By Dot Zanotti Ingels
The mission of the Marin Master Gardeners is to extend research-based knowledge and information on home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices to the residents of Marin County. We relish every opportunity to share what we know and love with our neighbors throughout Marin. We are excited that Patch has given us space to share with you timely information each month.
Fall is upon us. Enjoy the color show of the deciduous trees before they drop their leaves. As the sun sinks lower and the days shorten, the quality of the light our plants receive is more subdued. It is tempting to quickly clean up our gardens and settle in the house for the winter. But avoid the temptation, because there is so much that can happen in your fall garden with a little effort and you will get the added benefit of enjoying the crisp, fresh air.
September is a prime planting month. All landscape plants can be put in during the autumn months. The soil is still warm, encouraging strong root growth, but leaf and top growth slows with the lowering temperatures. It may not look like the plants you are putting in are doing anything -- it is only because the work they are doing is below the soil line.
When spring comes, they will have strongly established themselves and be ready for a show in your garden. Many of the nurseries are offering sales this month. Go in and check them out. Many of the perennial and landscape plants are available at a significant discount at the very time of year it is best to plant them.
It is also not too late to put in some vegetables to enjoy through the cool weather season. There is still time to plant beets, kale, radishes, cabbage, spinach and lots of lettuce. Plant them in an area that is easily accessible when the ground is wet.
Think about planting bulbs for a winter or spring treat. It is a little early to plant many of the bulbs now, but they are coming to the nurseries now or very soon. They tend to go quickly, so check them out and buy them early and you will have them when you are ready to put them in the ground. You can certainly prepare your bulb beds now if you would rather garden in the warm fall sun.
Remember that any plant at any time of the year does its best when it is planted in great soil. Before you put in your plants, treat your soil to compost or purchased soil amendment products. Find plenty of information on soil and how to care for it on our website: ucanr.org/sites/MarinMG.
The Marin Master Gardeners is also launching a quarterly newsletter to better serve our Marin neighbors. You can easily sign up for the Leaflet by visiting the Marin Master Gardeners website and clicking the link on the left hand side of the home page.