My idea of a good time is losing myself in the garden but I must confess it’s right up there with spending time on the water. Many of you have told me that you enjoy my fish tales as much as I do, so here are a few words about my latest angling adventure. This week’s photo was taken Thursday on the shores of Lake Powell. I needed some “male bonding time” with friends from around the country so we spent last week hunting the illusive striper. This four-pounder was hanging out at the 60-foot level and gave a serious fight as he reached the boat. He was fat and melt-in-your- mouth-good, which made for a delicious dinner around the campfire. Truly, a life-enriching experience!
Isn‘t fall one of the best times of year? Beautifully warm days are filled with bright sun, yet the evenings are cool enough to lull us to sleep the instant our heads hit our pillows. Without question, fall is the best time to plant trees, spring-blooming shrubs, evergreens, cool season vegetables, along with winter color plants like pansies, kale, and violas. The best selection of fall colored plants is at garden centers right now.
As I’ve mentioned before, the most important benefit to planting now is the reduced risk of transplant stress. Even though plants may lose their leaves to winter cold they continue to root. By the start of the spring growing season well-rooted trees and perennials will push out tremendous growth, proving the value of their fall planting. This is also the time to be fertilizing the entire yard with a balanced 7-4-4 organic plant food.
Feeding is important, but lets not poison ourselves while we do it. Synthetic fertilizers are extremely water soluble and work their way into water tables and our lakes much easier than organic fertilizers. They don’t last as long either, so you find I only recommend plant foods that are all natural and far safer to use. This will also prove safer for nature and your pets as well.
I hand crafted a special mountain blend of food that really works better than any of the nationally branded synthetic foods. Simply labeled as my ‘All Purpose Plant Food’ this granular food is made from cottonseed meal and bird guano with other minor elements. Spread like any other plant food through a hand spreader and watch the magic happen in the landscape. Also, buying local means you are supporting local retailers, local truckers, local distributors and local plant food dealers, all of which are my good friends. I encourage you to support Arizona with this important fall feeding.
If this year your plants have been stressed by all the rain this summer, eaten by bugs this fall, or just didn’t perform like you wanted, feed them with my ‘All Purpose Plant Food’ and watch the difference in next spring growth. Native plants would greatly benefit from this food as well. Plants like pinion pine are prone to pine scale. A fall feeding will make the plant sturdier and thus better able to deal with spring pest. Ponderosa pine in like fashion are prone to bark beetle, but able to fend for themselves when fat and happy.
If planting a new tree is on your agenda, there are choices to suit every taste. Autumn Blaze Maple, Acer freemanii 'Autumn Blaze', is my best selling red-colored maple tree. This tree has a dense oval form that grows to about 40 feet. I would consider it a moderate water user that still maintains a fast growth rate. The most important feature of this maple is the reduced leaf tatter caused by spring wind storms. In the Chino Valley and Paulden areas where wind takes its toll on many other garden plants, I have seen beautiful specimens take on the elements and come out on top.
If you want color all year round with the best burgundy in fall, flowers in summer so bright you would think someone turned on the tree’s light switch, you have to consider the Chocolate Mimosa. This is a new tree to the area and super drought and wind hardy. Astro pink flowers dance across chocolate colored ferny leaves that are sure to kick up a branch and show off in any landscape.
For the past 4 years the undisputed best seller at my garden center is Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides, or trembling leaf poplar. Growing in the wild at the 6000+ elevation, this Arizona native is well suited for the area. Aspen have that classic pure white bark like a birch, but handle our clay soils much better. True to their name their dainty leaves literally shiver and quake at the lightest breeze. For a natural look with aspen, plant them in groups or buy a clump of aspen in the same container. They are social trees and like to hang out together in groupings.
My personal favorite is the Bradford Pear, Pyrus calleryana. This flowering pear heralds the onset of winter and the beginning of spring. The last tree to turn color in fall with radiant red leaves that usher in the start of the holiday season, it later announces the arrival of spring with vivid, pure white blossoms!
Enjoy the fall planting season.
Until next week, I'll see you in the garden center.
Ken Lain, "my personal mission is to help local homeowners garden smarter and get our local garden timing right." Throughout the week Ken can be found at Watters Garden Center located at 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd, Prescott, or may be contacted through his web site at www.wattersonline.com Until next week, I'll see you in the garden center.
Throughout the week Ken Lain is at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd, Prescott, and can be contacted through his web site at www.wattersonline.com . Ken says, “my personal mission is to help local homeowners garden better in our mountain landscapes.”