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Tidy-up gardening

October 4, 2019
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Summer boarders are looking a little droopy with all this hot sun and lack of rain. Perennials need some cutting back or maybe just thinning out the weaker parts.

My summer marigolds look pretty leggy so I will keep some and add a few fresh ones. I just love those plants -- so carefree and colorful no matter where you plant them, in the sun, of course.

You may have already planted some Chrysanthemums, but still lots in market.

Now is time to plant some spring bulbs, new or separated from a healthy clump of whatever you have.

Canna lilly is a great transplant. There are so many choices to choose from. You do need to make sure to read the plant tags. Full sun now means full sun, for sure.

Some gardeners enjoy leaving some bare patches here and there. Take out the old plants and rake the soil to loosen it. You do not want a dry hard surface all winter, so go about 2 inches deep and cover with some light mulch or till in some leaf cuttings from the lawn cutting.

Try some pretty zinnias, vinca and dainty dianthus. A larger planting perennial will be blue porterweed, a very reliable small bush, or dwarf bougainvillea if you have the room.

Fall is time for lawn care, we can now sow and fertilize lawns with a slow release nitrogen component. I no longer do lawns but know where to read about them. Lawns will not need as much watering now, and you need to remember that your fertilizer belongs on the lawn, not in the water, or on streets or sidewalks.

This is the time to switch to woody plants if you are tired of flowers.

You know, woody plants, AKA trees, vines and, of course, nice hedges.

They are the backbone of your landscape or a beautiful accent tree such as a poinsettia. There are dwarf poinsettia trees also. The smaller family of the huge poinsettia that is just as pretty when in bloom.

You do need to pay attention to planting trees, large or small. You do not plant one correctly and then smother up the base of the tree with mulch. There are so many palm trees planted and smothered because they are covered with heaped up mulch touching the trunk. A spread of mulch circling the tree about 1 foot away from trunk is essential, the circle depending on the size of the trunk. Water all around the trunk so it can seep in.

Many times you can see palm trees trucking down the road to a destination, remember how large their roots are.

Do not ball them up, spread them out. A palm settled in well will need to get watered away from the trunk, remember where those roots spread out. Sprinklers should be set to water the soil, not the trunk.

Woody plants are permanent, provide beauty and landscape structure. They provide our wonderful shade in the summer. Enjoy.

Tree and shrub planting -- learn techniques from a certified arborist Saturday, Oct. 5 ,from 9 to 11 a.m., at the local Rotary Park center; $5 per person.

Time to get busy with fall vegetable gardening. I am still deciding what to plant at my city garden site now, I am certainly not the most successful gardener but I had a good time planning and planting a few easy things and had some harvest to take home. Thank heaven.

I had a good carrot and cherry tomato harvest, and great basil. I think this time around I will be able to have a bigger salad harvest.

Happy gardening till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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