Fall isn’t just for putting the garden to bed, it’s also for investing in next year’s rewards and successes. With thoughtful planting and care, fall-planted bulbs will provide magnificent blooms spring after spring. Likewise, garlic can provide easy rewards come up early summer if they get off to the right start in the fall. And if there’s ever a time to give some attention to your lawn, it’s in the fall when conditions are best for an array of tasks that can really make a difference. In this episode of Granite State Gardening, UNH Extension’s Emma Erler and Nate Bernitz share proven tips and solutions for fall yard & garden efforts with big rewards.
· Featured Plant: Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa species)
· Closing tip: food preservation basics
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Transcript by Otter.ai
Nate Bernitz 0:00
Welcome to the Granite State gardening podcast, a production of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. We're back to gardening proper for today's episode, focusing on bulbs you can plant this fall. We're releasing this episode to give you some time to take what you learn and put theory to practice over the next couple of months. Before we get into it, I want to tease our next episode, which we're doing thanks to requests from a few different listeners. Thank you. It's going to be on season extension methods and growing into winter. This will be perfect for hobby gardeners and homesteaders who want to grow year-round. This will also cover overwintering crops where you plant in the fall and harvest in the spring. We'll likely touch on frost seeding, winter sowing, and putting the garden to bed as well. Becky Seidman will join us again for this one. Email more suggestions, feedback and questions for the show to firstname.lastname@example.org and let's go!
Greetings Granite State gardeners. I'm Nate Bernitz, Public Engagement Program Manager for UNH Extension, joined as always by horticulturist and UNH Extension field specialist Emma Erler. Emma, our minds are certainly still on our fall gardens, enjoying continued blooms, enjoying vegetables from our gardens, hopefully enjoying a bountiful fruit harvest as well from from our trees and berries. It's important in the fall to also devote a little bit of your mental attention forward to next spring, right? Bulbs are a good example of that. There are some things in the garden like garlic that need to be attended to in the fall. And I think we'd also want to talk a little bit about lawn care, because early fall is the most important time of the year to invest a little bit of time and effort in your lawn, even if you're not a lawn person. But let's start with bulbs. So this time of year, we're planting spring blooming bulbs, which we can call fall planted bulbs. It's a little difficult to to wrap your mind around the terminology. But Emma, tell us what bulbs you're thinking about this time of year, and going into the late fall, maybe even early winter, for planting here in New Hampshire?
Emma Erler 2:39
Well, I I get really excited about spring bulbs and thinking about them, just because the winter can be so incredibly long. I think for anybody who gardens the winter can be really long, and having something to look forward to really shortly after the snow melts, something blooming, is a wonderful thing. This happens to be just about the time of year that people are buying bulbs, I think it's not too late. Right now we're in the beginning of September. It's not too late still to order some bulbs too or pick them up at a local store. But we're getting close to the time where you're probably going to be thinking about putting those in the ground. For me, I usually try to wait until temperatures cool a little bit. And most importantly, soil temperatures cool. So for my bulbs, I'm looking to get those in the ground, typically in October, or maybe even into November. I've actually planted bulbs even in December before and they were still perfectly fine. So it's something you want to do really as the season starts to change, and things start to cool down. And the same is gonna be true for your garlic, although we'll talk about that more. That being the one edible bulb that we're thinking about in the garden. You did a nice distinction earlier, or at least the two terms that are used for bulbs. We have our spring blooming bulbs, which are planted in the fall. Most catalogs that I see just list them as fall planted bulbs, I think to eliminate some of the confusion there. But these are species that are probably going to bloom anywhere from March through May. There's quite a diversity here and many of them are pretty exciting or unusual. Some are quite common, like daffodils and crocus, but there's a lot of different species that I can get excited about.
Nate Bernitz 4:39
Emma, why can't you just plant spring blooming bulbs in the early spring? Are you planting him in the fall so they develop a root system? Are you actually expecting to get some green shoot growth in the fall? What is the reason that we plant in the fall and what's the thinking about exactly when in the fall you do it? Can I plant them now in September, is that too early? And if so why?
Emma Erler 5:02
That's a great question, Nate. So ideally, yes, we do want some root growth in the fall before the ground freezes in the winter. But really, the important thing, or the most important thing for bulbs is that they need to go through a cold period in order for them to develop flower buds. And in order for that flowering to be initiated in the spring, the majority of bulb species that we grow in our gardens need somewhere between 10 to 14 weeks or so of cold weather. So temperatures that are closer to freezing, you don't have to dip below freezing, but you need to be around 40 degrees or under. So you could potentially plant bulbs in spring, if you artificially expose them to cool temperatures, but they probably wouldn't do quite as well, because they wouldn't have had that root development that they have in the soil. We we want that for sure. We want that bulb to become established to the root system. We need we need to plant them in the fall so that they go through a natural winter and bloom on time in the spring. What you don't really want typically is a whole lot of shoot growth, though. If you plant your bulbs too early, let's say late summer, early fall, in September, it's oftentimes still quite warm. Soil temperature is still quite warm. And if you plant your bulbs too early, they're likely to sprout, probably not bloom, they won't send up that flower bud unless they've been exposed to cold already, but they'll send up their foliage. That's not typically the end of the world for bulbs. It will take some energy out of that bulb, and that foliage is going to be damaged. It's not going to survive the winter, so you probably won't have quite as good looking a plant come spring. It's not the worst thing, but if you can just hold your horses and wait until things really start to cool down in October. Perfect.
Nate Bernitz 7:02
This time of year, not only are we thinking about planting spring blooming bulbs, but there are some bulbs that we call tender bulbs that you're actually digging up in the fall rather than planting. Right?
Emma Erler 7:15
That's true. For a lot of people that grow annuals, some of the annual species that grow from from tubers or bulbs, you might be thinking about digging those up to try to save them over the winter. A classic example is dahlias. Dahlias can be saved for decades, potentially, if they're dug up and stored properly over the winter. The same can be said for cannas, they can be dug up pretty easily and stored. If anybody grows things like elephant ears, or caladiums; those two can often be dug and saved and brought back out again the following summer. It takes a little work to do that. Usually you want to wait until after the first frost when that foliage has died down. And then you can dig up that clump of of roots, tubers, of bulbs, whatever the type of storage system that plant has - dry it out. And then you're gonna want to pack it in some sort of material that you can keep just slightly moist, something like shredded newspaper, sawdust, wood shavings, vermiculite, maybe even some peat moss. I often just put them in a paper box or a cardboard box, I should say, with some sort of bedding material, sometimes newspaper that's just slightly damp, and I keep them in the coolest spot I possibly can in my house that doesn't get below freezing. So the ideal is something that's a space that's around 50 degrees or maybe even a little bit cooler. And if all goes well, those will make it through the winter in a dormant state and then you can pull them out again in the spring, get them potted up or move them directly into your garden.
