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A bit of earth Plan – and act – now for the best come spring

  • Published Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, at 2:48 p.m.

The green leaves of the oakleaf hydrangea are starting to burnish burgundy in the encroaching cold, while a thin-leafed euphorbia in a front-porch pot is turning a vivid clear red.

I wish I knew exactly what the name of that annual was. At this time of the waning season I get sad about my annuals dying, and I want to remember what they are so they don’t pass into total oblivion. But the truth of the matter is I like to try new annuals every summer, or new varieties of favorites, and I only buy a few repeat performers. I just hope I remember that my favorite calibrachoa doesn’t seem to find enough sun in my yard to thrive like it should.

I have, however, snapped some photos of the yard for posterity, and for reference if need be. Ward Upham, an Extension associate at K-State, recommends noting where specific vegetables were planted in the ground this year so that you can plant them in different spots next year. This is so that the same diseases don’t come back to get your tomatoes, for example.

Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant are related to one another, and should not be planted in the same area of others from that group next year. Also sharing similarities are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

To state it another way: “Do not plant cabbage where broccoli was the previous year, or tomatoes where the peppers were,” Upham writes.

There is another reason other than disease for rotating vegetables, Upham writes in the Horticulture 2013 newsletter. One is that warm- and cool-season crops have differing depths and densities of root systems, and it’s good to rotate between the types so that the soil is not constantly depleted by the deeper warm-season crops.

Cool-season crops such as cabbage, peas, lettuce and onions have relatively sparse, shallow root systems, and they should be rotated with warm-season crops such as tomatoes, peppers and melons, which have deeper, better developed root systems.

Keep your annuals watered and going for as long as they look good. If you have perennials in pots, consider planting them in the ground now so they will return next year. You can also try keeping perennials in pots; some of them, such as coral bells, will come back fresh next spring.

Also scout out areas for spring-flowering bulbs. I remember dragging my feet last year buying them, and then dragging my feet planting them ... and then the joy I had when they bloomed in the spring.

I grew some dramatic ones – supposedly the world’s largest tulip, Giant Orange Sunset – and a trio of big purple alliums (probably Globemaster; see my previous statement about not remembering plant names). They all got lots of comments, and were well worth the trouble of planting – the bigger the bulb, the deeper it must be planted. I usually end up planting bulbs more shallowly than they should be, because I’m not that strong.

Once the alliums faded in the spring, I was hoping the dried globes would stay around atop their thin stalks all summer, but a good wind storm toppled them.

So here we go again.

I need to beef up my daffodils, so Oct. 19 will be a good day to shop at the Wichita Daffodil Society’s bulb sale at Botanica. That weekend will also be the Kansas Orchid Society’s show and sale at Botanica, both Oct. 19 and 20. That can give you some unusual plants for inside the house.

See the details of the events in the Gardener’s Almanac on Page 2C. They’re joined by many other garden-related happenings, so many that it seems like it’s the second weekend of May rather than October. This is the way to fall.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.

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