Written for the Davis Enterprise, September 22, 2005
September 22 marks the first day of autumn!
gardeners in colder climates are oiling their tools, wrapping their hedges, and
burying their roses (weird, huh?), Northern Californians are blessed with a
whole second gardening season. There are flowers and vegetables to plant,
trimming and cleanup to do opportunities abound during the weeks from late
September through mid - November. These are all simple things you can do to
make your garden prettier this winter and next spring.
have had a long, hot summer and would perk up quickly if given some food. So
would your roses, flowers, and young trees. Fruit trees will take up fertilizer and store it for use in
early spring. Perennials will start the new growth that expands next year. Any
all-purpose fertilizer will be fine at this time of year.
weather is mild, watering isn't such a chore, and many plants are primed to
sprout now. Whether in pots or in the ground, annual and perennial flower seeds
are readily planted in October.
seeds are also primed to sprout now. There are various products, both synthetic
and organic, which will kill them as they germinate. Or install landscape
fabric and bark mulch now to smother young seedlings. A little prevention now
can save a lot of labor next spring.
water use has dropped to about half of the summer rate. But we're unlikely to
see significant rain until late October--some years not until November. Rather
than reduce how long your sprinklers run, water half as often.
larger trees and family orchards one more deep soaking. When the north wind blows--a gusty, dry
north wind is a reliable October tradition here--you'll need to hand water
smaller plants or run your sprinklers manually once through their cycle.
vegetables, flowers, shrubs, lawns!
great time of year for planting pretty much everything. Divide perennial
plants, plant spring-flowering bulbs, replace tired summer annuals. Pansies,
violas, snapdragons, calendula--all will bloom all winter and spring if planted
out the thatch in your lawn and spread some seed. If there are shrubs you've
wanted to move, this is an ideal time to do it.
native shrubs and trees--fussy about overwatering when planted in hot
weather--are available at regional sales and garden centers now. The crown
attacking diseases prevalent during hot weather aren't active once the nights
drop into the 40's and low 50's. Mark your calendar for the UC Davis Arboretum sale on October 1! Check
their web site at http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/ for more information and a
catalog of plants for sale.
about where you could use some shade, some fall color, or some spring flowers.
Trees planted now will make root growth for several weeks before cold weather
and get off to a great start in spring--especially if you take some time to
here is a step by step guide to tree planting:
try to dig a hole in soil that is too wet or too dry. A shovel should penetrate
readily, and the soil should crumble (or at least break up into smaller clods
dry soil thoroughly 2 - 3 days before planting, and allow wet soil to dry out
for 2 - 3 days (if it is staying too wet to plant we should talk about your
watering or drainage problems before you plant).
a hole about twice as wide and the same depth as the container. So, for a #5
container you dig a hole 24" wide and 12" deep. For a #15 container
you dig a hole 3' wide and 16" deep.
up and crumble the soil as you remove it from the hole. Set it aside: you'll
need it to put back in around the tree roots.
the soil in the bottom of the hole.
2 - 3 handfuls (1/4 - 1/2 cup) of a "starter fertilizer." Mix this
and any special fertilizers into the loose soil in the hole.
the tree from the pot. Tug and spread out any circling roots. Run your hands up
and down on the root ball to loosen the roots. Don't worry! You won't hurt the tree.
Circling roots can actually strangle the tree as it grows.
the tree in the hole and make sure it is about an inch above the soil grade.
Add some of the backfill if necessary to make sure the tree isn't planted too
deep. A helper can hold the tree
the loose backfill dirt into the hole and firm it down with your hands, making
sure the tree is straight upright. Gently press the soil with your foot so it
the excess dirt in towards the tree in a circle all around it to make a water
thoroughly, making sure the soil settles all around. If the tree sinks, gently
tug it up until it is back above grade.
the tight nursery stake. If necessary, install two lodgepole stakes by pounding
them into the soil 6 - 12" away from the trunk on the east and west sides
of the tree. Tie the tree to the stakes with a figure-8 tie at a point which
supports the top. Tie it tight enough that it is held upright, but loose enough
that the tree still moves in the wind.
trees should have their trunks painted with an interior white latex paint, up
to the first branches.
in lawns need to have the grass kept clear from a circle at least 3'
diameter around the tree. 4' is
that prefer a low pH or use lots of iron, such as Japanese maples and citrus,
should have some soil sulfur added to the planting hole.
check the tree daily for water in hot weather. For the first 2 - 3 weeks the
roots are still just in the nursery soil. Water that soil every 2 - 3 days,
making sure you water long enough to moisten the surrounding soil so the roots
will grow out. This takes several minutes with a hose, or an hour or so with a
drip system (make sure the emitters are directly on the nursery soil). An
automatic watering system with spray heads probably won't water deeply enough
to wet the whole root ball! You need to water by hand.
about 3 weeks you can water longer and cut back to twice a week. After 5 - 6
weeks you can water even longer, about every 5 - 7 days. By spring a good
soaking once a week should be sufficient.
the ties every couple of months to make sure the tree is loose enough to move
gently in the wind. The stakes can usually be removed in 6 - 12 months.
' Autumn – the year's last,
loveliest smile.' William Cullen
© 2008 Don Shor, Redwood Barn Nursery, Inc., 1607 Fifth Street, Davis, Ca 95616
Feel free to copy and distribute this article with attribution to this author.
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