Nate Bernitz 9:04
So maybe in the southern United States, if you're growing dahlias, do you just skip that and grow them as perennial bulbs in the same way that we grow daffodils and tulips as perennial bulbs up here?
Emma Erler 9:16
You potentially could and even sometimes up here, if you forget to lift a Dahlia from the ground or you just don't get to it. Sometimes they do survive the winter. They might survive the winter for a couple of years and then one year it doesn't make it. The one reason why you might not do that though, with a Dahlia at least, is that you might want to dig that plant up to actually divide those tuberous roots up so that you can have more of them. With a lot of plants if you don't divide them after a while you get fewer and fewer blooms. So a lot of people like to dig them up anyways so they can divide up the plant and distribute those throughout the garden. I know for a fact though. down south a lot of times Canas are left in the ground year round, and they're perfectly fine. That's a very tropical-looking plant that does okay if you're a little bit warmer than New Hampshire.
Nate Bernitz 10:10
Ultimately all bulbs are perennial by nature. It's just a matter of whether they're perennial, or rather hardy, in a particular zone where you're gardening. But there's there's no such thing as an annual bulb.
Emma Erler 10:25
That's exactly right. By nature, all these things that we're calling bulbs, which, botanically speaking, not all of them are true bulbs. Some of them are tubers. Some of them are rhizomes, but to make things easy, we'll call them bulbs. These are perennial plants. The purpose of this this bulb is to be a storage tissue or storage structure, so that this plant can go dormant, whether it's just for the winter, or whether it's during the hot, dry season, and have all this energy stored up to come back again the following season, when growing conditions are perfect again for them to to thrive.
Nate Bernitz 11:09
How do you go about getting bulbs to bloom indoors, say, over the winter, when you want to have some color? Is that possible? Can you give them a chilling period, say in your refrigerator, and then plant them in a container inside your house and get those get those blooms?
Emma Erler 11:26
Absolutely. There's a few ways to do it. I think some of us might not have a lot of room in our refrigerator for bulbs. But if you do, you could absolutely do that. I've seen them stored before just in cool storage, just in the the bags that they come from. The key is just being to keep the humidity up around them, but not let them get wet so that they might rot. So the the vegetable crisper, if you have a bunch of room in there could be a spot where you keep bulbs. And you need to keep them in there for that time period, at least that 10 to 14 weeks or so before you plant them out. What I've also had luck with for forcing, which I think works for a lot of people who don't necessarily want to take up room in the refrigerator for bulbs, is to take your container that you want to use. Because if you're forcing bulbs to bloom outside of the regular season, let's say in the winter, obviously they need to be in a pot of some sort. Plant them in that pot just with regular potting mix, and then put them within the pot in a cool spot. That could be in a cold frame. It might be in an unheated garage, or a shed or something. You don't need that pot to get below freezing. Ideally, it's not going to, you're going to keep it just above freezing. You're going to leave those planted bulbs in those containers just slightly moist for again, that same window of time - 10 to 14 weeks or so. Then when you're ready, when you want to have these blooming indoors, take them out of that cool spot, bring them to a warm and sunny spot inside your house or inside a greenhouse, and let them start to grow. Water them to get them going. Pretty soon you'll have your blooms, which is really, really nice. I certainly helped out with this sort of project when I worked at a couple of different Botanical Gardens, so that we had a really nice bulb display in February when people were just desperate for some sign of spring.
Nate Bernitz 13:34
For those bulbs that you do force indoors, once they're done blooming, what do you do with them at that point?
Emma Erler 13:40
Well, you have a couple of options. If you're made of money, you might just put them on the compost pile, knowing that those bulbs are kind of tired out, they're probably kind of stressed out from growing in a container like that. Your other option is to take them out and plant them in the garden, as soon as they're finished blooming. What I've found when I've done that is that if the bulbs bloom again, it takes them a few years to recuperate before they bloom again. I've only tried planting out daffodils that have been forced, and it's taken two or three years for them to bloom again. But it's kind of a nice surprise when those finally bloom. It's like, oh yes, those are the bulbs that were forced a couple of years ago.
Nate Bernitz 14:23
Okay, this time of year, like you had mentioned, is when we're going through our catalogs, in many cases, if we want some of those specialty varieties or potentially going to our local garden centers and perusing the options they have available. What do you look for as a bulb shopper? What are you looking at in that description and that online catalog or print catalog? If you are in person at a garden center, are you doing any sort of physical inspection of the bulbs? Something I've noticed in catalogs is that the same bulb might be sold at different price points. I'm curious what kind of insight you have on what's differentiating bulbs sold at those different price points?
Emma Erler 15:11
All great questions. I think it's easiest if you're shopping for bulbs in person. If you go to the garden center, if you go to your local hardware store where they usually carry bulbs this time of year, actually physically inspect the bulbs to see what you're getting. In general, you want the biggest possible bulbs you can get your hands on. These are going to have not only larger blooms, but they might have more blooms. If you get small bulbs, you'll probably still get a bloom, but it won't be quite as robust. On a daffodil, for example, you might just get a single flower. In catalogs, that's also when you're talking about these different price points. That size of the bulb is often the differentiation. The higher price point is probably a larger bulb, that's going to do a little bit more in your garden that first season. The cheaper ones are going to be smaller bulbs. Nothing is wrong with either one, it's just a matter of what you're going to get come spring. Those really big, healthy bulbs with big huge flowers make a really nice display. Smaller ones have maybe not quite as big a display the first year, but it'll probably get better and better as time goes on. If you do have the luxury of buying bulbs in person, or if that's what you plan to do, you'll also want to look at the condition of the bulbs, you don't want to see any signs of rot in them. That's often pretty obvious, seeing some some blue, moldy growth on there is something that you don't want. If any of the bulbs feel squishy at all, if you just squeeze them lightly, that's also a no-go, because those have probably rotted and they're not gonna sprout. Outside of those two things, [choose the] biggest bulbs possible and nice, firm bulbs with no signs of mold. The only reason why you might want to order bulbs, I think instead of just picking them up locally, or I guess there's a couple of reasons. One, you're looking for a large quantity of bulbs that you're not going to be able to find locally, or two, you're looking for more unusual varieties. A lot of times if you're buying from a store, you may not have a whole lot of selection. Although depending on where you're going, you may still have plenty of really cool varieties to choose from. But if you order from a catalog company, you're probably going to have dozens of different varieties to choose from, and maybe even some different species within a genus. Say you're interested in Allium. Now if you order from a catalog, you might be able to choose between five different species of Allium. Whereas if you go to the store, you may just have a choice of one or two. I often do a bit of both. I'm a bit of an impulse shopper in person. I guess the same is true when I'm shopping a catalog too. But I often get the most unusual stuff when I'm catalog shopping.
