,
in the October / November garden. 
Articles here are
collected from
my "Dirty Knees"
newsletter and
some of my
seminars, and appear
 in no particular order.
 

 

Index to a few highlights here in Autumn Notes for Newmarket gardeners.  (Late Sept, Oct. & Nov).

Saving Canna's and other tender perennials over winter.

What to do with all those leaves, leaves and more leaves!

 

 
 

Chopped leaves are the best organic
matter for lawns and gardens. 
from
"Outside My Window", Nov. 10th, 2010

Organic Matter.  We've heard about it over and over again as the essential ingredient that turns plain dirt into gardening soil.   At this time of year it always boggles me why I continue to see all those yard waste bags lined up at the curb for pick up.   Such a waste!  It's the very best stuff for your garden, but somehow we continue to see all the fallenA huge pile of leaves chopped down to just a small pile that will be raked into the lawn to feed the soil. leaves as a problem instead of the blessing that it is.  Mother Nature's circle of life at it's finest - leaves have taken away nutrition from the soil during the growing season, and in fall all those nutrients are returned to the soil.  Just a bit of help from  earth worms who will pull the leaves underground where they'll break down and enrich the soil is the next step.  
A perfect circle, until we intervene and remove the fallen leaves as though it was in fact yard "waste".  

Once chopped to a small size, these leaf bits will be quickly pulled underground by earthworms to improve and aerate the soil.Chop them up a bit with your lawn mower and then use them instead to  - mulch around the base of roses;  prepare a new garden bed;  mulch your perennial garden to protect the soil surface from the winter sun;   mulch thick around any new plants going into their first winter;  on, and on.  Fallen leaves are the best and the cheapest way to keep your garden soil healthy.  This year - keep that gardener's gold for yourself - better still, ask your neighbour to give you their leaves!  The more the better - just chop them first and there's nothing better for your garden - weed free, nutritious, pure organic matter.  
  Click here for more info.)

Cheers!

                   Evelyn  Wolf  

 


   

 

 

 

 

"Outside My Window" from November 2008 
Saving Canna Rhizomes.

Cannas are one of those old fashioned favourites that have made a comeback in recent years.  'Tropicanna' is the most flamboyant, with multi-coloured leaves and bright orange flowers.  They're tender plants though - happy year round only in a warmer climate, but with just a bit of fuss they're very easy to over-winter indoors for next year's use. 

Here's how
-
AFTER they have been through a hard frost and  their leaves are brown and wilted, (early November usually) dig the fat rhizomes out of the ground , rinse off the dirt, and leave them out in a dry breezy place out of the sun for about a week - indoors if there's a chance temperatures will go below zero. 

All surfaces must be well dried. Cut the old foliage stem off approx. 3" up from the rhizome and make sure the stem stub surface is also dry.   Think potato. Exactly as a potato is dry on the surface but still moist inside, that's what you're aiming at for the Canna rhizomes although the stem stub will take a bit longer to dry out. 

A wide and shallow cardboard box is perfect for storage.  The cardboard breathes and the small openings ensure a bit of air flow.  (No tight lidded plastic!). Lay the Canna rhizomes out in a single layer with stem end up.  Put the box in a dark spot in the basement with the box lid open until the stem stub has completely dried out - perhaps another 2 -3 weeks.  (I've never bothered with any packing material like peat moss or sawdust.). Then close the box loosely and forget about them 'til early-March when you can split them into 3"-4" pieces, Canna 'Tropicanna'  Flamboyant and Boldeach with a growth bud, and pot them up into a very sunny window.  Or, if you don't have a good sunny window, wait until the end of April before bringing them out of storage and plant them right in the garden in early May.

The key to success is making sure there is NO excess surface moisture to cause rot while they are in storage.  Err on the too dry side if in doubt - as long as the rhizome is still firm, the Canna is just fine.  Out in the garden the bold foliage of Canna 'Tropicanna' looks wonderful backed by a tall delicate leaved Miscanthus such as 'Gracillimus' or 'Silberfeder'.

                                                    Cheers!  Evelyn


   
 

MORE HOW-TO's on overwintering other tender perennials -
The degree of difficulty in overwintering and growing Canna, Gladiola, Caladium, purple Oxalis, tuberous Begonia, Dahlia,  Geranium, or Amaryllis again for a new season is different for each, but some are very easy.  Just a cool dark corner in the basement is all many need as long as you condition them correctly in autumn. 

All perennials have a dormant period - hardy perennials and tender perennials alike.  The only difference is that tender perennials need their roots to be rescued before our winter freezes their roots.  As long as you leave them out in the garden long enough in the fall for them to feel some of their natural dormancy triggers such as lessening daylight hours and changing temperatures, and finally a light frost, it can be as simple as digging them out of the ground and putting them somewhere where they won't freeze.

