October 2019       Volume 9, No. 9
Dear Friends,
We're enjoying this mild fall weather, perfect for gardening! Only a very brief visit from Jack Frost has come so far. This issue will highlight some of the season-end chores we're beginning to tackle. I hope you will let us know how we can help you with these tasks in your own garden!  Please contact Kim to get on our schedule or to request anti-desiccant or deer repellent spraying: < >
There have been some exciting projects this month: building a natural stone fire pit and new surrounding garden; and controlling invasive plants organically around a large pond before replanting with native wetland shrubs.

Work on the Fire Pit project

Finished fire pit

Control around the pond

Cutting, burning and hosing down stumps of invasive plants

Plant Pick - The Mighty Oak

Oak in the Fall
New England is blessed with white, black and red oaks along with other occasional species such as chestnut oak. Their fall color is just now beginning to show up as russet, scarlet and gold. All oaks are extremely valuable plants for wildlife. Entomologist Doug Tallamy notes that the leaves of one oak tree will support over 517 species of Lepidoptera (the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths). Nearly all of us have at least one oak in our yards!
If you don't have an oak but want one, I suggest you not purchase a balled and burlaped tree from a nursery. Oaks have a long taproot which may be broken in digging from the nursery row. Further, the transplant may not "take." Doug Tallamy suggests sowing acorns in pots, then planting the young tree out in two years. Oaks are fairly fast growing trees.
Did you know that it takes two seasons for an acorn to form? What with two seasons of bountiful rainfall, this is truly a big year (or mast year) for acorns. They're like marbles underfoot in some yards right now, so watch your step!  
Many mammals collect and feast on acorns: bear, deer, squirrel, chipmunk. We can, too, with a bit of effort, just as the Native peoples have done for generations.  
I took wild gatherer Tim Swanson's acorn class last fall. He noted that one should wait until November to gather the best acorns, as the oaks will drop the immature and insect-ridden ones first in September and October. He removes caps, soaks the acorns, dries them, grinds them into a flour, and bakes tasty breads, muffins and crackers. I thought these foods were quite delicious! While I doubt I will have sufficient time for all the processing, this class gave me new insight into the hidden value of the acorn.

Beginning to Get Ready for Winter:  Our Fall Garden Chores

Here are some things I'm thinking about that we are able to do in the near future for you. Let me know if you would like our help with any of the following:

Gnawing creatures under the snow or "buck rub" from deer - protect tree trunks with mesh supports or pebbles and hardware cloth. Thin barked species like crabapples, magnolias and fruit trees are always vulnerable.

Shrub protectors - Reese and Lee can measure your shrubs and build these now of long-lasting and good-looking cedar - install in November before snow falls off the roof and smashes your shrubs again!

Japanese maples - these plants were extremely vulnerable to damage last winter. They put on a lot of summer growth yearly and need an annual pruning check in November as their leaves drop. Reduce the load ahead of time and reduce the chances of damage to your prized specimens.

Netting around evergreens or other shrubs that splay in snow or that deer eat - apply a bit later in fall OR prune now to reduce the impact of snow load.

Cut back of perennials, clean up of annuals - usually done once frost comes. Does anyone know the date this year? Lately we have had to wait until November.  But why not enjoy the color and seedheads until then!

Laying down salt marsh hay or pine needles and evergreen boughs to protect perennials - do not do until ground freezes solidly! Or you end up making a nice winter home for mice and other rodents.

Winter mulching of certain subshrubs and woody plants - November maintenance work.

Deer protection spraying and anti-desiccant - November routes will be scheduled. 

Set up a Design Meeting Now?  Why Not!

Deanna is ready and willing to meet with you in your garden to discuss spring 2020 planting. For most projects, that process begins with design.
"Why now?  Shouldn't we wait until spring?"
As our season ends, Deanna looks forward to some less hectic winter time to design and plan with you, without the pressures of the spring season start-up. There will be ample time to prepare an estimate, and you could be one of the first clients out of the gate for our spring planting schedule in late April!
Another consideration: the highlights and low points of this garden season are fresh in mind, and it's easy to notice areas you'd like to improve or completely renovate.
Please contact Deanna at < > to set up an appointment.

Priscilla's Garden To-Do List for Late October/Early November:
  • Cut down perennials in stages as foliage blackens or flops over
  • Dormant pruning season begins when leaves are off the trees, with structure easily visible
  • Refresh containers for fall with hardy material that can withstand the occasional cold night
  • Remove spent annuals planted in the ground
  • Dig and store tubers of dahlias and gladiolus after frost
  • Clean up vegetable gardens promptly to avoid making havens for pests and diseases to overwinter
  • Test soil and amend vegetable gardens (for raised beds, also top off with fresh raised bed mix)
  • Test soil and amend ornamental beds of trees, shrubs and perennials
  • Rake and shred leaves for use as mulch
  • Drain and store hoses indoors for winter to prolong life
  • Shut down irrigation systems by early November
  • Plant spring blooming bulbs and garlic now
  • Finish dividing, planting and transplanting (last call!)
  • Top off shrubs and trees planted this season with a layer of winter mulch
  • Leave woody herbs, hydrangeas and tree peonies alone, do not cut back!
  • Plan for winter deer protection
  • Plan for anti-desiccant protection for vulnerable broadleaf trees and shrubs

So dress warmly, in layers, when you're outside and remember to check for ticks. They are active any time temperatures are above 32 degrees, every month of the year! We look forward to seeing you soon in the garden,
Priscilla and the PBOG Crew

© Copyright 2011-2019 Pumpkin Brook Organic Gardening, Inc. 
All rights reserved.