As you take apart your garden this fall, do yourself and your garden a favor, and plant a green manure cover crop. It will do wonderful things for your soil, from friability to fertility.
Experts advise using a combination of cover crops, including legumes that fix atmospheric nitrogen to the root zone, and grains that establish thick root masses in the soil. When those masses decay, your soil is left lighter and more workable, richer in nitrogen, the main plant building block.
If your soil is stiff clay thats hard to penetrate, add some forage radish seeds or daikon seeds to your cover crop. When those large roots decay, it breaks up the soil, adding organic matter that holds moisture and nutrients for other plants to use.
I recently attended an interesting online seminar about cover crops on organic farms; the information is also useful in gardens. The general idea is to crimp and roll crops in spring on farms. Gardeners can cut, mow and/or till in parts of the cover crop that are still green in spring. If you use short-lived crops, theyll be dead by planting.
You could remove them, but if you just flatten your cover crop, you can plant through that cover, parting it just enough for your new seeds or seedlings to get sunlight.
Youll have ready-made mulch to hold moisture which enriches your soil as it decays.
Tilling in this mulch is also an option, but remember, until it completely decays it uses nitrogen from the soil (making it not available to your plants), and tilling brings weed seeds to light where they will germinate.
Were often told we cant buy time, but actually we can, and this time of year its discounted. What Im talking about is buying nursery stock that has matured to blooming status, or is close to fruiting.
If you start plants from seed, many plants take years to reach the point where the plant will bloom and fruit. Now you can buy plants that someone else has put their time into. Some nurseries also have potted last springs bare root fruit trees, so you can buy them in pots now that are that much closer to bearing fruit, often discounted in price.
Standard apples, for instance, may take nearly ten years to bear fruit, semi-dwarf and dwarf two to three years after transplant. Many other fruits take at least two years of growth before fruiting.
Nurseries and garden centers have sales on ornamental and fruiting stock that started Aug. 30 or will start the day after Labor Day. This is a great time of year to fill in those holes with low maintenance shrubbery or perennials, as well as trees.
Many trees in the valley now have leaves turning color, losing the green and revealing the reds and yellows that have always been in the leaves, and some even have leaves dropping. We usually dont have leaf color change until at least September, usually October, and they drop in November.
Leaves lose their chlorophyll, the green, in response to lower daylight hours, revealing the other colors in their leaves. Since they are responding as if daylight hours were fewer than they are, I suspect leaves are responding to smoky air interfering with available sunlight.
The Idaho Horticulture Society will hold its Sixth annual standard flower show, Fall Floral Fantasy, at the 36th Street Garden Center Sept. 8 and 9. The show opens at noon Saturday, Sept. 8, and at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 9. Shows close at 5 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday.
The 36th Street Garden Center, co-presenter of the show, is at the corner of Hill Road and 36th St. The show will be judged by the National Garden Club standards and the Valley Judges Council. Entries will be received Saturday, Sept. 8, between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m.
If you have questions, contact show chairman, Sandra Ford at 853-6575 or email@example.com.
Send garden questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Gardening, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.