October will arrive next Tuesday, and thoughts of fall are natural, even if it doesn’t feel like it yet.
Fall in Florida doesn’t quite look the same as it does up north, but at least summer is officially over. Read on for some ideas of ways to spruce up your yard.
Liquid seaweed. With the soil, plants and the Indian River Lagoon in mind, show your lawn some TLC by spraying it with liquid seaweed (i.e. Maxicrop, Neptune’s Harvest, Liquid Kelp, etc.) using a hose-end sprayer. The more often the liquid seaweed is sprayed, even weekly, the more trace elements the plants can absorb.
Topdress. Instead of fertilizing your lawn, do it a favor and topdress it with a half-inch layer of organic matter this fall. The organic matter (i.e. mushroom compost) will increase the water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil, and if you’re lucky, add some of the soil food web microorganisms. Our sandy soils are seriously lacking in organic matter and the aerobic bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes that make up the soil food web.
Less water. As the days continue to get shorter, the turf will be able to tolerate less frequent watering, so you may not even have to water it once a week.
Less mowing. Shorter days will also slow down the growth of the lawn. You may only need to mow every two weeks. If you have weeds (and most of us do), be sure to keep them mowed so they can’t produce seeds. Mowing is an important weed control strategy.
Soil food web. Weeds are an indication plants are growing in dirt that is anaerobic and dominated by bacteria. The only way to stop weeds from growing is establish the correct soil food web needed to support the desired plants, which would turn your dead dirt into living soil.
Annuals. If your annuals aren’t looking good, replace them with cool-season annuals such as alyssum (this has a wonderful fragrance), calendula, chrysanthemum, dianthus, geranium (this perennial needs full sun in the winter and shade in the summer), petunia, snapdragon, pansy, flowering tobacco, stock and ornamental kale.
Stop pruning. Don’t prune poinsettia plants anymore so the colorful bracts have time to form in time for Christmas.
Plant herbs. October and November are the best months to plant herbs or start annual herbs from seed. Here are some herbs to consider planting this month: chervil (start from seed and grow them in the shade as a winter annual), borage, chives, coriander, parsley, lavender (hardy lavender and it’s cultivars aren’t good choices for our area ; opt for French, Spanish and sweet lavender), mint, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, lemon grass (I recommend planting it in a container) and thyme.
Grow strawberries. If you want to grow strawberries, the time to plant them is now through Oct. 25.
Plant vegetables. Vegetables that can be planted in October include arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots and radishes, cauliflower, celery, collards, endive/escarole, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.
Seed tape. Create your own seed tape to grow carrots, radishes lettuce using toilet paper and glue. Lay a ruler down the center of a strip of toilet paper and at every inch place a drop of glue. Place a seed on each glue dot. Prepare the soil in your garden, then did a shallow trench. Lay the seed tape, seed side up, in the trench and cover it with soil. Water thoroughly.
Sow seeds. Vegetable seeds that can be sown in October for planting in November are: arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage; cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, endive/escarole, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, peas (English and snow, not Southern), spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.
Hit the farmers market. Some of the fresh produce that could be available at produce stands or farmer’s markets in October include avocado, cucumbers, squash, sweet corn and tomatoes. Be sure to check out the Brevard County Farmers Market from 3-6 p.m. every Thursday at the Wickham Park Equestrian Center.