Nate Bernitz 18:11
Well, of course, when you are catalog shopping, and you have all these different varieties to choose from, those selections are a matter of personal preference, and everybody's going to come down on that differently. Now seems as good as time as any to ask you about some of your personal preferences. What are some of your favorite spring blooming bulbs? Do you have any particular varieties recommendations to give just based again on what you enjoy?
Emma Erler 18:38
Of course! Well, there are a lot that I really enjoy, and there honestly aren't really any bulbs that I dislike in the spring. I love alliums, big globe alliums. They bloom a little bit later in the season, we're talking about late April or May. They're a really, really interesting plant that animals don't tend to touch either and two varieties that are pretty classic, but I always enjoy are gladiator and globe master. These are big, huge, perfectly round flowers that are a nice deep purple color on a straight strong stem. They just look really bizarre and interesting. The seed heads are kind of cool to leave up in the garden because they have this neat star-like pattern. I've used them for art, I've also just left them in the garden for decoration. So I love that. I'm also a big fan of some of the species crocus too. It's kind of a classic, but I love crocus tommasinianus, which is just a really nice blue purple. It naturalizes quickly so that means it spreads pretty quickly on its own, which is really wonderful. And another naturalizer that I really can't get enough of is glory of the snow, Chinodoxa. It's a really neat little flower that's about an inch across, that's blue and white, kind of a star-shape pattern I guess. That one also naturalizes quickly so if you don't consciously dig them up and divide them they will spread on their own. They can be nice for rock gardens. I've even seen them used in lawn areas beneath trees to good effect
Nate Bernitz 20:30
On that topic, what recommendations or maybe even inspiration do you have for garden design when it comes to bulbs? How do you think about creating that vision as you are putting together your order, this time of year? You're looking at your yard and while there there are some open spaces, and I guess one basic thing is density, that's going to be a matter of how much you want to spend, because you can pack them pretty close together. But aside from that, what inspiration do you have to share around design?
Emma Erler 21:08
Well, I am not a landscape designer by trade. But certainly one of the things that I like the look of most is when you have large sweeps or patches of the same plant or in this case of the same bulb, same variety, same species, all growing together. I think it has a lot of visual impact when you do it that way; when you have a whole sweep of the same yellow daffodil or the the same purple crocus as opposed to doing a mix where you have a whole bunch of different colors mixed together or a whole bunch of different bulb species all mixed together. I think that sometimes can be done to nice effect, but it's hard to do and have it look really nice. Some of the bulb companies do sell bulb mixes that are made just for that, for mixing different species together. But when I'm planting myself, more often than not I'm just choosing one particular type of bulb and planting a whole bunch of it in a particular area, planted pretty close to each other. I might even do different layers of bulbs depending on the height of them and their spreads. It might be nice along the walkway to have something short like the chinodoxa or a grape hyacinth or snowdrops where you can see them really easily. Then a little bit further away you might have miniature daffodil, or you might do some some hyacinth, Spanish bluebells, something like that. Then in the hind ground behind you, where you have a bunch of height, that might be the spot where you put your taller daffodils; where you put your alliums and some of the bigger stuff there. That's kind of my thinking. Again, this is all subjective. One thought too, and this just comes from experience, I try to plant my bulbs in spots where I have perennials, not where I'm planning on putting my annuals in. And the reason for that is it's kind of a pain to try to plant your annuals around your bulb foliage before it goes dormant. I've ended up having to kind of tie the foliage together to plant annuals in amongst bulbs that haven't fully gone past and it doesn't look good for a while. So I I leave those spots for annuals free and I put my bulbs in kind of interspersed among the existing perennials.
Nate Bernitz 23:41
Emma, are there any native bulbs or bulbs that you'd say provide more environmental benefits?
Emma Erler 23:49
Yeah, totally! A lot of the bulbs that we grow are going to provide good forage for early bees that are out, but they're not native - whatever you know, that means to you. Perhaps they're not quite as good a forage as some of the native species. All the bulbs I've recommended, don't really tend to be an invasive threat. So I'm not concerned about that. But if you are trying to plant something that's going to kind of perfectly align with native pollinators coming out with plants that they're more accustomed to or adapted with, you have some options. Only a few I would say are truly native to New Hampshire. There's a few that are a stretch that I'll mention that are still quite nice. Certainly one really nice one is rue anemone, thalictrum thalictroides, and that is a native New Hampshire wildflower that's in the Buttercup family. If you tend to find yourself walking in rich woodlands, you've probably seen this really beautiful little white flower in the spring, above this really delicate divided foliage. That's one I would definitely look into. Another nice one is jack-in-the-pulpit, perhaps not quite as showy as some of the other bulbs that we've been talking about, but still a really nice spring bloomer. That one's not going to be attractive to bees as much. You'll probably get some flies and beetles checking it out, and it's just an interesting plant. Another one that actually does really well in my garden is bloodroot, sanguinaria canadensis, and this is a fairly common native plant that grows in deciduous New Hampshire forests on floodplains, typically. It has kind of a whitish-pink, daisy-like flower with a yellow center on flowers that close up at night, which is kind of cute. Then they open again, come the morning, and I always see bees visiting the ones I have, so that's a nice one. Then if we're stretching our definition of native, I would definitely recommend planting some Mayapple, podophyllum peltatum, which is a rhizomatous perennial that typically grows about a foot tall and has these neat umbrella-shaped leaves, and actually produces edible fruit that some people use for jams and jellies. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Virginia bluebells. They don't grow wild in New Hampshire, but where they do in the Midwest, they are absolutely striking. They form this really beautiful spoon- shaped foliage, and clusters of drooping bell-shaped flowers that often kind of start out up a pinkish hue and age to blue. They're gorgeous, worth planting, it maybe doesn't fit quite into that definition of bulb, but you find them in bulb catalogs, certainly.
Nate Bernitz 26:53
A lot of those natives that you were just talking about, I assume those are pretty tolerant of some degree of shade? Whereas a lot of the more classic bulbs that we think about require full sun, generally, right?
Emma Erler 27:08
Well, the big thing when you're planting bulbs is looking at what type of shade they're going to get. All of those natives that I just mentioned are usually associated with deciduous woodlands - so in areas with trees that lose their leaves in the wintertime. When those bulbs are coming up and blooming is before the trees are fully leafed out, so they get plenty of sunlight when they need it in the early spring, and then they die down once the trees are fully leafed out. And the same actually can be said for a lot of the non-native bulbs from Europe typically or from the Middle East that we plant. If you put them under a deciduous tree, let's say a maple or an oak, they're fine in the spring as long as they bloom early. But you wouldn't want to plant them underneath let's say a hemlock or a pine where they're going to be getting shade right through the spring.
