As I was enjoying a balmy October day, I thought back to last fall when it rained and rained and rained! I am so thankful that we have had some nice days to offset those of heavy rain and high winds.
I was away on a buying trip the first week of October so missed the big storm and flooding that the Sault experienced. I hope your home and gardens came through ok.
I do find the week leading up to Thanksgiving to be a bit melancholy as the garden centre wraps up another season. Once we close, I miss the daily interaction with customers. I never really get tired of talking about plants and gardening!
However, the cycle of buying for next season is in full swing so that does lift my spirits. We are poring through seed catalogs, books with enticing photos of flowering plant varieties and brochures advertising new tree and shrubs. It is a very exciting time as decisions are about plants we want to grow for you next year!
We analyze sales, looking at the duds and studs, reading the notes we made in May and June about spectacular plants that flew off the benches as well as those that were real underperformers. Our goal for next March is to fill our six production greenhouses with plants that will be perfect for your containers, baskets and gardens.
This is the perfect time for you to walk through your yard and make some notes too. Look for gaps in the garden that need a bit more color. Take note of trees or shrubs that will need pruning early next spring. Think about flowers that filled you with joy and those that caused you no end of frustration! Good notes will help you get organized over the winter for next spring.
Think about the herbs and vegetables you grew too. I found I used all my cilantro, Mojito mint, basil and parsley. I plan to plant a bit more of each of those next season. The rosemary I grew didn’t get used as much so I will only put in one plant in my big herb pot instead of two.
I will harvest the rest of my herbs before the first frost and get them dried for use this winter. I especially like to make a mustard glaze for chicken using garlic, rosemary, olive oil and Dijon mustard. It’s very tasty!
I also want to bring in my Bay Laurel plant. I’ll slip it out of its pot, inspect the soil for insects and repot with fresh soil if necessary. Always be on the lookout for insects on plants you bring in. You don’t want to infest your healthy houseplants!
This is also a great time to ask questions about gardening challenges you faced so you can be proactive for next season. I had a customer bring in a few poor leaves from her tall bearded iris wondering why they developed spots in early summer and continued to go downhill all season.
She was battling a common fungal disease that iris are prone to so needs to cut back all the foliage and dispose of it. Always be diligent with leaves that have disease. Don’t ever put them into the compost pile.
Unfortunately, getting rid of infected foliage won’t cure the entire problem. Disease spores will over-winter in the soil around plants, ready to re-infect the new growth next spring. Since diseases are much easier to prevent than cure, next year, once the new leaves of the iris reach about six inches in height, they should be sprayed with a copper sulphate based fungicide. Repeat the application ever 10 to 14 days to ensure leaves stay healthy.