Fall garden chores and delights

By on October 31, 2016

I hope you continue to enjoy time in your yard and garden as the temps cool down and the rain makes it easier to accomplish late season chores such as weeding, removing spent annuals and planting.

As much as I love growing things, I’m very glad we live in a place where agriculture is a major part of the local economy and farm markets abound. There is usually some crop that either fails or doesn’t do as well as hoped and it’s fun to visit our local growers at their markets to purchase the fruits and vegetables they grow.

The local apple crop is one of the great delights of autumn in Western New York. Brightly’s Farm Market has many varieties from which to choose. K. Gabalski photo

The local apple crop is one of the great delights of autumn in Western New York. Brightly’s Farm Market has many varieties from which to choose. K. Gabalski photo

Brightly’s Farm Market in Hamlin is one such place. The Brightly’s have been farming and growing for generations. Recently, Betsy Brightly passed along some helpful advice for gardeners as the autumn season heads closer and closer to winter.

She advises to keep planting trees and shrubs until the ground freezes. Betsy says many people see spring as the time to get out and plant, but, “now is just as good,” she explains.  Fall planting can actually be beneficial in helping to get new trees and shrubs established.

This past growing season turned very hot and very dry very quickly which meant new shrub and tree plantings last spring needed lots of supplemental watering. According to Betsy, autumn rains and cooler temperatures are better for newly planted material. “Watering is not the same as rainfall,” she notes, “rainfall really helps to get the roots established.”

If you have purchased hardy fall mums and want to encourage them to take root, plant them as soon as you can, too. “Get them in the ground right away to get roots established,” Betsy says. Her family’s farm  market – Brightly’s – at the corner of Route 18 and Drake Road (525 Drake Road), still has hardy mums available, and Betsy assures that their mums are truly hardy.

If you are looking for locally grown produce, Brightly’s has an impressive selection of vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, all kinds of winter squash, cabbage and much more, including Brussels sprouts which become, “even sweeter after a frost,” Betsy says.

Hardy fall mums at Brightly’s Farm Market in Hamlin make a colorful, quilt-like display. K. Gabalski photo

Hardy fall mums at Brightly’s Farm Market in Hamlin make a colorful, quilt-like display. K. Gabalski photo

Brightly’s also has a large selection of apples to choose from and Betsy recommends ordering Thanksgiving pies well in advance. Brightly’s makes their pumpkin pies from pumpkins they grow themselves, she adds.

Remember that in addition to planting, now is a great time to add organic matter into the soil as you clear and clean out your annual and perennial gardens. Compost and even raw organic matter like shredded leaves can be added now.  Material will begin to break down over the winter months and enrich the soil for next year.

Betsy also recommends mulching perennial beds before the snow flies. The mulch acts as a blanket for perennials and helps  prevent heaving of plants which can occur when the ground freezes and thaws. It’s good to hold off on fertilizing most plants in the fall, but there are some notable exceptions, Betsy explains. “Some things are fertilized in the fall,” she says. “Like strawberries. We fertilize them before we cover them with straw.”

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