It may be hot now, but fall is closer than you think! That makes me very happy! Fall is the best time to begin a garden. Below is a check list that I use during this time of year. Most of the annuals are shrinking from the heat and its time to begin to think about the change coming. Even vegetable gardening is very rewarding in the fall- more about that is coming soon!
Fall Prep List
Clean out spent summer annuals
Remove and dead or diseased wood from trees & shrubs
Prune Roses and remove any dead or diseased wood
Sow cover crops on bare soil or beds
Mulch where needed- not on your seed beds
Top dress established beds with soil amendments such as green sand, rock phosphate, Epsom salt, lime
For clay soils- prep new beds by tilling in compost and expanded shale
Plant fall color- dianthus, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, etc
One of the fun things about living in an actual neighborhood is the ability to walk all over. I can walk to the park, restaurants, the grocery store, Strand shopping and to the beach.
I. LOVE. IT
I can also walk to church. Along the way, I see all types of architecture in the homes. Many of the homes in the historic district in which I live were built before 1900. These homes survived one of the most massive hurricanes in history. How I would love it those walls could talk! There is great beauty all around us, its a different kind of beauty from the farm life we lived just a short time ago, but it is beautiful.
Here are a few of the sights I see on my Sunday stroll.
All sorts of jasmine thrive on the island, the smell is intoxicating.
There’s a fungus among us and I don’t mean mushrooms.
If you have attempted to grow any sort of vegetation for any amount of time, you have probably dealt with an unfriendly fungus. While a great many varieties of fungus are essential to plant life and a great many others are neither good or bad, there are a few bad varieties and they really cause problems.
Before moving to the island, the only real battle I had with fungus was black-spot on the roses and powdery mildew on my veggies. But, one summer in a tropical setting and I have had a crash course in fungus!
As I will chat about later, watering the soil is very important. One day, only one day, I got lazy and got out the hose and sprayed everything down instead of using the watering can. JUST ONE DAY! And, I even did it in the morning. BUT, in 72 hours, my Belinda’s dream roses were covered in black spot. Lesson Learned- water the soil NOT the plant.
Fungi live in the soil, on our skin, in our house, basically any and everywhere. The problems arise when conditions are just right, and the fungi populations begin to multiply at breakneck speeds. When this happens, the host of the fungi population will be destroyed- this means your vinca will wilt and turn to goop, or your zucchini will disappear under gray fuzz or your rose bush will turn brown and yellow before becoming naked stems. Or, all of the above if its are really bad day.
In the garden, this hyper-growth of fungi will lead to plant death or really fabulous compost. The problem is when the garden beds are turned to compost piles because the fungus took over where it did not belong.
So, instead of focusing on how to kill the fungus, we should focus on how to prevent the colonies from getting out of hand. The environment is what determines if the fungus will thrive or simply exist and not cause problems. As gardeners, there are several things we can do to set out gardens up for the best possible outcomes.
Soil heath is essential for any aspect of plant life. A plant cannot thrive without healthy soil. Soil health will also determine the health of a plant’s immune system. Very few of us have perfect soil and even if you do, if you constantly take from the soil and never put back, you won’t have healthy soil for long. By amending the soil, you can put back into the soil.
Essential amendments are organic compost, green sand, lava sand, and rock phosphate. For a deeper look at fixing you soil, click here!
Choosing the right plant for an area is essential to success as a gardener. A plant that loves the sun will not survive a shady spot and a shade loving plant will die in the full sun. This seems like it shouldn’t need to be said, but I deal with folks everyday who just can’t accept the fact that a rose bush won’t bloom in a backyard that gets only 3 hours of sun per day. Plants have DNA and we can’t simply rewire them just because we want it that way.
Also, if there is a disease resistant variety- choose that variety. There are a lot of hybrids out there and some are bred to be resistant to fungal diseases. If those are available to you, then choose that plant.
If a plant is in a poor location or in poor soil it will be stressed. If a plant is stressed it will be compromised. A compromised plant will not have an immune system that can fight off disease.
More damage is done by overwatering than by underwatering. Fungus thrives in warm, wet conditions.
If you are keeping the soil soaked you are laying out a welcome mat for fungus.
If you water at night, you are laying out a welcome mat for fungus.
If you are spraying your foliage instead of watering the soil, you are laying out a welcome mat for fungus.
Do you see a pattern?
Fungi LOVE moisture.
So, water in the early morning so that what water does get on the leaves and foliage can dry. One inch of water once a week is sufficient water, except in times of high heat and drought, then water twice per week. If at all possible, water the soil, not the foliage.
One thing that a human cannot control is the weather. If you live in an area that is high humidity and warm, fungus is something with which you will battle. Galveston Island is my home and this year has been crazy with the fungal shenanigans.
Organic controls of fungus are fairly limited, but what is available is effective. Sulfur and copper are excellent fungicides but they can only be applied with the temperature is below 85′. Bicarbonates can be used at anytime. In an effort to be proactive, I spray a bicarbonate weekly, before signs and symptoms appear. For an indepth look at fungicides, read this article.
Don’t let challenges keep you from gardening- educate yourself and keep planting.
When I moved to Galveston, I was determined to make the most of every spare minute and spend those spare minutes on the beach. I have been successful this far.
From my home, the beach is just under a mile from my doorstep. So, if I have a morning that allows me a walk before work- I go. If I have a lazy afternoon that allows for a walk- I go. If I need a walk to clear my head- I go.
Not only am I rewarded with sand between my toes and at the roar of the sea in my ears, my eyes feast on so many beautiful blooms along the way.
Here are some from my last walk:
Morning glories! These wild little devils can give gardeners fits! They come up volunteer and drop about a million seeds and strangle any civilized plant in the reach of their little tendrils. BUT they are so beautiful! I love them!
Crinum Lilies come in ALL shapes and sizes in Galveston, they are a living part of history in the town. With different blooming times, there are always beauties to admire.
Pride of Barbados, also called the Mexican Bird of Paradise. This large shrub/ornamental tree is a tropical beauty. I had never seen these before and I thought they were Mimosa trees before the blooms appeared. These pictures don’t really do them justice, I will have to try again!