Things To Do After the First Frost

I’m over in the Ashland area this weekend and on the way over to the Key of C Coffee Shop for the Sunday morning Balkans music and dance session, I passed a nursery sign reading 30% to 80% off. This is the time of year to look for bargains. Once I’m filled with coffee and music I’ll be stopping at some of these nurseries. At this time of year the plants can look pretty awful, but if you choose carefully, there are some great bargains to be had.

This is a great time to be planting your new acquisitions. You will have to water them for a while before the fall rains really start, but the soils is still warm and will give the plant a chance to put out some roots before the really freezing weather, while the milder days are less stressful to the foliage. I have a collection of cuttings and other treasures that I have been nursing along in a shady spot over the hot days of summer. It’s also time for them to find a permanent home now.

This is also the time to think about bulbs. If you are ordering, get that order in now. The bulb companies ship in time for fall planting but often ship later that we’d like, thinking that all of Oregon has a mild rainy coastal climate. I usually use the comments section of the order form to remind them that I’m in a cold area and need the bulbs asap. Bulbs also like to be in the ground in time to grow some roots before the freeze, and I like to be able to plant them before I have to chip through frozen soil to dig a hole.

If you are growing root vegetables you still have a little time to spare. It’s probably a good idea to reduce the water to the potatoes if the tops have died back, but you just have to get them out of the ground before it freezes hard, and I’m usually out there in October some time desperately digging before a 20 degree night hits. If your potatoes freeze, they’ll turn to mush, and the carrots change texture—not nice.

One thing that you shouldn’t do now is fertilize. The last thing you want is for the plants to put out new growth which will be killed by a freeze. It’s time for the plants to be slowing down, the shorter days and cold nights preparing them for dormancy. I look around my garden and I’m just amazed at how much growth there has been since June. Our plants have to pack a lot of growing into a very short time.

I wish I could send you a little of the atmosphere here at the Key of C. What a wonderful way to start the day—filled with happy smiling people and soul wrenching music.

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