Digging into fall gardening with Ciscoe Morris

It’s a confusing time for gardeners.

It’s fall. The days are getting shorter. Traditionally now is the time to work on winterizing your garden – preparing it for the cold, wet weather we usually see this time of year.

But the soggy weather has yet to arrive.

We’re expecting temperatures to continue to be in the 70s this week, and we haven’t seen serious rainfall in months.

So, what should we be doing for our plants right now?

Gardening expert Ciscoe Morris says we have reason to be concerned about this fall’s dry, warm weather, particularly when it comes to our trees.

“If they go into the winter season too dry, and then we get a cold winter, which they’re saying we might get, that could have some detrimental effects for sure,” Morris said.

The only good thing that could come out of that is room for a new plant, he said.

Gardeners can winterize their plots to prepare for the colder weather. The most important step in that process is putting down mulch.

Morris suggests forgoing wood bark, a common mulch use for winterizing.

“It’s too uniform, and it stops air and water from getting to the roots of your plant,” Morris said.

Instead, he suggests using leftover woodchips – the result of an arborist cutting down or pruning a tree. Those pieces of wood aren’t uniform like bark, and break down into a nice top soil, Morris said.

“They have a magic quality where these little mycorrhizae attached to the roots of the shrubs, trees and perennials growing under woodchips and they send out feeders to find food for the plant,” he said.

Morris also suggests that for now, gardeners should keep watering their plants. With the warm days we’re seeing , tomatoes could still ripen if watered regularly.

“But once the weather starts getting colder at night, we start going down to 40s for instance, that could rot those tomatoes so fast you won’t believe it,” he said. “Keep an eye on the weather. If it’s going to get down in the low 40s or something, go out there and pick all those tomatoes that have any green in them.”

And if you’re looking to plant something new right now, look to shrubs. Blueberries and raspberries for example do well because their roots will just keep growing until we get really cold weather.

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