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Through my garden gate

Welcoming the autumn season

Roger Boddaert


My new column has stirred many thoughts and ideas for you to enjoy being outdoors at this time of the year. And, as the sun sets a little lower on the horizon, and the fields are vibrant with pumpkins, I feel a bit of a nip in the air, and fall is in the making.

Fall is the turning of a new seasonal leaf and brings about the harvest with the earth's changes in the northern hemisphere. Yet, no two seasons are the same, but it is predicted that the upcoming months will be warmer. In saying so, we must adopt and alter our past chores and other tidbits in the gardening experience.

One clear visual to enjoy is leaves changing into colorful foliage in the fall season. Plants have their own built-in time clocks and, depending on the weather, they will shed their leaves and give us an array of autumn colors.

These are some of our fall seasonal colors to look out for: liquidambar, ginkgo, willows, redbuds, pistachio, and maples. But if it's more color you want, look to pyracantha berries, toyon red fruiting clusters, flowering pink silk floss trees, golden raintree flowers, sycamore trees, crape myrtle, colorful bougainvillea, and more.

Here are some thoughts for your garden:

· It's clean-up time for some of last summer's abundant growth in preparation for the next season, with the deadheading of flowers.

· The falling leaves are a treasure to save and use all those trimmings from last summer's growth in your compost pile.

· Don't forget to mulch various areas of your garden to preserve soil moisture and build a healthy environment for the root system, and mulching is a good thing.

· Don't use poisons to eliminate your weeds, try horticultural vinegar or use a hoe, for its healthy exercise and burns calories. Working in the garden is suitable for your general health and being in contact with nature is therapy.

· Check your irrigation system, and perhaps reset the automatic clock for cooler and shorter days of sunlight.

· If you grow vegetables, prep your beds or large containers with organic compost to build up yummy dirt for the new season of veggies.

· Plant cool-season crops like kale, lettuce, carrots, spinach, broccoli, parsley, thyme, rosemary, arugula, and sage.

· Try growing delicious dragonfruit, which you can espalier on a chain link fence. It's easy to grow and loaded with many antioxidants for your health.

· In 1800, 50% of Americans were farmers. In 1945, Americans grew 45% of their food in their backyards, called Victory Gardens. In 2020, Americans grew less than 1% of their own food supply.

· Isn't it time we get back to the earth and become more sustainable by growing some of our own foods? The food chain will not get any cheaper in days to come, so it's time to be more self-sufficient.

· It's time to do a little fall pruning and shape leggy or gangly twisted branches from last summer's growth. But don't over prune for too much sunlight entering the plants' structure can cause sunburn and damage. An excellent little book is "How to Prune Fruit Trees" by Sanford Martin.

· It's pumpkin season, and fields abound with orange, yellow, gold, and assorted shapes, forms, and curious-looking types. This year's historic grand champion pumpkin weighed in at over 2,500 pounds in the state of New York. Now that's a lot of pies or mucho pumpkin lattes.

· Going to a pumpkin patch can be a family affair for young and old, so make it a season to remember with a traditional outing, for the youngsters need to get outside and learn more about the earth's wonders.

· It's time this month to dig and divide perennials like agapanthus, daylily, alstroemeria, iris and verbena.

· Clean the gutters around the roof and flush them out with a hose. Consider installing gutter guards to keep debris out so it doesn't get clogged.

· Set out paperwhite bulbs for their beauty and fragrance at this time of year, and usually, they will return year after year. Try growing the rare Sea-squill bulbs which are very drought tolerant in the landscape and available at Ace Hardware in Fallbrook.

· Enjoy the great outdoors to see and experience our excellent fall weather.

Here are a few of my favorite things to see in San Diego County:

· Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center for seasonal crops to enjoy.

· Pearson's nursery in Vista, a source of great veggie plants.

· 1924 Vineyard and Pumpkin patch on East Mission Road, Fallbrook.

· Visit the Antique Engine & Tractor Museum in Vista. A great place to take the kids and show them working stream engines, crafts, weaving, train rides, metalsmiths, and an era of farm equipment that built America.

As the world turns, so are nature's seasons, and this time of year offers you an opportunity to get out and care for our precious blue marble floating in space in the gentle autumn weather we are experiencing.

Recommit your time and energy to help our planet by recycling, re-purposing, reusing, and rethinking your lifestyle.

The clock is ticking, and the planet is talking to us loud and clear that she wants all our help, not tomorrow, not next month, but now.

Plant some trees and help cool the planet for mankind and our future. Fallbrook's Save Our Forest has a tree planting program you might consider hooking up with, for it does great things in the community.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, for it is the only thing that ever has," said Margret Mead.

Roger Boddaert can help you with your gardening needs and setting a plan for caring for your environment at [email protected].


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