To Everything There is a Season

Robert McKenna, KarmaKare Landscaping

2016 weather provided for a strenuous workload outside. Warmer than average temperatures were consistent throughout the year and we have had well below average precipitation. All in all, it was not an optimal year for working in your garden. Hopefully the elements will change in our favor and we will be able to complete some tasks which have been digging on our minds.
Thalassa Cruso once said, “Fall is not the end of the gardening year; it is the start of next year’s growing season”. Properly tending to your gardens in the fall will increase happier, healthier, flourishing plants in the spring. A little extra work in the fall will decrease your workload during the busy spring season. Below are a couple tips to complete this fall for an easier job in the spring.

Test your soils:
Have you been curious what has been going on with your soil? Are you puzzled with problems which reoccur? Right now is a great time to get down to the root of the problem and test the soil. The local Tennessee Extension of Agriculture is not as flooded with soil tests as they are in the spring and can provide test results quicker this time of year. It is also an excellent time to gather a good sample to be tested.
Fall Clean Ups:
Start by removing any dead and diseased wood and discarding it properly. Rake and discard any diseased leaves, as keeping them piled up over the winter is just building a warm nest for unwanted insects and diseases. Do not add these leaves to your compost pile, as your pile may not heat up enough to kill the diseased pathogens. Remember adding clean debris is very beneficial to your compost pile.

When finished with all necessary pruning, mulching your landscape beds is very important. At this time, the mulch you added in the spring has probably decomposed in the summer heat. Adding a thick layer is beneficial as it adds organic matter to the soil, stabilizes the soil temperatures from extreme freezing and thawing temperature changes. Mulch adds a great winter blanket to your gardens and is aesthetically pleasing. Finish by spraying your landscapes with a dormant oil to prevent any unwanted pests.

Tend to your tools:
Have you been playing hide and seek with your tools? As the workload of your gardens has decreased it is a good time to gather them, clean and sharpen them to store them. Sharpen your pruners and clean them to eliminate lingering disease. This will prevent introducing and passing the disease from one plant to another. This is a good time to scrub the shovels, pitch forks, spades, and other tools for the longevity of your tools. If you are reusing any pots for the spring, it is a great idea to soak and scrub your pots in a bleach and water mixture to kill and disease organisms and salts lingering on the surface.
Seasonal Plantings:
It is the best time of year to transplant that shrub you have been scratching your head over and been wanting to move. The temperatures are optimal to aerate and overseed your yard to replenish the turf die back from the strenuous heat. It is time to change your summer flowers over to Pansies, mums, and ornamental cabbages. Pansies will give you a winter color until its time to change over next year. Lastly, plant a tree. There is no better time to put that tree you always wanted in the ground. Soil temperatures, moisture content is the best time of year to plant. Take a load off your watering next year and plant it now. Most important, have fun and enjoy your gardens. It is easy to keep a plant alive, it takes extra love to make it thrive.