As November moves in with winter drizzle it is a good time to scheme, dream and take notes about what grew well and what was a disappointment in the garden.
Tomatoes that failed to ripen before frost should be the first on the “don’t buy again” plant list. Those air brushed photos of ‘Beefy Boy’ tomatoes seen in seed catalogs are difficult to grow in the cool summer area of Western Washington. Certain peppers and large eggplants also need maximum heat and sometimes disappoint home gardeners in our areas.
Make note of the veggies that produced the best in your garden so you’ll know what to buy again in the spring. Leafy greens, peas, beans and summer squash are reliable producers in our area.
This is also a good time to store away the garden tools, sharpen the blades on your mower, and do all the winter maintenance each of your power machines require. Refer to the owner manuals or look up the maintenance requirements on line for specific mowers, blowers and edgers, remembering that many power tools require you to drain the gas tank and add a stabilizer before storing them away for the winter.
Q. My neighbor has a yard that is filled with autumn color. I admired some shrubs with red and gold leaves and she told me there were azaleas. Is this true? Are there azaleas that turn color in the fall? D., Tacoma
A. Yes, there are deciduous azaleas that lose their leaves in the fall but before the foliage falls from the shrub the autumn colors can be spectacular.
The deciduous azaleas also have large, often fragrant spring blooms in saturated colors of deep yellow, intense orange and coral pink. You can find different types of deciduous azaleas at local nurseries. They are also known as Exbury hybrid azaleas or Knap Hill azaleas denoting the places in England where these hybrids were crossed, and native or species azaleas that still grow wild in the United States.
Like all members of the rhododendron family these colorful deciduous azaleas do well in Western Washington landscapes.
Q. I noticed my forsythia plant has sent out a branch that has rooted in the ground a few feet from the main base of my old forsythia plant. My question is can I cut off this rooted shoot and move it and if so when? P.L. Maple Valley
A. Yes, forsythia is a shrub that roots easily and fall is a good time to separate any rooted stems from the mother plant and transplant to a new location.
If you want more starts from an established forsythia plant just chose a branch close to the ground and scrape a dime size section of bark from the stem. Next, force this section of branch into contact with the soil by weighting it down with a rock or pinning it with a “U” shaped section of stiff wire.
Roots will form in the spring and by fall you can cut the newly rooted stem from the mother plant and start yourself a forest of forsythia.