What a long Indian Summer! We have been warm up until just last week here in Chicago. I always feel like the seasons are just a little skewed here. Summer is really July-Sept, Fall is more like Oct-Nov, Winter takes more than it’s share of the year with Dec-March, and then Spring (with it’s residual bite) is April-June.
Needless to say, it is time to slow down and enjoy the warmth of blankets and hot beverages as the days get shorter.
As for the gardens, if yours is anything like mine, it is looking a little sad. The tomatoes are leggy and still trying to produce, the basil is done, and the last of the asters are tying to inspire a little color into the scenery.
Some things that I am slowly working on til the first frost are:
-removing diseased plant matter and throwing it away (powdery mildew is the most prevalent on zinnias, peonies, and some annuals)
-removing dead (and not diseased) plant matter and composting it
-waiting for a dry day to plant Spring bulbs
-turning the compost to get ready to spread what I can over beds and roses when I do the last fall clean up
As for fall clean up. I am a proponent of doing the least needed. All nightshades need to be disposed of in the trash, as well as diseased plant matter. I also dig out all my annual bulbs/tubers of caladium/elephant ears/calla lily and store them in boxes surrounded by newspaper in our basement. I also take a few snips of my favorite coleus to root and keep for next year. As for the rest, I leave most everything til spring. There is something kinda of pretty about looking out on a snowy day in December and seeing the coneflower seed heads dusted (or collapsed) in snow (depending on how fierce winter is). Also leaving some seeds out there provides the birds with some food.
So for now, slow down, have a fire, and wait for the first freeze. Fall is here…