Mornings are misty and filled with the cackle of the wild geese these dry days of early November. While the urge to get out to the garden to dig wanes this time of year, there is much we can do to keep it in shape.
Water — It has been a dry autumn so far. This means keeping the garden hose handy for a bit of watering. Newly planted shrubs, trees, roses and blueberries need to be watered about once a week until rains begin in earnest.
Protect soil — Fallow areas of the garden, especially the vegetable plots, should be nurtured with a cover crop. Also called green manure crop, vetch, fava bean, field pea and rye cover and protect the soil. These crops also add valuable organic matter, and in the case of field pea, vetch and fava, add valuable nitrogen.
Clean up — Now is a good time to make sure the soil around roses is free of spent flowers and fallen leaves. A bit of compost and mulch along with extra watering is good, too. Perennial beds that are going dormant should be groomed up and mulched, also.
Leave the leaves: By now leaves of deciduous trees are covering beds and lawn areas. The best thing to do with them is to shred with the lawn mower and then scatter back onto beds, or leave on the lawn. Shredded leaves are also an excellent material to add to the compost pile. The easiest thing is to rake or blow them back onto beds or under shrubs and trees. Here they will mat down and slowly decompose. During the process of slow decomposition all kinds of beneficial bacteria, fungi, insects and bugs will call this their home. Winter birds love scratching about these areas in search for food.
Plant — Although it does not feel like planting weather, now is a good time to plant spring flowering bulbs, garlic and cool season salad greens.
Terry Kramer is the site manager for the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.