Fall Clean-up Time!

Jolene Post, Town Horticulturalist, stands in front of some flowers at Town Office
Jolene Post, Town Horticulturalist, stands in front of some flowers at Town Office

Fall Clean-up Time!

Well it’s that time of year again; the combines are in the fields and the leaves are beginning to show their fall colors.  We’ve heard that the September long weekend even brought a dusting of snow to higher elevations in Alberta. As soon as the leaves start to change, it’s time to start your garden clean-ups. Jolene Post, Horticulturist for the town of Strathmore, has provided some great tips for getting our yards ready for winter.
 

Jolene says:
This is the optimum time to collect seeds from any of your annuals, perennials and even some of your garden veggies and herbs. It’s a fun spring project to start seeds, and with lots of parents and children starting homeschooling, this is a great way to teach them about botany! The best kind of seeds are ones you don’t have to pay for!
 
Marigold, Nasturtium, Allium, Rudbeckia, Siberian Iris, and Daylillies are all great ones to collect and save for next season. Remember to leave some seeds behind like Echinacea for example as this is food for the birds too! Lettuce, Kale, cilantro, basil have beautiful flowers, so they are worth letting some go to seed. Bulbs like alliums, tulips, hyacinth, daffodils should go in the ground now too! If you are planting tulips, make sure to plant them deep so our cold frost doesn’t hurt them. If you want to do any last-minute planting of perennials or trees on your property, this is the best time for that.
 
This is also the best time to add compost to your garden beds for next years plants. It is also the perfect time to check your houseplants for pests before moving them indoors as our temperatures are dropping significantly at night. Goodbye summer! Remember to clean out bird feeders and water features. Covering them with netting or a sheet will make leaf clean-up a breeze.
 
MULCH! If you can’t do anything else this fall, at least try to do this! Mulch not only protects the sensitive root zones from all the frost we have coming our way, but it also provides nutrients and holds some moisture which the plants will need come spring thaw. It improves soil structure, keeps soil temperatures from going too low (and too high in summer), and reduces competition from other plants!  It provides an instant tidy appearance too which is nice once things start looking tired.
 
There are two types of mulch: organic and inorganic. Inorganic products would include rock like shale, rundle, river rocks, and recycled rubber materials. They reduce soil temperature and reduce evaporation of the soil, but don’t provide nearly the same environmental benefits that organic mulch would.
 
It is always best practice to place mulch in depths of 1-2 inches in your garden. It is ideal to apply ½ inch of compost first, and then ½ to 1 inches of mulch. For trees, apply 2-4 inches of mulch around the root zone, but keep it 2-3 inches away from the trunk of your tree!
 
Organic mulch also has a natural way of reducing weeds. Instead of putting down a weed barrier or landscape fabric, the best method is actually cardboard!! Corrugated cardboard is best, as it allows a bit of airflow, and will allow the beneficial organisms to pass through as the mulch breaks down and turns into soil. You won’t have to worry about pulling it out and re-doing it either in the future.
 
Last but not least, do one final check in your beds for weeds before they go to seed! This will reduce their numbers next year! 

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