Fall has arrived, and with it the start of the fall tasks. Here are some more for your “to do” list
Many gardeners like to propagate their favourite plants, bushes, trees or shrubs by saving seed, taking cuttings or layering.
Taking cuttings generally means cutting one or more branches of young or mature growth and, depending upon the type of plant, making lengths of 4-12 inches (10-30.5 cm) with either tips intact, or with cuts at the top and bottom.
These are then trimmed of their bottom two or three sets of leaves and/or bark.
The cuttings are then placed either in pots of compost, trenches or holes in the ground, which are then filled in.
The use of rooting compound is optional.
Layering is the use of plants whose branches have dropped to the ground and at this point have sent out roots. This branch can be cut and the young plant used.
If a plant has not dropped naturally, one can induce it to layer by leading a branch down and cutting a nick in it at the point where it will touch the ground. This point is then covered with a layer of soil and weighted down with a stone or pegs.
After a few months, this branch will have rooted and one can sever it from its parent.
Home or purchased cuttings should now be potted up ready for growth into the Christmas season.
Use a high potash feed such as a tomato fertilizer, to assist the colouring of the bracts. The plants also require 12-14 hours of darkness from now on. Gardeners can achieve this by using a black garbage bag over an upturned tomato cage.
Poinsettias by gardeners will tend to be rather leggy as we are not allowed the use of the plant retardants used by nurseries.
Healthy shoots of geraniums can be trimmed to two or three inches (5-7.5 cm) in length with the bottom being just below a leaf. Remove the bottom leaves.
The use of root stimulants is optional.
Place the cuttings several to a pot containing equal parts of sand, or perlite and peat, or use a ready mixed store bought potting compost. Stand in the shade in the greenhouse or sheltered area and keep moist.
Jobs for the week
As the weather turns cooler, rodents such as rats and mice are seeking winter accommodation. Use traps or bait — enclosed to protect pets and birds — to kill these pests and lessen their chance of entering your home.
J.J. Strong is a longtime member of the Newfoundland Horticultural Society.