Nystrom's Nursery
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Fall tips and suggestions

By Neil Peterson

Last Updated Oct 1, 2009 3:33:46 PM

As usual in the Midwest, summer passes us by before we know it. This year seemed to go quicker than normal thanks to the cool, damp season we experienced. Summer brought out problems and qualities with plants we seldom see. Diseases, unusual growth patterns, and insect issues were among the negative dealings. Tomatoes were generally lousy this year, everything (nearly) contracted powdery mildew, and the cool temperatures prolonged the stay of the Japanese Beetle.

   On the other hand, the moisture and temperatures were very conducive to the growth of our trees, shrubs, perennials, and lawns. The luxury amount of rainfall coupled with temps that allowed that moisture to remain in the soil provided the ideal conditions for growth (think the Pacific Northwest). This year will benefit us in 2010 as well-the added growth will induce heavier flowering on trees and shrubs in the spring. The cool temps and dryness in September should also make for a stellar display of fall color this year. 

   Fall is perhaps the best season in the garden. Everything is shutting down in a condensed period of time, offering a huge burst of color with superb conditions to be outside. Do some gardening-this is the best season to do your planting of deciduous trees and shrubs. Roots continue to grow until soil temps drop beneath 50 degrees. That means that even after the leaves are off, there can be a month of root growth. When you plant in spring, a tree only has May to establish before the heat of summer, thus fall planting gives the plant a big leg up.

   Don\'t shy away from perennials either. Many perennial plants offer fall color and more importantly winter interest. Asters punch through the reds and oranges with bright purples and blues, giving superb contrast to fall foliage. Though nicer yet, is their sturdy flat-topped stems which collect frost and snow. Ornamental grasses give vertical accent and also collect precipitation. Purple Coneflowers hold up nicely until March and attract birds.

  Anything planted now should be accompanied by a good layer of mulch. 2" should suffice, and leave at least 2" from the crown or base of the plant. Mulching up too high can cause rotting. The idea is to allow soil to freeze in the fall and stay frozen until spring; this averts "frost heaving". A great mulch to try is leaves. Leave them in the flower bed until St. Patrick\'s Day then make some compost. Composted leaves make one of the best soil additives-rich nutrients and they\'re free. I use the mower to shred them up before putting into the beds, it also expedites the composting process.

     Lastly, Don\'t Forget Bulbs! Now is the time to plant Tulips, Daffodils, and Hyacinths. Always use large groups for the best display. Plant in clusters of 5,7, or 9 scattered together over an area for a natural look that will really dazzle. If you've never used bulbs before, give us a call, we can help.