When Opportunity Knocks

opportunityknocksby Rick Vuyst

In September, opportunity for prime gardening is right outside your front door. September is a fantastic month to upgrade or change your landscape. Just about any garden activity is primed for success during this month. Even colorful annuals like pansies, ornamental kale or Swiss chard can be planted for enjoyment. Bulb planting takes place in September as an investment in your spring spirit. Lawns are established or rejuvenated and weed controls are very effective at this time. Trees, shrubs and evergreens are successfully planted in the warm soil of September establishing roots before winter and jump starting from the gate in spring. Perennials can be divided and moved as new planting beds are arranged or started. All this and more can be done in beautiful temperate weather conditions and often at a savings, as fall is a great time to develop a green thumb from season-ending specials.

Warm soil following summer combined with the natural rainfall we tend to get in the fall season makes root establishment for plants optimal. Years ago when I began in the horticulture industry I was taught to never put a $5 plant in a $.50 hole. Those words still ring true today, for success in planting focus on the root and not the fruit. That means amending soil with compost, peat moss and other organic material to improve the tilth and the moisture and nutrient retention capability of the soil. Do so in a broad area surrounding the planting site to ensure the roots will continue to anchor and establish as they extend into the soil profile outside of the hole you dug.

Coming up in October, we will be afforded the opportunity to collect leaves falling from the trees to add to the soil. Chopping them up first improves the decomposition process; as the leaves break down, they supplement the soil with valuable natural nutrients. I always tell people, “Yes, money does grow on trees!”

Take advantage of the month of September, the “second spring” of the planting and gardening season. It is a great opportunity to answer the door when opportunity knocks.

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Soil Tips and Tricks

Soil Care
If the soil is experiencing stress, focus on improving the soil quality with the above mechanism instead of breaking it down or disrupting the natural organisms with unnecessary additives or actions.

  • Avoid adding chemicals
  • Minimize trekking area
  • Work when soil is dry

Organic Matter Options
Adding organic matter may help balance the soil’s pH levels while supporting healthy soil ecosystems. Provide more food for the microorganisms that live in the soil, and your plants will have more food, too!

  • Home-made or locally bought compost
  • Chopped vegetable scraps and clippings
  • Rotting mulch
  • Peat moss
  • Chopped leaves
  • Used and rinsed coffee grounds
  • Composted manure (try purchasing bags from a local garden center)

Natural Pesticides
If the bugs are hitting too close to home, try some of these natural remedies. Adding a small amount of one of the following components to water and spraying near the garden will help deter pests.

  • Salt
  • Citrus oil
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Castile soap
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Onion and garlic

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Rick Vuyst is CEO of Flowerland, host of the Flowerland Show on NewsRadio WOOD 1300 and 106.9 FM as well as Mr. Green Thumb on WZZM TV 13.

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