Gardening in Tofino: September
by Trina Mattson, Tofino
With the beginning of September being so beautiful, many gardens started to repop into blooming mode, baskets flourished especially if they had been kept tidy and fertilized with a high phosphorus fertilizer, ( that's the middle number in the 3 number sequence on a container). As well many of the ornamental deciduous trees put on a fabulous showing of fall colour. Shrubs continued to bloom longer with the drier warmer weather, and seemed to brighten up for a short while. Once the cooler weather towards the end of September arrived you could see the true meaning of fall as leaves really started to fall of their branches.
And so the onset of Fall began.
Into the latter part of the fall, there is still time to plant those bulbs for spring colour. The best and most popular time to purchase and plant Spring bulbs is in September and October, although bulbs can be planted as late as January, but you'll be hard pressed to find them not potted up for sale by the middle of November. Don't forget there are also bulbs available for potting up indoors for blossoms around Christmas time, Narcissus that are heavily scented, and Amaryllis with their tall and very large colourful blooms, as well as hyacinths for forcing and crocus'. Also Garlic bulbs can be planted up at this time for harvest next year. There is regular garlic, both hardneck and softneck, and elephant garlic with their individual cloves being almost as large as a whole garlic bulb, all very easy to grow, and a bonus of a bloom in summer as well. Anyone who did plant garlic last year can now harvest it, simply dig up the bulb, dust of the dirt and leave it outside in a dry spot til the bulb dries out, cut off the flower stock, and you have yummy fresh garlic.
Chances are by the end of October, your baskets and planters are looking really sad, clean them out of soil and plants, rinse the interior with water and some detol to disinfect, or a very mild solution of bleach, and then store them for the winter. Some perennial planters will need to be cut back, but skip the rinse cycle with these guys. And most likely they can stay out just where you have them. Keep garden beds free of fallen leaves and debris. If you haven't done this, here's your one last chance to fertilize your lawn for the year, so it has a healthy start to next year as most nutrients are depleted from the ground over the winter from the rains. Also if have the will and time, seed some winter crop cover into the vegetables beds, this will add nitrogen to your garden for next year, as well as improve the soil structure.
Trina Mattson runs the Ordinary Corner Nursery in Tofino.