Friday, May 14, 2021

MY GARDEN PATH: Is anything 'bugging' you?

| October 11, 2020 1:00 AM

You know fall has arrived when you're greeted with swarms of tiny blue and white bugs flying everywhere. For such tiny bugs, they have quite a big name: smoky winged ash aphids. These spend most of the year underground, feeding on fir tree roots. Then about the first of October, they develop wings and fly around … in swarms. They are actually looking to mate and lay eggs in ash trees. These little guys are pretty harmless, just a nuisance. The first freeze will kill them off.

So far, knock on wood, no freeze has arrived in our area. The forecast looks good, but things can change and often do. Just a reminder to get ready. Some things to do include:

• Pick any remaining garden produce.

• Finish planting any spring blooming bulbs.

• Collect any desired seeds.

• Bring any houseplants back inside.

• Clean up garden tools and store them inside for the winter.

• Fill your bird feeder with fresh seeds.

• Purchase or make suet to hang out.

• Clean and store hummingbird feeders.

If you've seen a mouse in your yard lately, be sure to set a trap. You don't want him moving indoors with you once cold weather arrives. I had one who was feasting on my bird seed. He's now in “mouse heaven.”

Once again, we are being treated to gorgeous fall color. Everywhere you look, there are trees, shrubs and other plants turning color. We used to think this happened because of the cooler temperatures, but studies show that these changes are triggered by shortened day length.

Speaking of daylight, I just noticed on the calendar that daylight saving time will come to an end on Sunday, Nov. 1. Just around the corner.

If you have to do any tree pruning, be sure to do it before that tree loses it's leaves. Remember, pruning is OK any time, except when the leaves are either falling off in fall or opening up in spring. Another rule of thumb to remember when pruning is never prune off more than 1/3 of any plant at one time.

Many of us like to grow roses. In our area, the hardest part is getting them through the winter. Local nurseries now carry what they call “own root” roses. These are plants grown without a graft, meaning the plant is only attached to a its own root system. This makes the plant much hardier.

A grafted rose has a fist like bump where the top and a very different root system are attached. Growing this type of rose requires extra work … which may or may not be successful. This type of rose needs extra attention every autumn. The grower will need to “hill” up additional soil around that graft in order to keep it from freezing. There isn't a set date to do this. Instead, the grower needs to watch the weather forecasts and do this chore before the “real” cold sets in, usually around early November.

I almost forgot to mention garlic. October is the time to plant them, so if they're your thing, Do it now.

Hopefully, you've given your lawn that fall fertilizer. If not, time is running out. This is also the month to have your sprinkler system blown out. Always something, huh?

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is an active member of the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column has appeared in the Press every other Sunday from early March to late October for the past 12 years.