Fall is a perfect time to garden. There’s so much that can be done to get a jump on next spring. Here in my Minnesota zone 4 gardens, it’s getting down to the nitty-gritty of getting all the fall gardening tasks done. In case you missed them, or need a refresher, here are some of my previous posts on fall gardening:
Fall gardening is also the perfect time to practice frugality. Gardening can be an expensive hobby, just ask me. But, it’s entirely possible to garden on the cheap with a little bit of work and creativity.
Fall Gardening – Saving Seeds
Here are the seeds I will be gathering from my gardens: hollyhock, foxglove, balloon flower, coneflower, coreopsis, shasta daisy, snapdragons and marigolds.
Basically wait until the seed pods of the plant are really dried out. Once the seed pods are dried out, I take an envelope and shake the seeds into it. Then, very important, make sure to write the name of the plant on the envelope. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had great intentions and did everything right only to forget to mark the envelope. Store your envelopes in a dry place. I usually put a few of those silica packets, that come in pill bottles and tons of other things, in my box of seeds to help with moisture control. If you want more detailed instructions or ideas, check out my Seed Gathering board on Pinterest. Stay tuned and later in the winter and early spring, we’ll talk about winter sowing seeds and seed starting. It really is fun to propagate new plants from seeds you’ve saved from your garden.
Fall Gardening – Overwintering Tender Bulbs and Tubers
My lucky friends in the south don’t have to do this, but here in my Zone 4 garden it’s a must if I don’t want to buy new bulbs next spring. I’m going to overwinter these bulbs: gladiola, caladium, begonia and dahlia (tubers). Calla lilies and canna lilies are also tender bulbs in zone 4, but I didn’t have those in my gardens this year. Again, I’m going to keep it simple. I like to do this before we get a frost just to make sure I get it done. I simply dig up the plant and shake the dirt off. If they are moist at all, I let them dry in the sun a few days. After they’ve dried a bit and I’ve rubbed as much dirt off as possible, I cut the foliage down leaving a couple of inches on the top of the bulb. And, finally I store the bulbs in a cardboard box (shoe boxes work great) filled with sawdust. If you don’t have sawdust, peat moss or shredded paper work too. I also toss several silica packs in the box to help control moisture. Again, make sure you mark your boxes with the name of the bulb. Store your bulbs some place that stays above freezing. The most important thing in bulb storage is to keep them dry. If they are moist at all, they will rot. Are you going to try overwintering bulbs this year?
Fall Gardening – Overwintering Zonal Geraniums
I’ve had very good success overwintering zonal geraniums. I usually pay anywhere from $3-$4 for one zonal geranium, and I bought a bunch this year. There are a number of different ways you can overwinter zonal geraniums, but I try to keep it really simple and this is the method that’s worked for me. I simply pull the geraniums (before we get a frost), shake as much dirt off the roots as I can and lay them out on a newspaper in the sun to dry a bit. After they’ve dried, I simply gather up a bunch and put them in a plastic grocery bag (roots in the bag) and hang the bag in my basement. Somewhere around the middle of March, I will pot up the plants in a good potting mix. I then cut back all the dead foliage and give them a good drink of water with a little fertilizer. Then I will put them in a sunny spot or under some grow lights and wait. It’s very gratifying to see those first little bits of green popping out. Give it a try this year and see if it works for you.
Here are some great tools to make your fall gardening tasks go much smoother:
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Happy gardening, a little while longer…
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Have you purchased your spring bulbs yet? Read my post on planting bulbs for amazing spring flowers.
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