By Marlene Heemstra
November’s birth flower is the Chrysanthemum, a beautiful perennial and a favorite of many gardeners. Chrysos is Greek for gold, and although mums can be found in a variety of colors, their wild ancestors were indeed a fine golden-yellow hue.
Growing Conditions for Garden Mums
Light: Full early sun for at least 5-6 hours daily
Location: Chrysanthemums are susceptible to mildew, so keeping the plants dry is a priority. They need plenty of air circulation, water drainage, and morning sun to dry the dew on the leaves. Chrysanthemums blooming occur in response to shortening days and longer nights, so avoid planting near streetlights or other nighttime light sources.
Soil Requirements: Fertile, well- drained, sandy or loamy soil with ph around 6.5
Fertilization: Chrysanthemums are pretty tough and can thrive on their own, but they benefit from light and frequent feeding with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.
They can really be planted any time, though, as long as the roots have at least 6 weeks to become established before extremes of either hot or freezing weather.
Dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball, and incorporate organic matter such as compost or peat to help with drainage. Plant the mums at exactly the same depth as they were in the pot. Try to avoid water collection around the stems. Space plants about 18-24 inches apart.
For larger varieties, install support structures such as stakes or garden fencing, and try not to walk in mum beds to avoid compacting the soil.
Chrysanthemums actually like to be divided. The new clumps grow better than old, crowded ones. After the last spring frost, when shoots are 1-3 inches tall, dig them up carefully by pulling or cutting them apart. Throw away any half-dead or overly woody parts and plant only the healthy divisions. Add a source of phosphorus to the planting hole along with organic matter. Ideally, divide the mums every 3-5 years and relocate them to reduce disease.
There are literally hundreds of types of chrysanthemums with variations in height, spread, color, size of flower, bloom time and type of bloom. There are also hardy mums and non-hardy florist or show mums.
“Cultivators of the earth are the most virtuous and independent citizens.”
That Time Again
By Ann Carter
Cannot believe it …..What happened to summer? The 4th of July arrived and everything quickly progressed right after it. Hopefully, we will have a gorgeous fall, but that means we have to put our fun garden to rest. What a pain. Many of you have done this almost as many years as I, but let me help you remember some of those chores awaiting you.
- Cut, chop, clip and clean. Get rid of old annuals and produce. Cut perennials down to the ground. Don’t forget to stomp a lot of it down. Grand children love this method. Some plants do well with their own foliage keeping them warm. I have been able to winterize some dahlias with this method saving me from digging everything up. However, do remove any diseased foliage and peony foliage and you should discard (not in the compost pile.)
- Remove and discard invasive plants and weeds. (Not into that compost pile.)
- Divide and move perennials. If you have excess, just bring them to a meeting and I know they will be gobbled up. Dig up tender bulbs, dry them on newspaper for a couple of weeks before storing them in sand, sawdust or kitty litter. Then you need to plant new bulbs.
- Add to your beds. Make lasagna as you will be able to plant directly into it come spring with no tilling. Start with newspaper and then if you are lucky enough to collect your grass clippings chop up maple (not oak as they do not decompose) leaves and grass together and spread it over your newsprint. Water thoroughly between each layer. Now, if you have a neighbor with chickens, the poop is great to spread next and usually neighbors and grandchildren are delighted if you want to clean out their coop. More grass and leaves and you are done but keep watering.
- Look to your evergreens and give them a good drink before the hard freeze. If you have planted new ones, you might want to create wind breaks out of burlap so they do not dry out and get winter burn.
- New fruit trees should have their bottom bark wrapped or fenced as the moles, mice, rabbits, etc. find them enticingly delicious.
- Clean your clippers and digging tools and don’t forget the WD-40. It cleans off everything and helps keep the rust at bay. I don’t know how we got along before those 3 technicians at the San Diego Rocket Co. came up with it on their fortieth try. Some of its uses that I love are keeping flies off cows, pigeons off the deck railing and if put on fish lures catches enormous fish. (This last one of course has been outlawed in some states. Their politicians are probably lousy fishermen.) P.S. The main ingredient in DW-40 is fish oil.
- Last but not least, good luck with the deer. I keep reminding myself how gorgeous they are and they were here long before me. I still string fish line, and spread cut up Irish Spring soap and as last resort throw an old blanket over my Holly. My dog has a regular conversation with them every morning at 6AM. They seem to be good friends.
Sooo, enjoy the remainder of the summer and get ready for all those chores. UGH !!!!!!!!!