Fall is upon us and winter can't be too far away. There are a number of garden chores that can be accomplished now and besides, the weather is warm and sunny. Who wouldn't want to be outdoors? And don't forget upcoming events featuring an information booth, a raffle and a plant auction.
It is time to review our plant's watering needs and what strategy to follow. With both nighttime and day temperatures moderating from our previously hot days, our plants don't need to be watered as frequently. This applies not only to my favorite woody perennials, but also lawns. Increase the interval between watering by about 25 percent now and even further as we move into October and November.
One watering mistake I have observed throughout the year is not watering enough where wood mulch is covering the planting bed. This is especially true when hand watering. The mulch looks real wet but in fact the soil underneath can be bone dry.
While under watering can certainly lead to many problems, over watering can too. Remember that we have clay soils and if over watering you can close down the pore space in the soil, essentially suffocating the plant's roots. Soil amendments can help this situation by increasing pore spaces.
Also, when it rains, we can often delay a scheduled watering. Last year we received 2.5 inches of rain over the next 5 weeks. But don't expect 0.1 or 0.2 inches of rain to substitute for that inch of water your garden may need.
One last watering tidbit is to not forget some winter watering of at least your trees, especially your evergreens. The most common spring evergreen browning problems we experience around here are from winter desiccation.
Now is also the time to do some cleaning up in the garden, cutting back some scraggly plants and deadheading some others. Why put all garden cleanup into the spring. Wouldn't you rather be planting new gardens instead? But also remember that some plants have interesting features that would make an otherwise drab winter garden look at least interesting.
Are you interested in talking face-to-face with a master gardener? Do you have any unanswered gardening problems? Come to AppleFest in Cedaredge on Oct. 3 or 4. This is a wonderful street fair with lots of booths and lots of activities and tasty food. The Colorado Master Gardeners are sharing a booth with the Cedaredge Tree Board and I believe we will be somewhere on Main Street. Not only will we answer your gardening questions but we are also having a raffle for some really nice garden tools that were manufactured in the good old USA.
Another upcoming event is the CSU Tri-River Area Master Gardeners' annual plant sale and tree auction, Saturday, Oct. 10. Come bid on a variety of top-quality, full-size trees and plants, donated by local greenhouses and nurseries. All proceeds support the Master Gardener Program. The plant sale, book and hypertufa pot sale and bidder registration start at 9 a.m., with the tree auction starting at 10 a.m. with Buster Cattles as the auctioneer. Coffee, beverages and food are available by donation. I hope to see you Oct. 10 at the Mesa County Fairgrounds behind the CSU Extension office. I'll be at both this event and at the AppleFest booth. See if you can challenge me with your gardening questions. I'd love to visit with you.
Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge in 2007 after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is a member of the Cedaredge Tree Board and a Colorado Master Gardener.