Autumn is the hush before winter. ~French Proverb
Having spent autumns in France, I attribute a portion of this year’s love for fall to my past travel experiences of quiet beauty in the yellowing vineyards, the crisp, cool mornings walking through fields sipping a café au lait, and the warming scents of seasoned firewood burning in evening hearths beckoning me to dine on the produce of the day. Autumn is harvest time here in California with the bounty of grapes, walnuts, apples, and pears ripe and ready. The last bushels of tomatoes, corn, eggplant, peppers, and summer squash are making their way to kitchen tables and to outdoor grills as we all enjoy the final hours of sunshine and patio parties. The days are shortening, the nights are lengthening, leaves are turning amber, umber, and orange as we herald in the hush before winter. Nature is in harmony as gardens begin to settle in for their long winter’s nap.
It’s time to start pondering our spring gardens by rotating crops so as not to deplete the nutrients for a healthy production next season. Cover crops, peas, and legumes are nitrogen fixers. Mix up the heavy feeders such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, brassicas, and corn with root vegetables of beets, onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes. If you live on a hillside, consider planting fire and drought resistant ice plant as a ground cover. Boasting an array of hues, ice plant will also keep the soil from eroding during the rains. Fall is the best time to scatter wild flower seeds, giving them time to germinate before spring. Mixes that include poppies, bachelor buttons, clarkia, lupine, marigold, aster, penstemon, dianthus, coneflower, and sweet William are available in packets as well as containers. Wild flowers attract pollinators and will keep the hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees buzzing around your property instead of your neighbors.
Sunflowers have been prolific and extra large this summer. As their heads droop, make sure to collect the seeds both for feeding the birds and also for saving for new towers.
When the weather cools, mosquitoes and other bugs tend to disappear. Enjoy the trickling of your fall fountain as you invite friends over for a final barbecue and outdoor meal as we wave good-bye to the summer sun.
The luster in the sky is a kaleidoscope of brilliance, a forerunner to the quiet before the storm. Bienvenue d’automne!
Cynthia Brian’s Beginning of Fall Gardening Tips
WATCH for aphids on plants, especially mandevilla. Mix 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with water into a spray bottle. Spray affected plants daily. The dishwashing liquid smothers the aphids.
MAKE applesauce or apple butter with the apples that fall from your trees. This year boasts a big crop of apples. You don’t need to peel the apples. Wash, slice away any brown spots, cut into chunks, add to a pot filled with a small of amount of water, boil, then add cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and honey for a delicious, healthy treat alone or with meats, over ice cream, or yogurt.
START to think about cover crops to add maximum benefits to your soil over the winter. Fall mixes can include seeds of legumes, grass, grains, broadleaf, and brassica, vetch, rye, clover, and radish. These will suppress weeds, add aeration, and increase soil aggregation.
PROTECT your heart by eating more leeks, keep diabetes at bay with more Swiss Chard, fight colds with dandelion greens, and build stronger bones with bok choy. Yes, these leafy greens can do all of that! Plant some.
SEND a plant off to college with your student to keep the indoor air clean while offering memory and concentration improvement. Prayer plants, peace lilies, pothos, and snake plants are just a few of the easy to grow specimens that will acclimate well to dorm rooms.
PLANT shallots in well-amended beds with plenty of compost in full sun. The greens can be harvested young or wait until they die back to harvest a cluster of shallots.
MUNCH on grapes straight from the vines or buy California grapes at your favorite market.
SAVE seeds from your favorite open-pollinated or heirloom tomato plants in Mason jars topped with water. Cover the jar, but don’t seal. Stir daily until seeds sink to the bottom. Rinse through a sieve and let the seeds dry on a paper towel until thoroughly dry. Fill a small jar with seeds, add a silica gel pack, store in the refrigerator until spring planting. Hybrid seeds will not provide tomatoes true to the mother.
DEADHEAD roses for several more flurries of blooms before January. It is wonderful to have cut flowers from your garden when December rolls along.
OVER-SEED lawns before the cold sets in. Pearl’s Premium is proving to be a drought resistant alternative to regular seed grass. It sets deep 14-20 inch roots and with two seasons of seeding should be hardy and fuller next summer. www.PearlsPremium.com
INCLUDE colorful coleus in both indoor and outdoor fall displays. The leaves are the flowers and the designs and patterns are endless.
SELECT tulip bulbs for November planting. Tulips need to be refrigerated for six weeks.
ATTEND the Pear and Wine Festival at Moraga Commons on Saturday, September 24 from 10-4pm. Pick up complimentary potpourri and a new children’s book from the Be the Star You Are!® booth sponsored by MB Jesse Painting, Starstyle® Productions, llc, Lamorinda Weekly, Children’s Success Unlimited, and Michael VerBrugge Construction. Click on events at www.BetheStarYouAre.org
Hello Fall! Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.