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Village of AsharokenThe small but powerful Village of Asharoken

"September Song" by Joan G. Hauser          September 2009

Vacation's Over for House Plants
As temperatures begin dipping into the 50ís at night, itís time for houseplants to return from their garden rest cure. Check them closely for insects, and signs of disease. See if they need re-potting; plants tend to spread out during their summer holidays. After taking them inside, set plants in a sunny window. Donít worry if they drop leaves as they get used to their winter quarters.

Save Your Own Seeds
Saving your own seeds is free and ensures you'll have the same plant next year.
 
Saving your own seeds is free and ensures you'll have the same plant next year.
You have a lavish garden center in your own yard. As long as your vegetables and flowers are a true species and not hybrid, they will breed true next spring. (Hybrids, the result of cross breeding will not and may even be sterile.) When seed pods are ripe, bring them inside and shake over white paper. Spread the seeds out and allow them to dry completely before storing them in a dry dark place at a low temperature ( between 40 and 50 degrees). Keep them in envelopes, or jars with tight fitting lids noting the name of the seed on the container.

A month or so before planting them next spring, run a seed test by placing about 25 seeds on a few layers of moist paper towels and rolling up loosely. Store in a warm place and check every two or three days. Most seeds will germinate between 10 to 14 days. If they donít, discard the original batch.

Spring Bulbs
This year, after ordering the usual daffs, and tulips, consider some delightful minor bulbs. Their low flowers, usually three to five inches tall, will provide the first burst of spring color next year. Among others, consideróin order of appearance from the end of January till mid-April-ó snowdrops (Galanthus) glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxra luciliae), Crocus, winter aconite (Eranthus cilicica), snowflakes (Leucojum vernum), Scilla, and grape hyacinth (Muscari). Plant in groups or clumps in well-drained soil three to four inches deep and the same distance apart. Since these bulbs bloom so early, they will flourish and multiply in areas that become shady later in the season.

Invite Annuals In for the Winter
Your container plants can spend the winter indoors
 
Your container plants can spend the winter indoors.
Brighten up your house this winter with summer annuals, and, while youíre at it, save a trip to the nursery next year. Most container grown plants will re-bloom in 6 to 8 weeks. Simply cut them back hard (from 4 to 6 inches) making sure to keep some leaves on stem, feed liberally, and place in a south or west window.

Cuttings are another way to go. If you have good light, you can bring in zinnias, marigolds, begonias, and many others. Pinch off flower buds, root cuttings in vermiculite, and cover with a clear plastic bag to retain moisture. (Make sure leaves do not touch the plastic for they will rot. ) Keep the rooting medium moist, but not soggy and place away from direct sunlight for up to 10 days. After the roots have grown at least one inch, transplant into individual pots, and after 2 or 3 days, move into direct sunlight.. Geraniums are different. Root in moist sand and be patient. It can take as long as one month.

Plant Them Now
This is the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. New growth has begun to harden off so extra nutrients are available for root development. Dig a hole four to six inches larger than the root ball. Add enough backfill, a combination of top soil, peat moss or other organic matter, and sand combined with bone-meal at 1/2 cup per bushel of soil so the top of the root ball is approximately equal to the surrounding soil. If the plant is balled or burlapped, remove only the string. Water the backfilled hole thoroughly before inserting plant. Mulch, and water very well at least once a week to encourage root growth.