Nate Bernitz 28:02
Okay, that really important, I think, even from that design perspective, honing in on some of those deciduous shade trees in your landscape that might not be good for planting some things under. But for bulbs which bloom so early in the season, it sounds like a really great option for those spots.
Emma Erler 28:26
Absolutely, and that's the important thing, too. Bulbs bloom across different times of the season. So choosing bulbs to go under trees that bloom in March and April would be ideal for underneath trees. Then for those that aren't going to bloom until late April or maybe even May, those probably should be in a full sun location in your garden.
Nate Bernitz 28:54
Emma we did an episode a while back on gardening and landscaping and tough spots and situations. So I want to ask about a couple of those tough spots and whether some bulbs might be appropriate. I was thinking about particularly exposed sites, areas that maybe get a lot of wind, for example. And then low-lying sites that may have some excess moisture at times. Are there any bulbs that can do well under conifers, or are none of them going to be suitable?
Emma Erler 29:29
Well, what I would say to that is a lot of bulbs will be perfectly fine if they're in more exposed areas as you say. If you are going to put them in a spot where there's going to be a lot of wind exposure or cold exposure, I would probably be opting for things that are more than hardy enough for your area. Most daffodils are going to do perfectly fine and a majority are hardy to zone three, so you should be able to grow them really throughout New Hampshire. But you might struggle with something like a hyacinth in that spot, a plant that is technically hardy to zone four, but tends to do a bit better in zone five. But winter wind shouldn't be too much of an issue for the majority of these because they're not going to start sprouting until after the snow is gone and the soil has started to warm up in the spring. Planting in low lying areas, that's a little bit trickier. Pretty much any species of plant that we're calling a bulb prefers a well drained soil - the vast majority do. That means a soil that drains pretty freely after a rainstorm, it holds moisture, but it's not soggy. You really don't want to put too many species in soggy soils, because they're they're just going to rot. They're really not adapted to that. A lot of the species that we like best, some of the tulips and daffodils, are adapted to grow on rocky slopes, and that swampy area of your lawn does not apply. There are, however, a few species you could get away with in that sort of scenario. One I already mentioned was the jack-in-the-pulpit. If you find those growing in the wild, they tend to be in lower kind of swampy areas. I don't know how a whole display of jack in the pulpit would appear in the garden, but they should be able to tolerate that kind of growing condition. And you might be able to get away with trout lilies in that sort of spot, too. They wouldn't like constantly standing water, but it's another species that you find in flood plains. So they would probably do okay. in a lower lying area.
Nate Bernitz 31:32
Do bulbs really have soil requirements that would necessitate getting a soil test? Are they generally going to tolerate New Hampshire soils as they are, on that on the pretty acidic side, for example?
Emma Erler 31:46
Some species will, although I would say that the majority are going to probably prefer the soil pH to be more like that of what you want for your average garden, somewhere between six and seven. If you are just planting natives, you might be able to get away with a more acidic soil. But I should note that some of these species like the bloodroot, for example, or another one I didn't mention dutchman's breeches, which is related to bleeding heart - those plants tend to show up in soils that are a bit sweeter. They're more on the alkaline side, which is why you don't find them everywhere in New Hampshire, you find them in little pockets here and there where the soil is just a bit different. In general, yeah, it's probably worth having your soil tested just to make sure your pH is at least appropriate for the species you're growing. And that's only going to be a benefit to the rest of your lawn and garden too
Nate Bernitz 32:42
Really quick, I don't think we need to go through a step-by-step on how to plant bulbs. But are there any common mistakes you see gardeners make in planting bulbs?
Emma Erler 32:51
Well, I mean, kind of the classic is planting bulbs upside down, right? If you can, try to identify where the roots are on that bulb, and plant pointy end up, roots down. A tip I was given a long time ago that I've really found helpful is that if you're not sure which end is the top, which is the bottom, plant the bulb on its side, because that way, it's gonna have a much easier time growing up. Sometimes if they're planted totally upside down and if they're planted too deeply, they might not do anything at all. So that's something to think about. Planting too deeply, too, is potentially an issue. I have planted a lot of bulbs on the more shallow side, and they're totally fine. What actually happens over time is that a lot of these species will end up kind of pulling themselves down further into the soil. You might have found this if you ever planted a tulip. Then maybe years later it hasn't bloomed in a while and you want to dig it up. And it seems like you can't reach the bulb, it's so deep in the soil. So I I would err on the side of being a bit too shallow as opposed to too deep.
Nate Bernitz 34:05
And then of course, along with planting comes that age-old conversation and debate about what to put in that planting hole.
Emma Erler 34:14
Yes. The conventional wisdom is to throw some phosphorus in the hole with that bulb, or at least some sort of fertilizer like a bone meal. That's often what's recommended to put in the soil with the bulb up. I typically don't really bother to fertilize bulbs the first year they go in. The reason for that is that the bulb already has all of the nutrients it needs to grow the next year into flower. What's more important is actually fertilizing after that bulb has finished flowering so that it gets the nutrients it needs to recharge for the following season. And the bone meal. I mean there's a couple of thoughts here. Some people think that it might actually attract nuisance wildlife. So if you're planting something like tulips, that would be a no-go. Where animals already enjoy those.
Nate Bernitz 35:07
Right, as if the animals need any help finding them.
Emma Erler 35:10
Right, exactly. The other thought there is that most garden soils in New Hampshire are already really high in phosphorus. So there's really no need to add the bone meal in there and give the bulbs extra phosphorus. They have plenty.
Nate Bernitz 35:24
I was looking back at a program we did last year and we got a question about whether you should be putting a moth ball in the bulbs which you gave a resounding no to. We got questions about crushed marble and various types of repellents. People want to pack these planting halls with all kinds of things, and it sounds like you're more of a fan of going au naturel.
Emma Erler 35:51
I am. I guess there would be a couple of things I would say to that. If you have some really highly valuable bulbs that you don't want an animal to eat, it might be worthwhile to build a little cage for it that you put the bulb inside of when you plant.
Nate Bernitz 36:07
Like a hardware cloth-type enclosure?
Emma Erler 36:09
Exactly, and planting the bulb inside of that. So a chipmunk or a vole or maybe even a deer doesn't get it. You could also try some repellents. I have had some luck with, if I'm fertilizing other plants in the area anyways, had some luck with some of the smelly organic fertilizers keeping some wildlife away. But not complete luck with that. You might have better results with some of these really potent smelly products that people use to keep deer away and keep rabbits away. But it's going to be kind of wretched out in your yard while that's going on. And there's not a whole lot you can do once you get snow cover anyways. So that exclusion method with the hardware cloth is your best bet. And if wildlife is just really getting your goat, then I would opt for planting wildlife resistant species and try to get away from the ones that just keep getting eaten.
Nate Bernitz 37:14
With that hardware cloth., how do you ensure that the bulb can actually get its foliage through?
