Well Jack Frost finally made a visit and the colorful Pineapple Sage, Emerald Sage and even the Agastache Tutti-fruiti are gone over night. The colors in the woods are beginning to fade and it looks like our never ending Indian Summer is finally waning.
Consider getting your bulbs in the ground shortly and that means Garlic too. We still have Garlic both bulk and Garlic braids for eating. These braids are a bit larger than usual, 19 fists rather than 13 and retail for $18.00. They make a perfect gift for the chef in your life. They are California Early white and will last until next spring. It never lasts that long in our house because we eat a lot of garlic!!!
******************************************************** Our class schedule for next year has been uploaded and it can be found on the workshops link on the website. Classes are limited to 10 people per class but if your group would like to schedule one of these classes for a private class just let us know. This schedule will be increased after the first of the year but this should wet your appetite for what is to come.
New for 2008- Sign up for three classes( any combination) and you can take a class of your choice FREE.
We also will be adding a frequent buyer plan- Blooming bucks and the special surprise when we open April 26, 2008. Watch for more details on this and some other additions for 2008!!!
******************************************************** Well it is time for putting the garden to bed. When fall nips at your heels it is time to clean up the garden so that it will be ready for winter and almost as important, be ready for next spring. Once you have had a killing frost( we did this last week) make sure to clean up the foliage from your plants and remove to the compost pile (remember never to add diseased plants to your pile). I like to clean up around the crowns of plants but then leave selective stalks standing.
This will add winter interest to the garden but my reason is to provide winter feeding stations for the birds. The seeds of Echinacea, Rudbeckia or even Goldenrod become a highly nutritious food source for Chickadees and other winter birds. This past Sunday we had a huge flock of migrating Goldfinches who made a stop in the garden and I was glad to have the welcome mat out for these busy travelers. It is comical to see the local birds trying to vie for the same feed as the "visitors". We have local Chickadees, Nuthatches, Tit mice and even Cardinals which we feed all winter.
Unfortunately Gregg is not as happy with another local bird which lives at the pond, a great Blue Heron! He eats his fish as well as keeping the Tadpoles in check in the spring and has been with us for several years- I guess there is enough fish for everyone. As the temperatures drop and the fish migrate to lower depths in the pond Gregg stops feeding them.
Ornamental grasses shouldn't be cut back until late winter or early spring ( right before new growth starts) and they provide shelter from the cold. Last year we had bunnies in the Santolina, hiding under the Honeysuckle ( no it is not the invasive type) and even in some of the ornamental grasses.
A good thorough cleanup is necessary in the garden to eliminate potential problems for next year. Removing old foliage will eliminate areas for the insects to over winter thus creating less problems next year. I had a real problem with Blister Beetles this summer in the Japanese Anemones and I do not want a repeat next year. I will be very diligent in that area of the garden.
Mulching after the ground is frozen is crucial. Mulch will keep a constant temperature and eliminate the freezing and thawing cycle which forces plants from the ground thus killing them. Do not mulch before the ground has frozen or you will be providing hiding place for voles and mice. Those of you who are not familiar with voles, deem yourselves lucky. They are a type of rodent which eats roots ( until a mole which eats bugs). They live underground but use leaf litter or a deep layer of mulch to travel above ground. Once the ground is frozen, they will already have established a home so your newly mulched beds will be safe until spring.
I like to use shredded leaves in our mulched areas where I can, they remain loose in spite of rain or snow and decompose into the beds,I don't want to smother the plants, just insulate them. Straw, pine needles or evergreen branches also can be used depending on what is available in your area. Sage, Lavender, Rosemary , and other Mediterranean herbs which need good drainage need to be free of any foliage at their base and be sure not to bury them in mulch. They will rot over a wet winter. We can only dream about a wet winter if the weather forecastors are to believed- they are saying drier than usual in VA.
Cut back vining plants which are not evergreen and mulch them after that first freeze. I am cutting back our hops but the passion vine is still hanging on. I will cover them with a blanket of mulch.
For those of you who have annual beds now is the time to think about next years plants and amend your soil. One easy way to get a start on this is to bury your beds with those wonderful leaves and let Mother Nature work her magic over the winter.
Get out there and rake those leaves and put them to work in your compost pile for next year. We can benefit so much by using what is there and free for the raking. Enjoy what nature has given us and get out there and get to work. Once the garden is cleaned up you will be able to assess what will need replacing next year or what needs to be moved. When you have just the bare bones of the garden to look at you will be able to really assess what you have. This way you can plan ahead.
Thanks to everyone who visited this year and for the continued kind words. We have truly enjoyed meeting everyone and hope to see more of you next summer.
Although the farm is closed for the year, be sure to continue to visit us on the web at www.beagleridgeherbfarm.com We are scheduling visits for 2008, for programs and herbal lunches. Why not have your club meeting at the farm? If you want details, let us know. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us by phone at 276-621-4511 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set your date early.