Fall Gardening At Its Best

Orange tea olive fragrance is enjoyed in my garden.

Fortune’s osmanthus is a bold addition to my garden and is in bloom now. The scent is delightful.

Lettuce seeded in a pot about two weeks ago

As the fragrance of ginger lilies passed, the tea olives, also called osmanthus, scent my back yard now. And what could be better with this perfect gardening weather but a mild sweet scent in your garden as you do many of the chores we need to do now. Orange flowered tea olives only bloom for about 10 days in my garden. I have mine placed near a door, so I can enjoy it often while it is in bloom. Fortune’s osmanthus is a big bold tea olive that gets huge and make a perfect screen. Mine are about 10 years old from a 5 gallon plant and are 12 plus feet in height. It is covered with blooms, but it is not showy but very fragrant.
Now on to the garden chores. It is about the last week you can seed lettuce and expect to harvest any this fall if we do not have a hard freeze until after Thanksgiving. I simply sow the seeds in a pot of good soil, cover lightly and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.
One of my most important jobs in my garden is to pull all the weeds before they go to seed. Remember if you neglect this, your garden next year will have a healthy crop of ugly weeds. Remember even the smallest of weeds can produce seeds, so do not just pull the big ones, but get the garden as weed-free as possible.
Pansies and violas can be planted now, but remember to wait to mulch until after we have nights consistently below 50 degrees. If the roots at planting are very dense coming out of the pot, loosen them gently before planting to help them get established quickly.
Most fall planted perennials and biennials can be planted anytime now. Many selections are available in garden centers. Please follow the label directions with regard to sun and shade as well as moisture requirements.
I am still cutting my zoysia grass every several weeks. First, I cut to keep the grass neat and also remove the leaves that are beginning to sprinkle the turf. Remember many of those summer weeds in our turf we did not control earlier are going to seed, so be sure and bag your cuttings.
Finally in the area of the vegetable garden, I am removing all the spent vegetables, In the areas I am not planting fall and winter crops, I am covering the soil with clear plastic to help solarize the soil and keep winter weeds from coming up. Make sure you overlap the plastic cover to prevent holes. Weigh down the cover with sticks and/or stones to prevent high winds from blowing it off.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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