Emma Erler 37:20
Well, I would be aiming to use a hardware cloth that has a fairly large gauge that leaves could poke through. So something like a half-inch gauge, I think would be appropriate, so half-inch mesh. I wouldn't go smaller than that, because it might be hard for the foliage to get out. I wouldn't go larger than that, probably. You could maybe get away with an inch. But if it starts getting too big, a lot of these wildlife species that you're trying to keep out will be able to squeeze through that mesh. A half inch is what I've used before, and that's worked out all right. It is a big pain though. As much as I love things like tulips, I'm just, I don't know, I'm not sure I love them enough to deal with battling wildlife over them.
Nate Bernitz 38:06
Yeah, I hear you. And definitely the cost of developing a cage enclosure for each and every bulb in large mass plantings can definitely get up there.
Emma Erler 38:19
You could make a larger cage that holds several bulbs, too. So you could have your whole planting in this larger enclosure. And that's a headache down the line if you ever need to get in there and divide since they have this wire mesh contraption buried in the soil. But it's absolutely what some people have to do if they must have tulips or something similar.
Nate Bernitz 38:43
Well let's talk about division for a second. What time of year would you do that? Are there certain bulbs that you just know hey, I'm gonna have to divide these on a semi regular basis and how do you do it?
Emma Erler 38:55
The species I usually think about needing to divide is daffodils because they they tend to form a lot of what are called daughter bulbs, little baby bulbs that form off of the original bulb. And when these get really crowded, you'll often see just fewer and fewer flowers developing over the years, because there's just not enough room for all of these bulbs packed closely together. So when that happens, when you think you need to divide, I usually try to let the bulbs live out their their normal life as much as I can. I will note where they're flowering and I'll usually put a stake in the ground where they're located or generally located and let the foliage go naturally dormant. Once that foliage has died down and the bulbs have gone dormant, I'll go in with a digging fork and I will try to lift those bulbs up, divide them up, maybe break apart clusters if there's a whole bunch stuck together, and just plant them again.
Nate Bernitz 40:03
So that's in the fall?
Emma Erler 40:06
Well, it could be in the fall. I've done it in the summer before too. That should be okay. You haven't messed up their their rhythm, if you will, if you're doing it out in the field like that.
Nate Bernitz 40:20
Okay. Got it.
Emma Erler 40:23
Fall would be ideal, but it's up to you whether you want to look at a stake in the garden all year, marking where your bulbs are.
Nate Bernitz 40:30
Then for fertilization, we're fertilizing after bloom, right?
Emma Erler 40:36
We are. We'll fertilize after the bulbs have finished blooming - right as they're starting to peter out, but they've still got their healthy foliage. Because that's when that bulb is going to be putting on, or really getting most of its energy on and storing that away for next season's bloom.
Nate Bernitz 40:58
And given that bulbs are planted in the fall, is that when you would also transplant bulbs?
Emma Erler 41:05
Yeah, that would be ideal. If you know exactly where they're located, and if you've staked them and you know where they are, yeah, if you want to dig them up and move them in the fall, that would be perfect.
Nate Bernitz 41:17
Great. I want to move on, I think, to talking about garlic for a couple of minutes. Just like bulbs, we're in this time of year, here in September, where people are rushing out to get their garlic if they haven't already. I know in my case, maybe you're in the same situation, we've already placed our order for garlic, but we haven't received it yet. Because a lot of these reputable seed companies will send you these fall bulbs at an appropriate time for planting so you don't have to hold on to them for a while, and you're getting them in the ground in peak condition. Would you say that timing considerations for garlic and spring blooming ornamental bulbs are roughly the same?
Emma Erler 42:01
I would. Once you are working on your spring blooming bulbs, you should be thinking it's time to get the garlic in the ground too. Garlic is kind of the same and that you don't want it to sprout in the fall. That's probably not going to hurt it too much, you'll still have a good crop the next season, but it's not ideal. You'd be waiting until October November to plant. As long as the ground isn't frozen yet, you should still be able to plant. If you want that little bit of establishment on root growth before you hit the winter months, you probably want six to eight weeks or so until the ground is frozen. And that usually doesn't happen until at least late November or December, depending on where you are in the state. So you have got a little bit of time for those to become established. All that being said, though, I haven't planted garlic in December, but I have planted spring blooming bulbs in December and they've they've still been alright. I would be aiming for October or November - probably November in the southern part of the state and October in the northern part of the state.
Nate Bernitz 43:15
Yep. And with garlic it is worth considering fertilizing in the fall, right?
Emma Erler 43:22
It is, it's worth fertilizing. The difference with garlic too, and you're putting that in is that you've got a very, very small little clove that you're putting in the ground. And you need that to grow into a full size bulb to harvest early in the summer the following season. So you probably are gonna want to apply some nitrogen at least before planting. And again, the ideal here is that you'll have your soil tested so that you're applying just the nutrients you'd need. Chances are good that your garlic is not going to need any phosphorus. But if if you don't know at all a balanced fertilizer would would probably be best. So you could go organic, something like 3-4-3, or you could go with just the old standby 10-10-10 or 10-0-10.
Nate Bernitz 44:20
Gotcha. What about variety selection with garlic? That's pretty important in northern New England. People typically grow those hardneck varieties, right?
Emma Erler 44:32
They do. The hardneck varieties tend to be a little bit more cold hardy, which is a good thing for Northern New England. And I really like hardneck garlic. A lot of times what you get at the store is softneck garlic, so it might be that if you're only familiar with supermarket garlic, that's probably all you've ever had. But there's there's a bunch of really nice hardneck varieties you can grow, too. The difference, and I don't do this, this is my understanding anyways, is if you want to braid your garlic, you need to have softneck garlic.
Nate Bernitz 45:04
Say a little bit more about that. What do you mean by braiding it?
Emma Erler 45:07
For storage, some people like to braid the actual foliage of a garlic together so that you have this really (and people do this with onions too) this really attractive braid that you can hang down that has garlic cloves along it with the foliage all attached. I picture it as being this kind of pastoral European thing that people might do. Braid it together and hang it from the rafters to let it cure. Then you have that garlic ready to go. So if you're into that, softneck garlic your thing. But if not, that's okay too. With variety selection, it's remarkable. There are a ton of different garlic varieties out there. Some of the ones that did well in trials in New Hampshire, or at least in northern New England were ones like music, German extra hardy, and Russian red. But there are others out there too, that you can totally experiment with. Garlic connoisseurs will often grow dozens of varieties just so they have a slightly different garlic for different culinary purposes.
Nate Bernitz 46:23
This year was a little bit of a challenging summer for garlic harvest because July was so wet. People typically try to harvest garlic when the soil is dry which leads nicely into that drying and curing process. What did you hear from folks this year, if anything, and what were you recommending? To harvest when the soil is as dry as possible? Or, I guess there's only so much you can do, right?
