TheGarden Path

Published on Thu, Oct 14, 2004 by oreen Trudel

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The Garden Path

By Doreen Trudel

We are well into fall now but it is an important time in the garden. Our wet discomfort now will be greatly rewarded next year so put on those wellies and button-up that slicker and go get dirty.

Many insects including flying insects actually walk up the trunk of a tree in fall to lay their eggs. October is a good time to apply a sticky band around the trunk of the tree as a barrier or trap for those egg laying insects. There might be other brands of sticky goop but the most common name is Tanglefoot. It is very sticky and difficult to wash off so wear a pair of disposable gloves while applying the bands and never apply a sticky product directly to the trunk of the tree.

Follow these guidelines and the procedure will be fast and easy and well worth the effort. You do not want the insects to crawl under the sticky bands so first apply a single layer of thin batting or some soft material that will fill in the grooves in the bark. Next wrap a band of wide tape such as packing tape or duct tape on top of this batting. If you wrap it tightly it will stay on the trunk without actually taping it to the bark.
The final step is to apply a thin layer of Tanglefoot over the tape. It does not take much to trap an insect so you do not need a thick layer just an even layer all the way around the trunk. This sticky goop will trap all insects so in early spring you want to remove these bands before the lady bugs and other beneficial insects hatch and start moving around. This method really works and will keep those hungry hatching caterpillars from eating new leaves in spring.

Although theoretically you can plant potted berry bushes in fall most experts say it is best to plant bare-root berry stock in late winter or very early spring. However, now is a good time to prepare the soil for planting next year.

Generally, berry bushes do not like to be moved so choose your site with that in mind remembering that berries need at least five hours of sun each day and free draining soil.

Next clear the area of weeds. You will be eating those berries so it is best to dig or pull them out rather than use herbicides. Finally, dig in organic material such as compost. It also helps to put grass clippings or fallen leaves on this patch as all winter the material will be decomposing, improving the soil.

Remember those voluptuous Peonies that perfumed that afternoon last May? They too can be planted in fall. It takes a while for Peonies to establish themselves so you may not see blooms next spring but you will see a bigger, healthier plant if you get them in the ground now.

Although the flowers are short-lived, the foliage provides a lush background in a perennial bed and if you select varieties with different bloom times you will be rewarded with a spectacular show from May to June.

Peonies grow best in full sun and well-drained but moist fertile soil. The trick with Peonies is to not plant them too deep. The eyes or buds of the root clump should not be more than two inches below soil surface. Then cover them with a shallow layer of mulch. Peonies do not like to be moved so choose their location carefully.

Here are a few more fall chores to complete in between the raindrops; lawns can be limed, fertilized with a low nitrogen, high potassium fertilizer (that is a higher K number in the N P K designation), seeded or renovated. Dolomite lime can be added to the soil around lilacs, roses, clematis, pink hydrangeas or any other plant that prefers a sweeter soil. Continue planting perennials and trees. This is the perfect time to choose trees for their autumn color. Some great trees for home gardens are Acer griseum (paperbark maple), Oxydendrum arboretum (sourwood tree) or Styrax japonica (Japanese snowbell) or Amelanchier canadensis (Serviceberry) just to name a few. It is not too late to plant bulbs for cheerful winter and spring color.