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Diggin' It

Fun - and a few chores - in the fall garden

Enjoying the gardening days before the first frost.

By / October 6, 2008



I'm getting into the swing of autumn. One of the advantages of being in New England in fall is the gorgeous foliage -- which I've already oohed and aahed over in New Hampshire.

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But fall also means putting the garden to bed -- and sometimes that's just as enjoyable -- although necessary -- a chore as trying to get a wide-awake 5-year-old to lie down and go to sleep.

But there are joys in the fall garden -- roses recover from the heat and produce their best blooms in months, mums cheer up drizzly overcast days, and you don't sweat so much as you pull weeds and move plants around.

Didn't get around to planting a vegetable garden this year, but know you want to next year? Fall's the perfect time to prepare, say Ellen Nibali and Jon Traunfeld in The Baltimore Sun.

If you already have a vegetable garden, but cooler temperatures cause you to want to get out and work in the garden while you can, The Times of London has 10 Top Tips for the Perfect Autumn Garden. It suggests activities from protecting your pond to encouraging wildlife.

If you'd like to keep those birds at the feeder in your yard other seasons of the year, Lorna Bonham has recommendations for creating a bird-friendly garden.

For those who are tired of the way the yard looks -- or have moved to a new home -- how about creating an almost-instant October garden? (Oh, to be in California!)

Looking for a funky touch for the side yard? Follow the example of a Memphis woman who couldn't get grass to grow in her shady yard and so planted flowers in old shoes -- sneakers, pumps, children's shoes, boots, and giant flip-flops.

She used artificial flowers but many kinds of boots and shoes work well when filled with soil and used as offbeat planters for real flowers. I especially like wellies.

Fall is, of course, when gardeners' thoughts turn to spring-flowering bulbs. Brian Minter in British Columbia has some ideas that may not have occurred to you about bulbs and companion plants.

Then there's the bad news about fall -- for most of us, it's when frost pretty much ends the gardening season until next spring.

I liked Bonnie Orr's tips on figuring out if frost is really likely on a particular night. She says that in her area, she can usually count on a visit from Jack Frost if the air temperature at sunset is 50 degrees F. or lower, the sky is clear, and there's no wind.

What do do with all those tropical plants once Old Man Winter arrives? Denise Ellsworth of Ohio State University has excellent advice on how to overwinter them.

Carol Michel, the Indianapolis Gardening Examiner, reminds us to think about the pace and rhythm of fall gardening chores  and not to get so caught up in all that needs to be done that we don't relax and enjoy the fall season.

I couldn't agree more.

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