Emma Erler 47:00
To be honest with you, I didn't hear too much on that front. But the ideal would be to try to harvest when the when the soil is dry and the sun is out, just because that garlic is going to be less likely to rot when you've got it out of the soil. Because all these things like garlic, onions, even carrots, these root vegetables when you pull them out - if you're taking them out of the ground, it's really wet and soggy, and you injure that bulb or root at all, it's an entry point for fungi and bacteria. A wet environment is perfect for that to proliferate. So the drier it can be, the better. Just do the best you can. If you did have to harvest while things were wet, you would just want to try to get those those garlic bulbs into an area that's as dry as possible as quickly as possible. So something like a greenhouse would probably be perfect, if you had that. And if not, then a really warm, sunny window where things are going to dry quickly. Probably during this drying process doing some rotation too so not just letting them sit in one spot.
Nate Bernitz 48:15
Another question folks have in the fall, in addition to planting timing and fertilization, is mulching - specifically what type of material is appropriate. Unlike say in a bulb setting, garlic is an edible crop and my thinking is to mulch with the type of mulch that you would use in a vegetable garden. Things like straw, which is nice because the garlic is able to push through that material pretty easily in the spring. You don't want to go with something too heavy, like bark mulch, or something that the garlic might struggle to get through. What are your thoughts on that?
Emma Erler 49:00
I think I'd be thinking along the same lines Nate, or I'd be using straw if I could get my hands on it because that's a wonderful mulch for the vegetable garden. I wouldn't be opposed to using grass clippings either though, if I had a bunch of those that hadn't been treated with herbicides, or even some shredded leaves would potentially work well in the garden. If you have a bunch of deciduous trees and the means to use those leaves as mulch, that would be good. The real purpose of that mulch over the garlic is just to buffer the soil temperature a little bit, to keep that soil from heaving over the winter months and moving that garlic around in the soil or pushing it up and out of the soil. And also keeping the soil a little bit mild, having the soil temperature be a little bit milder. If you put mulch on too soon, though, it might cause the garlic to sprout. So you do want to wait to do that until the ground has started to freeze and then you can put that mulch on. You don't want to do it immediately after planting unless you're planting really late. And that can just stay on during or throughout the spring, right up through harvest. In the spring, hopefully that mulch is helping suppress weeds
Nate Bernitz 50:14
With in-ground gardening, the soil is going to be pretty insulated. We know that soil temperature doesn't change as much and it doesn't change as rapidly as air temperature, of course. But an interesting question I got earlier this year was about growing garlic and raised beds and whether there was a concern about garlic being placed or planted rather too close to the edge and potentially having issues with freezing. Just because again, unlike in an in-ground situation, soil that's close to the edge of a raised bed with just a thin piece of wood in between it is going to have more temperature variation. One of the reasons people like growing annual crops in raised beds is because they warm up quicker. But it also means on the on the inverse, that there'll be a concern about it getting too cold over the winter. I spoke with Becky Seidman about that really briefly and what I what I recall her saying, and she's someone that I don't think has grown garlic in raised beds, but her thinking was to make sure that there is some space between the edge and the garlic. We recommend 6 x 6 spacing for garlic as a general proposition. So having at least six inches of space from the edge. Probably a safer approach would be just planting a single row down the middle of a thin raised bed, or potentially two rows for a thicker raised bed. You probably do want some some space to prevent those issues you were just talking about associated with frost.
Emma Erler 52:02
I was kind of thinking the same thing. I imagine it depends on on where you're located, too. If you're in a milder part of the state, in the southern New Hampshire seacoast, you're probably going to be able to get away with more than you'll be able to up in Coos county with your raised beds. A little bit of experimentation never hurts and definitely choosing a hardy variety in this case would be helpful, I would imagine.
Nate Bernitz 52:28
Yeah, definitely. Going back to this time of year for harvesting, curing, saving that garlic, what do you need to do to take some of the garlic that you have harvested this year and get it ready to plant again?
Emma Erler 52:45
Hopefully the garlic that you saved if you're growing seed garlic is still in good condition. Over the course of the season, you've stored it in a cool dry place and it hasn't started sprouting or anything yet. To get it ready, there's not a whole lot you need to do. But you will need to break apart the individual cloves. When you plant garlic, what you're planting is just an individual clove, which if all goes well is going to form a new head of garlic the following season. So you'll probably want to carefully you know break those heads apart so that you have your individual cloves for planting. I would use the biggest cloves to put in the ground. Really small ones, you could probably just set aside and use those in cooking because they're not going to grow into such a good crop. There are special tools just for breaking apart garlic heads. But if you're just planting a few plants here and there, you can probably just do this by hand, no problem at all.
Nate Bernitz 53:44
Emma, people will likewise, thinking about planting garlic in the fall, ask about planting some similar vegetables in the fall, namely onions and shallots. What's your take on whether onions and shallots can be planted in the fall, or whether you should be waiting until spring for those?
Emma Erler 54:06
I think they can be planted in certain scenarios. If you're a person who has a high tunnel, where there's going to be some protection from winter cold, that might work. Becky Seidman did some research on overwintering onions in New Hampshire in just that - in high tunnels. I probably wouldn't try it with just an in-ground bed out in the garden. I suspect that a lot of those bulbs or seed; it's not going to survive. Or if it does, that it's going to bolt really early. Onions need a cold period in order to bloom. If you've you've planted little sets, let's say out in your garden in the fall, and then they go through the winter and they survive, when spring comes they will initiate a flower bud. And when onions flower, the bulb quality degrades really quickly. They get all mushy, as all that energy has gone into flower production, and they're no longer quality. Yeah, bolting like that's really common with overwintered onions. So it's kind of tricky. I don't think it's worth it. I think you're better off just growing them during the normal growing season, planting them in the spring and then having hopefully enough set aside that you get through the winter until you can grow another crop again.
Nate Bernitz 55:37
Let's wrap up with a few minutes on fall lawn care. Now with lawns, the reason I think it's important to talk about a little bit is because basically everyone has one, whether you're a lawn person and actually put work and effort into it, or it's just there. Either way, it's something that most if not all of us have, to some extent or another. And my thinking is, if you're ever going to really think about your lawn, the fall is probably the time to do it. One issue that we often run into with our lawns, and this is really simple, is what to do with the leaves that fall on it. That's something that literally everyone has to deal with. We we want to think about our mowing, because if you have a lawn, you have to mow it, at least to some extent. Over the summer, we did we tend to advise, Emma, to keep your mower deck somewhat high over the summer with lack of rain, but then fall comes and we are getting more rain. And we're thinking about preparing that grass for winter. So I'm curious what your take is on whether you want to lower that mower deck in the fall? Then we can we can talk a little bit about fertilization and seeding too. But let's start with some of those basics.
