Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blossom Revival During Fall

By Kent Higgins

In the far North where killing frosts come early, October's bright, blue weather brings an end to the gardening season. In the central and southern part of the north central area, where garden plants can be given the little temporary protection they need to keep them safe from Jack Frost, flowers and gardens may extend into November.

Many garden annuals enjoy a blossom revival during the cool, clear weather of early fall. Snapdragons, verbenas, stocks, cosmos, geraniums, asters and others do especially well in October. The weather is also favorable to petunias, sweet alyssum, lobelia, marigolds, bachelor buttons and those last roses of summer that have such high quality and exceptionally good color.

The garden chrysanthemum, however, is the reigning king over the autumn garden. Up to now they have commanded little attention other than casual admiration of their good; green foliage and promise of blooms. Now, they steal the show with abundant, bright flowers. The garden chrysanthemum is especially important to northern gardens because the season is so short and these plants put on a brilliant performance " for a full two months at the end of the gardening year when most other garden plants are either through flowering or in a marked decline in this respect.

Protecting From Frost

In early fall light but damaging frosts usually occur at intervals of a week to ten days. Sometimes there may be two weeks between them. During these short frost periods, usually only overnight, it will be advantageous to give a little protection to plants that arc in bloom. Plants can be covered quickly and easily and blooms saved to be enjoyed for much longer periods in the fall. Almost anything that will afford a little protection to keep out frost can be used: newspaper, burlap, painter's dropcloths, worn out bedsheets and curtains or draperies. Cardboard cartons also can be inverted over blossoming plants to protect them.

When frosts threaten, it is important to place protective coverings over plants by the middle of the afternoon or soon after. This prevents the loss of the heat of the day, and conserves the warmth of the earth, giving added protection if the night should prove to be a really cold one Doing the job earlier in the day in a leisurely way makes it much more pleasant than it might be.if done later in the evening. It is important that the coverings do not touch the tops of plants, because frost injury is likely to occur there.

Use stout stakes (1 inch x 1 inch), long enough so that they can be firmly pushed into the ground above the tops of the plants being protected like what i am doing with my sphagnum moss. Coverings should be draped over the sides so that the plants are completely enclosed down to the ground. I also do this with my sphagnum moss.

Obviously, it is impractical to try to cover the entire garden. Select areas where there are good blooms to keep color and life right up to freezing weather.

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