by Charlene Burgi
It finally feels like fall is in the air. The evenings are cool and crisp; leaves are beginning to turn brilliant shades of reds, yellows and orange; the apple, pear and persimmon trees are laden with fruit; and pumpkins are just waiting for the last rays of sunshine to deepen their orange flesh.
This is the month to be in the garden. There is so much to do. Spring bulb planting can go on for another month in Marin. The nurseries have a fresh supply of multiple colors and varieties of iris, daffodils, freesia, crocus, and so much more in stock. Stagger the planting times for prolonged blooming. For the best display, plant your bulbs in drifts. Remove the bulbs from their package and toss handfuls into the area that you want to plant. Insert the bulb to the required depth just where it fell. This method of planting bulbs will keep your garden looking natural.
And speaking of natural, if you have trees, it is natural that some types may start to lose their leaves soon. Prepare for the onslaught of fallen leaves by creating cylinders of wire mesh three feet in diameter held in place by four to six stakes or rebar driven into the ground on the inside of the wire. Place the fallen leaves in the cylinder as you are raking rather than tossing them into a green waste bin. The leaves will decompose and make great mulch for your garden in spring.
Edible crops for winter gardens should be planted right now. If you are not going to plant a winter garden, sheet mulch over your existing vegetable garden, add composted material and plant with a cover crop to enrich the area for spring planting.
After the chores of the garden are complete, may I suggest that you prepare a cup of hot apple cider and relax.
New England Cider
1/2 gallon apple cider
1 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 cinnamon sticks
Several orange slices
Zest from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 to 8 whole cloves
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan.
Slowly heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.
Strain liquid and serve immediately.
Note: Reserve strained-off spices and refrigerate together with any leftover liquid. Use this as a starter for your next batch.