By Cynthia Brian
“Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day!
Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree…”
When it rained this past week, did you smell it? The scent of earth mixed with fallen leaves and decomposing plant matter signals the transition of the seasons. On the calendar, autumn began on September 22, 2022, but it wasn’t until November that I inhaled this intoxicating aroma that brought back childhood memories of the end of harvest, jumping in piles of leaves, and blazing bonfires.
In just a week, it seemed that so many trees changed their wardrobe from vibrant green to sunset colors of amber, gold, red, bronze, and yellow. The “foliage show” is late here in California, yet it is glorious. As the leaves turn, they also drop, blanketing our landscapes with a marvelous source of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and nutrients that the soil craves.
As much as you want to tidy your garden, refrain from raking the leaves into your green bin. Leave a layer of leaves on the ground to encourage the photosynthesis process in the natural circle of life. If leaves are too big, mow or cut them and add them to a compost pile with food scraps, lawn clippings, eggshells, coffee grounds, and other biodegradables. After a few months, you’ll have a rich mulch filled with worms and beneficial microbes to add back into your garden at no cost to you. When you add organic materials to your soil, you are providing food for the organisms that improve soil aeration and drainage while reducing soil compaction. The nutrients will release over time
As we inhale the delicious flavors of fall and experience the cooler temperatures, it is also time to perform tasks in preparation for winter.
ü CLEAN patio furniture before storing or covering it for the season. It is especially critical to remove bird droppings left on your umbrellas, hammocks, or other furniture.
ü TURN OFF sprinkler systems.
ü CHECK for any irrigation leaks.
ü LEAVE leaves where they fall, spread them around your garden, or add them to a compost pile.
ü FERTILIZE grass, especially when it is going to rain.
ü REMOVE debris, sticks, and weeds from garden beds.
ü PLANT cover crops to fix nitrogen. Fava beans, mustard, and clovers are excellent choices.
ü PICK pumpkins, apples, guavas, squash, and any fruits or vegetables left hanging before frost and rain.
ü DIVIDE overgrown clumps of perennials such as daylilies, agapanthus, iris, or naked ladies. Move them to other locations or share them with fellow gardeners.
ü COVER any exposed soil with straw, grass clippings, aged wood chips, pine needles, or even shredded newspaper to reduce weed growth, moderate soil temperatures, retain moisture, and reduce erosion over winter.
ü BUY six packs of perennials including columbine, carnations, penstemon, and coral bells.
ü BRIGHTEN your fall garden with pops of color from pansies, cyclamen, violas, Mums, stock, Iceland poppies, and primroses.
ü FIND favorite fall color trees to add to your landscape where selections are vast at your local nursery.
ü SCATTER California wildflower seeds including poppies and lupines and sow seeds of sweet Alyssum, bachelor buttons, forget-me-nots, and milkweed.
ü DEADHEAD roses for continued blooms during the holidays.
ü PRUNE dead branches from trees and shrubs.
ü BEWARE hungry coyotes have been on a rampage killing poultry, cats, and small dogs. Keep your animals and small children safe.
ü ENJOY the many colors of lantana blooming throughout fall in purple, orange, red, white, and yellow.
ü GET READY to plant bulbs towards the end of the month for a spring show.
IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
During a cold winter, there is nothing better than knowing that you have organic, tasty, greens and vegetables growing right outside your door. Fall is the best time to get these nutritious edibles going for a bountiful harvest in the new year. Most of these plants prefer extra nitrogen. Side-dress them with a balanced fertilizer as they grow.
Plant seeds or seedlings of:
Varieties of lettuce
Make sure to plant shallots and garlic now to harvest next summer.
NOT TO BE MISSED
Saturday, November 12th from 3-5 PM, I’ll be in-person reading, telling stories, and signing books from my new children’s book, No Barnyard Bullies, at Point Richmond Art Gallery, 145 West Richmond Avenue, Point Richmond, California, 9480. Families with children are welcome. If you have purchased an NFT from www.StarStyleCommunity.com, you’ll be given a gift.
Monday, November 21st at 2 PM, I’ll be hosting a “Thanksgiving is Every Day” celebration via Zoom for members of the StarStyle® Community. Buy a StarStyle® NFT today that benefits Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 charity and participate in numerous exclusive experiences designed for members only. www.StarStyleCommunity.com
Although I don’t like the darkness that descends so much earlier when I still have so many chores to complete, I am reveling in the cooler days that allow for laboring longer with less strain. Digging in the dirt in fall bequeaths the most luscious autumn aromas…musty, musky, intoxicatingly earthy. I wish I could bottle it!
Thank you to so many readers who sent me notes of healing. You touched my heart and my spirit, and I am very appreciative. I am following my own advice. Each day anew…and a wee bit slower!
Go outside and breathe in the fragrance of fall and know that, as gardeners, we will be resting soon, along with Mother Nature.
Happy Gardening. Happy Growing!
Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Her newest children’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies, from the series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures is available now at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store For an invitation to hang out with Cynthia for fun virtual events, activities, conversations, and exclusive experiences, buy StarStyle® NFTs at https://StarStyleCommunity.com
Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com