Clean Up Tools and Equipment
Proper clean-up of garden tools and equipment this fall will leave them in top shape and ready to use when spring arrives. Clean, oil, and mend all hand tools, sharpening blades and removing any rust. Purchase new ones if needed. For power tools, clean off all plant material and dirt. Replace worn spark plugs, oil all necessary parts, sharpen blades, run the equipment until the gas tank is empty. Store all tools in their proper place indoors, never outdoors.
Eat Fall Food
Enjoy the vegetables of fall, such as kale, collards, cabbage, turnips and their greens, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. With the greens, light frosts enhance their flavors. Cook them quickly and simply in a bit of water or vegetable broth, adding garlic, hot pepper, and a bit of oil. Don't ruin the nutritional benefits of winter squash and sweet potatoes with unhealthy additions. One of the best ways to cook them is to cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces, toss with olive oil and herbs, then roast in a 400-degree F. oven until tender, turning occasionally.
Inspect houseplant leaves for sign of dry, brown edges, which indicates too little relative humidity in the house. Increase the humidity by running a humidifier, grouping plants closer together, or setting the plants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Also check plants for insects, especially scale, mealybug, and spider mites. Use an organic houseplant pest control spray, following the manufacturer's directions. If some plants seem to be drying out faster than others, consider replanting them.
Start Paperwhite Narcissus
Add flowering bulbs to your home during the upcoming holidays. The easiest and fastest to grow and bloom are paperwhite narcissus. The dormant bulbs are readily available now at garden centers and other outlets. When choosing paperwhite narcissus, remember that Ziva has a strong, musky scent; Inbal is shorter, not as floppy and blooms 2 to 3 weeks after planting. Ziva as well two yellow-flowered forms, Israel and Nazareth, take 3 to 4 weeks to bloom. Nestle the bulbs in pebbles in a glass vase and keep water just touching the base of the bulbs.
Have An Apple Taste Test
Fall means the time for crisp, juicy, locally grown apples. Visit a farmer's market and check out the different varieties available for eating and cooking. Remember that the variety that's good for one purpose may not be the best for another. To do a taste test, get different apples from the farmer's market and the grocery. Put slices of each variety on a separate paper plate, writing the name on the underside. On the top side, number each sample. Provide score sheets and encourage comments, such as crisp, sweet, soft, juicy.