Mid-Atlantic

October, 2008
Regional Report

Yes... Water, Water, Water

Keep the hose out and water barrels full. Water, water, water perennials, shrubs, and trees -- especially this season's transplants that are still getting established. Summer's over BUT autumn weather is milder longer. Plants need water to stay healthy, produce and store food, AND prepare for winter dormancy. Perennials, shrubs and trees are alive year-round, even when leaves and stems turn brown come a hard frost.

Think Electric for New Equipment

If you're replacing an old lawn mower, trimmer, blower, or pruner, consider buying an electric model. Technology is always improving -- more safe, economical, easy to use. Gas-powered lawn mowers are notorious polluters. Electric mowers and tools aren't carbon neutral BUT their footprint is significantly smaller. Plus you won't have the maintenance of a combustion engine.

Keep Weeding

Plant growth slows in autumn. It does not stop. In our mild weather, I'm seeing weeds sprout and take root fast. Biennial mustard plants with scalloped leaves are reemerging. Autumn clematis pulled last month is resprouting. Take a trowel, hoe, or shovel to them now -- before they return even more robust in spring.

Who, What, When, Where?

While the gardening season is fresh in mind, think about what you'd like next year. Want less watering and weeding? More heritage veggies, organic roses, wildlife magnets? Are deer or squirrels defeating your best efforts? How about more help from family members or expanding or shrinking gardening space? List priorities, goals, ideas. Discuss thoughts with family, gardening friends, willing ears. Brain-storm now; process and dream through winter.

Work on Big Projects in Small Doses

It's easy to look outside, see an overgrown area, and sigh in defeat. Or spend six exhausting hours digging out multiflora rose, autumn olive, brambles -- then avoid that area indefinitely because your back aches just thinking about it. Faced with an overwhelming project, I target a small, highly visible area to tackle first -- front bed at entrance or along a path, corner with a cloud-canopy Japanese maple or maple-sugar scented Katsura. I set a goal to clear only that spot or work for two or three hours. Then stop. We return soon to set and accomplish the next reasonable, new goal. Be sure to admire your work well-done.

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