By Shirley Smith, Somervell County Master Gardener
Thank goodness the weather has begun to cool down a little and we can get back outside without the fear of heat stroke! So now is the time to look around your area and see what needs attention.
If you are going to be putting in a fall garden and you want to be certain you get what you think you are ordering, then be wary of catalogs that only give you the common name of a plant. Often, the common name can vary from region to region. Only the scientific, or Latin, name ensures you will get exactly the plant you are looking for.
Okay, while we are on the subject of correct wording, here is another tip: The word “native” refers to plants that grow in the same habitat in which they originated. “Exotic” plants are those growing in a different area where they originated. Plants can be native to a continent, state or region.
Buy green. Buy garden products that don’t pollute. Try organic fertilizers and pesticides which won’t harm the environment after they break down.
Plants can help improve the air inside your home. The foliage and roots filter such household pollutants as benzene and tobacco smoke.
Just in time for Halloween, here is a tip about pumpkins. The pumpkin is one of the most versatile members of the gourd, or cucurbit, family. It is not only used for pies and soups, but also has seeds that make tasty snacks when dried and roasted. And, of course, the proverbial jack-o-lantern will be seen all over during the month of October.
Add a little color to your garden by painting your flowerpots (terra cotta or plastic) bright colors and placing them strategically around your beds. You might even want to paint that old chair a bright color. Try it and see how you like it!
Want your clematis or other climbing vine to cover your light post, but there is nothing on the smooth surface of the post for the plant to cling to? To solve this problem, use a scrap of heavy-gauge wire to create an excellent support. First, attach the end of the wire to the screw or lateral extension at the top of the post. Then coil the wire down around the post and insert in into the soil.
To protect perennial vines during that cold spell that we always seem to get, untwist the wire and, with the vine attached, gently push it to the ground. Mulch over the vine for the cold period. Be sure to uncover it when the danger of frost has passed.
I use a lot of “staples” for my drip irrigation system and found that these can be quite expensive. I give my husband the task of cutting up old coat hangers to the length I need and bending them to fit either over my ½’ main line or the ¼” line. They work wonderfully and I don’t have to worry about losing them down in the mulch!
Keep 1-gallon milk jugs filled with water near thirsty plants that always seem to need watering but are a pain to reach with the hose. Keeping jugs handy not only reminds you to give them a drink, but it also makes watering a breeze.