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September brings cool nights, but not much relief from daytime heat. This means the watering chores are not over. For some, drip irrigation with a timer is doing this reliably and efficiently. Those without drip irrigation will have to continue to lug that can, drag that hose or turn on the water to the soaker hoses.
Flowers – Plant some Asters, chrysanthemums, pansies and ornamental kale for long lasting color. They will also do well in containers. Divide irises and over-grown perennials now. Replant the divisions or share them with friends and neighbors.
Bulbs – This is a great time for planting spring splendor. Crocus, daffodils, iris, hyacinths, narcissus and tulips are available at the nursery in multitudes of color and variation and will bring a welcomed break from winter drabness in a few months.
Trees – Clean-up fallen fruit. Feed Potassium and mulch. Planting new shrubs and trees now will result in strong root systems.
Vegetables – Plant onions and garlic. Be prepared to cover tomatoes in case frost threatens. Clean-up unused vegetable beds and deprive pests of places to over-winter. Add compost or manure.
Autumn – Autumn is not called FALL for nothing. Leaves, often colorful at this time of year, are falling right and left creating nature’s carpet of mulch without much help from us gardeners.
However, these leaves can be made to improve our garden beds with proper attention. Shredded leaves make one of the best mulches you can ask for. Shredding avoids having the leaves pack down as they get wet thus creating an anaerobes layer which could be damaging to the plant below. Packed down leaves could smother the plants you are trying to protect. Shredding prevents this action to the benefit of the dormant plants.
When spreading mulch, such as shredded leaves, make the layer about three to six inches thick. More than six inches could create a choking layer that must be avoided.
It is not too late to apply mulch for the remaining winter. Leaves are still falling, and after a few freezes, the ground is ready for mulching. The goal with a winter mulch is to keep plants dormant without the damaging effect that thaws and freezes can have.
Anytime in winter, when leaves are available, is a good time for mulching in the Payson area. However, don’t forget to rake away the mulch in the spring when new plant growth begins.