Emma Erler 56:58
Well, to start with the mower, I would be inclined to still keep the mowing height fairly high. The reason I say that is because the length of grass roots tends to correspond with the length of the shoot above ground and fall tends to be the best time to really put on a lot of root growth for grasses. So I want to keep as much photosynthetic tissue as I possibly can above ground while grasses are really starting to thrive again in the fall so that they're growing quite a bit of roots. When it starts to get really cold and you're starting to think about putting the lawnmower away, you might drop the deck to do one final mow. I probably wouldn't drop it below two, two and a half inches, I think that's excessive. But you could do your final mow a little bit lower. Just tidy things up a little bit more and leave plenty of room for for spring growth. At that point too, once it starts to get really cold and we're having frost and everything then the grass is really going to slow down its growth, particularly once the soil temperature drops below 40 degrees. With leaves on the line, that's always an issue that we all have to deal with. If you are intent on having a nice lawn, you do need to get the leaves off of the lawn. Leaving full, complete leaves is going to smother the grass and/or cause some issues with mold. So getting the leaves up is one option. If you want to use those leaves as compost in your gardens or as mulch, then completely removing them from the lawn is great. If you're looking for a bit more of a lazy man's approach, which works pretty well for the lawn. If you have a mulching mower, just going over those leaves with the lawn mower a bunch of times and just kind of raking them into the soil a little bit or into the lawn, often works pretty well. If there aren't too many weeds in your lawn, you might be able to go over those leaves with the mower and then rake them up and put them into your perennial beds or use a leaf blower to blow them into your perennial beds. I've done both before. You might get a few more weeds in the garden if you're doing that, but you sure saved yourself a lot of time with the leaf removal and added some mulch, too, so I think that's a good option as well. But you just can't leave them in their natural state on the lawn if you're still hoping to have a lawn.
Nate Bernitz 59:32
Gotcha. That all makes sense. I think for me, looking for the the least amount of work possible for the best results is kind of the idea. Doing some sort of mulching of leaves in place makes a lot of sense in that regard. And then there might be some extra that you can use as that high quality mulch for the gardens. It makes a lot of sense.
Emma Erler 59:58
Absolutely. When I've had a lot of leaves before I'll rake them into kind of wind rows, and then go over them with the lawn mower.
Nate Bernitz 1:00:04
Nice. Yeah, that makes sense. You do want to get little piles because you don't want to set your mower deck that low, and the way the mulching mowers work, you still need those blades to actually be able to get at what you want to mulch. So you got to raise them up a little bit. And like you said, [you should] probably make a few different passes to really get the job done. Something that people like to do in the fall is aeration. What's your take on that as a fall activity?
Emma Erler 1:00:39
I think fall is a good time to aerate. It might be a little bit hard to do in the spring, sometimes when the soil is just thawing out and things are kind of squishy. But the fall is definitely good. That's when grass is putting on a lot of growth. Combining with that aeration, it can be nice to top-dress with compost, and then aerate to work some more organic matter into the soil. I think that's ideal. If your lawn needs even further renovation, it's often good to mix aeration with overseeding.
Nate Bernitz 1:01:15
Let's talk a little bit about that. Early fall is what I understand to be really the best time to do that because we have really good weather conditions, we're getting a good amount of moisture, it's still warm and the soil is still warm, but it's not blazing hot. Perhaps most importantly, as a differentiator to spring, there's less weed pressure. So your grass is going to have a little bit less competition in getting established. So that's really nice. What is your take on overseeding? Is that something that people should consider doing on a semi-regular basis? Is that really just something to focus on? Say, in the wake of last year's extreme drought, people are probably dealing with quite a bit of dead spots in their lawn where they really are in need of renovation, and they're needing to actually rake that dead grass away and and get some new seed in there. Do you need to fertilize when you overseed or can it be as simple as just kind of walking around and tossing some grass seed out in the lawn and calling it a day?
Emma Erler 1:02:26
Well the ideal here, of course, is to fertilize and lime as you're overseeding. I think for a lot of us we're looking at putting down some fall fertilizer anyways, knowing that that's really a good time for grass to put on a bunch of growth and particularly root growth. Spring and fall tend to be the best times - the most bang for your buck if you're going to fertilize. With the overseeding itself, that's going to be on an as-needed basis. If you have a really thick, lush lawn, if you're sprinkling grass seed over top of that, most of it's probably not going to germinate and you're just wasting money. But if you do have some areas that were very weedy that were thin, like in my lawn there's some areas that have gotten very weedy, some spots where there's a lot of moss coming in between the grass. I'm going to do my best, probably just by hand, to get those weeds out, to rake the moss up. I'm going to get my lime down, I'm going to get my fertilizer down, and then I'm going to overseed over the existing grass that's there and in some patches that are just totally bare. And if all goes well and I keep up with my irrigation through the fall (if we don't get rain), I should get some good growth. So I'm planning to do this within the next week or two. I should get some good growth in the latter half of September, October, maybe even a little bit into November, up until it starts to get really cold and that ground starts to freeze.
Nate Bernitz 1:04:02
I know that it's really important anytime you're doing any kind of direct seeding to get what we call a good seed-to-soil contact. If you are overseeding into a part of the lawn where it's kind of bare but there's still a hard mat of roots and vegetation on top, I'm thinking that you're not going to get the best seed-to-soil contact. So what are your thoughts on what to do both before you put down the seed and after you put down the seed to to make sure that you're you are getting adequate seed-to soil-contacts so you'll get good germination?
Emma Erler 1:04:41
You'll definitely want to rake and maybe even thatch that area, so if you have a thatch rake to get in there and rake up all the loose, dead grass material that's on the soil. That's going to be a good thing to do. If you don't have a thatch rake, even just a good solid raking with a metal leaf rake will do a pretty good job of clearing as much organic matter out as possible and exposing the bare soil. And then when you've done that, and you've - you should do that first before you apply your lime or fertilizer, then you can overseed. And if it's an area where there's already existing grass, you probably don't need to be getting a lawn roller out, but just using the backside of your rake to gently press that seed into the soil will probably be enough.
Nate Bernitz 1:05:31
All right, last thing, let's talk a little bit more specifically about fertilizer and grass seed selection. In the fall, of course, some folks are using these multi-step programs where there is a specific fertilizer for that fall period. But let's say you're not doing that and you are just looking to select a fertilizer to use that that's appropriate this time of year. What are you looking for? And likewise, with that potentially complimentary overseeding? What's your general advice for folks, without knowing their very specific site and soil conditions? What general advice do you have for for grass selection in northern New England?
