Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Pacific Northwest

October, 2003
Regional Report

Plant Green Manures

Fall is an excellent time to plant green manure cover crops in empty beds. Green manures are plants that grow up to be tilled under, adding organic matter to the soil. They also out-compete weeds and reduce soil erosion. Sow 1 to 2 pounds of hairy vetch or winter rye, or 1/4 pound of Austrian peas per 1,000 square feet of garden space.

Harvest Onions

Onions should be ready to harvest when the tops turn yellow. Dig on a clear, dry day, and lay them out on trays or screens in a shady, airy place. When the outer skins are thoroughly dry, wipe off any soil and cut off the tops ? unless you intend to braid them. Store your onions in a mesh bag, in a cool, dry place.

Add Some Autumn Color

If you'd like to add some fall color to your landscape, take a look at trees and shrubs that are showing brilliant color now, such as burning bush, sumac, sweet gum, and maples. Once you identify the plants you like, you can add them to your landscape. Many plants have as much beauty in their bark texture and twig color as they do in their foliage and flowers.

Lightly Prune Trees and Shrubs

We generally think of spring as prime pruning season, but a light fall pruning is beneficial to some shrubs and trees, especially those that produce an abundance of twiggy growth. High winter winds may damage these plants if they aren't pruned to a more compact size. In addition to removing excessive growth, prune out crossing branches in the interior of the plant, and any diseased or dead wood.

Don't Worry About Dropping Evergreen Needles

Evergreen trees and shrubs often drop some of their older foliage this time of year, mostly from the inner part of the plant. Although it may look dramatic, unless the tips of the branches are browning, a few dropping needles shouldn't cause concern. It isn't necessary to remove the foliage that drops; allow it to remain on the ground to serve as mulch for the shrub or tree.


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