The mistake many gardeners make is digging up tender perennials before the plants have a chance to experience all the necessary dormancy triggers.  The plants then continue to try to grow since they didnít receive all the dormancy triggers and basically, just plain don't know that the season is over!  They'll die over winter in their attempt to grow without sunlight or moisture.  

Most of the above mentioned savable plants are bulbs, tubers or rhizomes making them very simple to overwinter.  Others are fibrous rooted plants adapted to a hot dry climate, like Geranium (Pelargonium), where dormancy is triggered by the dry season.  Fibrous rooted plants are best stored with some soil protecting their finer roots, but kept almost bone dry and therefore dormant.  

Hereís the rules of thumb.   

AFTER they have been through a hard frost that browned and wilted leaves, late October usually, dig tubers (e.g. Dahlia, Colocasia), bulbs (e.g. Calla, Amaryllis), corms (e.g. Oxalis, Gladiola) or rhizomes (e.g. Canna, Ginger,), out of the ground.  Cut the stems down to approx. 3".  Remove any large clumps of dirt and put the bare roots in a dry, breezy, shady place for about a week - indoors if there's any chance temperatures will go below zero.  All surfaces must be well dried, including the cut stem end.  Mold and fungus is the main enemy in dormant storage and itís best to err on the too-dry side than the not-dry-enough side. Think potato.  Think of what happens to a potato thatís stored with even just a bit of moisture on the surface Ė mold and rot.  Youíre aiming at a completely dry exterior and a moist fleshy interior Ė just like a potato.

Once all surfaces are dry, pop them into a cardboard box, paper bag, or wrap in newspaper. No plastic! They need to breathe to allow for that little bit of air on the surfaces to keep them dry.  Whatever you store them in, they shouldn't touch each other.  I wrap each loosely in newspaper and store the wrapped packages in a large pot without a cover on it.  The newspaper keeps any light out and keeps a bit of air flowing. Put the box or pot in a cool dark spot where the temperature NEVER goes below freezing. 

Thatís it!  you basically can forget about them until itís time to stir them out of dormancy in late winter by gradually reintroducing them to sunlight and water.  

In March/April, depending on the speed of growth of the particular plant, pot them up in some clean fresh potting soil and water lightly.  A warm spot will speed things along.  Once new growth appears, start watering with fertilizer mixed at 1/2 strength, and get them into as much sunlight as possible until all risk of frost has passed when they can go into their permanent outdoor spot.  Exactly when to bring them out of storage depends on whether you have a very sunny window or not, and the particular plant's speed of growth.  If you donít have such a place, itís better to leave them until late April or so that they can go straight outdoors when spring brings warm temperatures.

A few extra tips Ė

 -  For fat fleshy stemmed plants like Canna or Colocasia, cut them to within 2-3" of the root and dry them upside down to make sure all moisture drains out of the fat stem of leaves at the base.

- Store tubers and rhizomes whole - leave dividing into smaller individual sections for spring when thereís far less danger of the exposed cut surfaces developing mold.  When dividing make sure each piece has an ďeyeĒ or growth point.

- Dahlia tubers have their new growth bud at the point where the old stem meets root.  With a sharp knife, be sure to get a piece of the old stem still attached to the tuber.  A fat fleshy tuber without that little top bud will give you nothing.   Conversely, just a tiny little tuber with an undamaged growth bud will give you a lovely new plant.

- Geraniums should be cut right back to just a few main stems when brought out of storage.

Have fun and try Overwintering other tender perennials - there's certainly nothing to lose! 

          Evelyn


   
  Leaves, leaves everywhere, ...
from "Outside My Window"
October 15th, 2008

... nature's built in method of renewing the soil.  Instead of bagging Fall leaves up and putting them out for pick up, make a large pile and run over them a few times with a lawn mower.  Just go around and around the perimeter of the pile with the mower spitting out the chopped leaves back into the center of the pile.  A huge mountain of leaves is quickly reduced to just a small and manageable mole hill after just a few passes.  Now you can use them as a winter mulch in your gardens (wait until December to spread on) or pile them somewhere to naturally break down further for use as compost next year. 

Pure gardener's gold, and the best part? ~ it's not only the best soil amendment there is, it's free!  If you think of it, it's even cheaper than free since there's no need to buy garden waste bags to dispose of them.

                                                      Cheers! Evelyn

 

   
       
       
     

 

 

 

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Over 25 years experience designing, creating, maintaining, talking about, teaching, and writing about, perennial plants and gardens!

This type of loose topiary, or bonsai-like pruning is the best thing to do with an old overgrown evergreen, instead of ripping it out.Email:   Evelyn@GardenPossibilities.com

GARDEN POSSIBILITIES  Perennial Garden Services
Evelyn Wolf, garden consultant,  905 478-7395 or cell 289-716-1408
                               your perennial garden expert

20507 Leslie St.  (NE corner of Leslie & Queensville Sdrd.  By appt. only please.). 
Queensville (East Gwillimbury), Ontario, L0G 1R0  

All photos and articles © Evelyn Wolf, 2017.