By Phyllis Galowitz
The gurgling of Bryants Brook keeps time with my steps along Route 28, or maybe it’s the other way around: I keep time with the water tumbling over the rocks. I love this walk. It’s different every time: the colors from day to day, the sounds, the cloud formations, the sky. Always new, always exciting. Sometimes the horses neigh in the meadow; sometimes they’re quietly munching whatever’s growing. Sometimes birds and butterflies are flying over my head. But not today. Why? Do they know something that I don’t? Is there a storm brewing?
The leaves are falling and some of the trees are bare without having had the chance to adorn themselves in their fall colors. The brush in the meadow is brown and beige with clouds of lavender asters. Goldenrod waves in the breeze as I go by.
Today would have been a perfect day to start the fall clean-up. It was cool and not too sunny, but I was lazy. I hope I won’t be sorry. It’s important to catch these days as they come. There’s so much to do:
- The perennials need to be cut down to 6”, unless they have seeds or berries to feed the birds, like sunflowers.
- Iris, dianthus, lamium, primrose, black-eyed Susan, geraniums, daylilies, hostas, cornflowers and yarrow can all be divided.
- Leaves can be raked and bagged to form a rich garden amendment, called leaf mold, or shredded with the mower and raked into flowerbeds, or left on the lawn to slowly compost as mulch.
- Evergreens, after the first hard frost, should be sprayed with an anti-desiccant or wrapped in burlap.
- Roses, mulched. Vines, laid down on the ground and mulched.
- Protect ornamentals from bud-eating deer with netting or hang strong smelling soap from branches to deter them.
- Bag and discard diseased foliage.
- Sandpaper tools, clean with vegetable oil before storing..
- Dropped conifer foliage or needles are good to top dress winter beds.
- At news of overnight frost, pick tomatoes, peppers, squash and other veggies and store them in a cool, dark place.
- Freeze, cook or can those that are ripe.
- Clear garden of weeds before they drop seeds and create more weeds in the spring.
- Spread manure or compost on the garden, to be raked in when ground thaws in spring.
- Plant spring bulbs, garlic and lilies before the ground freezes.
- Empty clay pots, and bird baths, clean and store to avoid cracking.
- Bring in houseplants that will adjust to warmer, drier conditions with less light.
- Get bird feeders ready.
Doing all these chores in the fall will make spring planting “a breeze”.
I visited dear friends before they left for the winter. Their garden is beautiful and, sadly, they were leaving vegetables ready to be picked. They gave me a huge bagful of Swiss chard which I washed, parboiled for three minutes, put into an ice bath, drained and froze on a tray in portions and put into freezer bags. I’ll think of them as I eat Swiss chard this winter! My living room is filled with bouquets of sunflowers from them also, as well as gorgeous hydrangeas from Rima’s garden. The Montecalvos also have a magnificent vegetable garden. They gave me tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers, which I shared with my neighbors! How lucky I am to live in this great town of Andes! ~