gardening tips


October, 2006

October is the time to prepare for next year. Have your soil tested to determine if there are any mineral deficiencies or imbalances that need to be corrected, and make those corrections now. Fertilize one last time with Bradfield 3-1-5. This gives the microbes all winter to break down the organics into usable plant nutrients. It’s also a good time to plant cover crops of winter peas, vetch, clovers, oats, rye, etc. in garden or crop areas to improve soil nitrogen and other nutrient content and reduce erosion. Compost can be added to improve soil structure and tilth. It is also a good time to replenish mulch around landscape beds. If you are in a dry area be sure to water young plantings. This will help them get established and be better able to withstand the cold winter months.


Question: Can I apply lime to my garden or lawn now?

Answer: Yes, fall is the ideal time, as lime breaks down slowly. Applying lime in the fall means that it will become incorporated into the soil over winter and will be ready for the new growth of spring. But if your lawn/garden needs it now, by all means apply it. However, be sure to conduct a soil test first to determine if you really need it, and if so, how much. Too much lime is just as harmful as too little (if pH gets too high, nutrients become unavailable to the plant). If the recommended application is over 50 lbs/1000 square feet, you may want to break it into multiple applications for aesthetic reasons (a lot of lime can lie there like a white powder for quite some time after application).

Question: Can I prune my linden tree now?

Answer: The only pruning that should be done to any tree in the fall is the removal of dead or damaged branches. All trees are gradually going into dormancy so that they can survive the ensuing cold weather. Pruning of healthy branches has a stimulating effect and could interrupt the natural process of preparing for winter.

Question: Our garden did not do well this year. Could the soil be worn out?

Answer: It is not likely that your soil is worn out. There are many factors contributing to a poor crop. One of them might be that nutrients are present but not available to the plants. Another might be an imbalance of critical nutrients. For a starting point, take a sample of your garden soil to the Extension Office or a good soil lab to be analyzed. The solution could be as simple as adding lime to raise the pH of a too-acidic soil. Use of an organic fertilizer such as Bradfield and addition of compost will help to build a healthy, robust soil over time that will nurture a strong garden year after year. Fall is a good time to start preparing for next year’s garden.

Question: Some of my raspberry bushes have spots on the canes. Should I do something about this before next season?

Answer: Removing the fruiting canes (which bear only once) immediately after harvest helps reduce disease and insect infections passing from the old canes to the new ones. Keep the area weed-free since some weeds are alternate hosts of disease as well as food and protection for insects. In the early spring spray the bushes with a commercial lime and copper sulfate spray, called a “bordeaux mix”, which can be purchased at most garden centers. Be sure to follow directions carefully, as improper use can burn the foliage.

Question: Should I do anything special for peonies in the fall?

Answer: Peonies are a hardy group of plants, but they can be susceptible to botrytis blight. As a preventative, cut the stems to the ground and dispose of any debris. Spray the soil with a bordeaux mix (copper sulfate and hydrated lime) now, in the fall, and again in the early spring when the shoots first appear. Peonies prefer a mostly sunny location. Fertilize in the spring with Bradfield 3-1-5.

Question: How and when should I prepare houseplants to bring them back into the house?

Answer: It is a good idea to bring the houseplants back into the house when outdoor conditions are similar to indoor conditions, when days are moderately warm and nights are moderately cool. This presents the plant with the least amount of environmental change and will allow for quick adjustment. Wash the foliage thoroughly. If insects are apparent, spray with insecticidal soap. To get rid of the travelers that hide in the soil, soak the pot and all in a solution of two tablespoons hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water for about twenty minutes. This should send any unwanted visitors scurrying to the surface where you can dispose of them.

For more information on organic fertilizing techniques, visit



April, 2007
Early Spring, 2007
Winter, 2006-2007

January, 2006
February, 2006
March, 2006
April, 2006
May, 2006
June, 2006
July, 2006
August, 2006
September, 2006
October, 2006


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