Emma Erler 1:06:13
Oh, for grass selection? Well, in New England, we really can only grow the cool season grasses. So that excludes things like Zoysia grass, we're still too cold, to be able to grow that, at least in northern New England. So that leaves you really with a selection of a few species. And within those species, a bunch of different varieties. The grass that real lawn afficianados lust over is Kentucky Bluegrass, because it forms a nice, deep green, dense, consistent mat across the soil. It does have higher nitrogen requirements, though, and it does need a fair amount of water irrigation. So that's for the real high intensity line, you might go with a Kentucky Bluegrass lawn. If you have - perhaps you're not looking for that perfect lawn standard, you probably want a nice mix of grasses. For that you're pretty much always going to have some Kentucky Bluegrass in the mix, but you're probably going to have more perennial rye mixed in as well as fescue. The fine fescues and even tall fescues tend to be a bit more drought tolerant and have lower fertility needs. So they're appropriate for a lot of people that have sandier soil and in direct sun, no irrigation system, and they want to be lighter on the fertilizer. So fescue mixes have gotten pretty popular. Something else that's gaining popularity too is adding white clover to your grass seed mix, because that does fix its own nitrogen and can cut down on the amount of nutrients you need to add to your lawn. If you know all of this seems kind of overwhelming, the good thing is that a lot of grass seed packaging is labeled to try to help you out, particularly at retail. So if you have a shady area, you want to buy a grass seed mix for shade. If you are looking for something that's more drought tolerant, chances are you're going to be able to find a package that that says that on there, or just know that some of the the fescue blends tend to be good in that scenario. For fertilizer, again we always come back to it, soil testing is going to be ideal. When I'm fertilizing a lawn, I don't really change up the fertilizer I'm using for the season, I use the same one all year round. It's probably safe to assume that you don't need to add phosphorus to your lawn, just based on all the soil test results I see. But if you really don't know, you might just get a balanced fertilizer that has roughly equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. So if you find those three numbers on the fertilizer bag, you want those three to be, you know, relatively equal. The ideal here too is to use a slow-release formulation. I would recommend something that has at least 50% slow release nitrogen, and it will say that on the label on the back of the package. That just means that the nutrients, that nitrogen, is going to be released slowly by the products so that you're going to have fertilizer available to the plant over a longer period of time. And you're less likely to be polluting when you do that. Definitely what you'll want to make sure is that the product you're using has a good amount of potassium because our soils pretty much always need potassium and potassium is critically important for a healthy lawn.
Nate Bernitz 1:09:44
Emma, we'll get to your feature plant for this episode in just a minute. But I want to thank our listeners for giving us some really good feedback and suggestions recently on the podcast. Emma and I have been listening listening to everything you have to say. We've been putting together some ideas for a few last episodes here in the fall before we take a break between Season One and Season Two of the Granite State Gardening podcast. I have heard from folks that you'd like us to do an episode that that talks about planting and transplanting perennials, trees and shrubs. So we're gonna line that up for you. We've gotten some interest certainly in fall vegetable gardening, cover crops, those sorts of topics. We recognize it's a little bit late to give you a primer on that topic before you actually go and do it. But if you all would still find that useful to cover even if it's not ahead of fall vegetable gardening, we'd be happy to do that for you. [We're] certainly happy to get this topic out for you on the fall planted bulbs and lawns. We've gotten some feedback that folks would like us to do a podcast on what's wrong with my tree and small property management, and we'd be happy to do that for you as well. Native plants, emerging invasive threats, are some things we've heard from folks. So this is all to say we'd like to hear from you and continue to hear from you on what topics would really resonate, whether there's anything that you'd like to see us do this fall. Just know and understand that we have a lot of really exciting ideas for early spring/late winter as well. We're gonna plan to wrap up Season One in the beginning of November and then reconvene in February to bring you more guests, including from outside of Cooperative Extension, and more topics. So thank you for listening, thank you for sharing your thoughts, questions and suggestions with us, and Emma, do you want to launch into this episode's featured plant?
Emma Erler 1:12:15
One of my favorite bulbs is Chinodoxa, which is also known as glory of the snow. Chinodoxa luciliae. Chinodoxa is a short-statured spring bulb that's a member of the asparagus family. It's native to mountainsides in western Turkey, and it's one of the first bulbs to bloom in the spring, often emerging through the last of the snow, hence its common name glory of the snow. Chinodoxa is hardy to zone three and it will grow happily in well-drained soils and full sun to part shade. Chinodoxa typically only grows about three to six inches tall, and it has narrow strap-like leaves and flower stocks that feature two to three star-like, lilac blue flowers, with white centers that have six petals. It provides late winter to early spring color in the garden, and I find that it works really well in rock gardens, woodland areas, lawns or areas beneath deciduous trees. Over time, Chinodoxa will naturalize which means it will spread by seed and bulb offsets to cover a broader area. I love Chinodoxa because it's really beautiful, and it's also resistant to wildlife. If you have issues with voles, or chipmunks or deer in your garden, you can rest assured that they'll usually leave this plant alone.
Nate Bernitz 1:13:40
This episode's closing gardening tip is on food preservation - top of mind for many gardeners as summer transitions to fall. But it's important to do safely because improperly home-canned vegetables are actually the most common cause of botulism in the United States. This can occur from not following instructions, not using tested recipes, not using a pressure canner in good working order and with an accurate gauge, and even from just ignoring signs of food spoilage. Proper canning involves food heated or processed in a mason jar at a specific temperature for a certain amount of time to destroy microorganisms and resulting in a vacuum-sealed container that can be safely stored at room temperature. Besides canning, freezing and drying are other great food preservation plans. Freezing especially is a great place to start and can be used for vegetables, fruits and meats. Keys for freezing include doing it as quickly as possible and using packaging specifically recommended for freezing. With drying, you don't need a food dehydrator, but it certainly can come in handy. My go-to source for up-to-date research base information is the National Center for Home Food Preservation. We'll throw the link to their website in the show notes. And that's your closing gardening tip. Before we go, I want to again plug our upcoming workshop on using manure in the garden. That's on September 25th in Durham at Wagon Hill community garden. We still have a few spots left and I hope you'll save yours. And trust me, it'll be a lot more fun and interesting than it might sound. We've got the link to that in the show notes along with some great resources on growing bulbs and garlic. And like I mentioned at the top, our next episode will focus on overwintering garden vegetables, growing and harvesting into winter, putting the garden to bed and more. Until then keep on planting bulbs Granite State gardeners! I'll talk with you soon.
Granite State Gardening is a production of University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, an equal opportunity educator and employer. Views expressed on this podcast are not necessarily those of the University, its trustees, or its volunteers. Inclusion or exclusion of commercial products in this podcast does not imply endorsement. The University of New Hampshire, US Department of Agriculture and New Hampshire Counties cooperate to provide extension programming in the Granite State. Learn more at extension.unh.edu.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai. Transcript edited by Rebecca Dube.