Slow Down in Fall Gardening, Why Is That?
Location: Washington, Kitsap Peninsula
Posted: Sep-28-2004 at 4:47pm
Typically, September and October are the slowest months on Rainy Side Gardeners. Over the last 6 years, I often wonder why this is the time it slows down. For me, early fall is a valuable gardening season for the PNW and I get so excited about the plantings and the jump on next spring! It is unsurpassed as a time to plant most plants, and peak time to prepare a garden for spring plantings. In addition, it is a splendid time to get a jump on the small weeds that are showing up that will keep growing over winter and set seed by early winter and scatter them while we are still hunkered down inside.
So why do we wind down these months? My best guess is because we have had months and months of gardening and most people are tired of the garden, or their garden does not excite them at this time.
It is such a good time to reflect on our gardens. What, or what did not work in the garden. Now seems a good time to research what is going to make our gardens better, easier, more glorious. If the garden is looking on the incline, about now, what can we do to make our gardens look incredible for fall and winter?
Why do you think people are not as interested in gardening at this time? Remember I am not talking about us diehards, hardcore gardeners!
Location: Washington, Western
Posted: Sep-28-2004 at 9:34pm
Oh yeah I am so diehard that I am already planning nexts years gardens and potting up and what can go under grow lights and when and and and and
But I will say that I am not spending the needed time outside lately (partly new job). I think that for me as the days get shorter my internal clock goes to presrving and then baking. I am very seasonal and winter is coming so my intrest outside has waned.
One thing that makes it difficult to work outside now is how late into the day the ground remains wet. There is one side of the house that never dries out in a day. I have planted and harvested in the rain before but this is different. Honestly though I think we humans are just as seasonal as our ancestors were, we just don't recognize that is what is happening. In previous times we would not be working in the garden as much now would we? Wouldn't it be geared more towards harvesting and preserving. Possibly planting a winter crop or cover?
Don't know, just my rambling on about it. Interested in how others perceive it.
Location: Oregon, Willamette Valley
Posted: Sep-29-2004 at 7:13am
Just speaking about the average, Mary-the-homeowner gardener, I would suggest that the retail outlets don't do the promotions that take place in spring. Many folks depend on their supplier to guide them in whats-to-do in their homemaking---maybe now that Martha's going to the greybar hotel, maybe people are lost??
I'm only being semi-nutsoid here, in my recent search for gotta-have-it shopping a local, and reputable, garden center phone answerer told me that fall wasn't a good time to plant, that I should wait for spring when "they" would bring in the new plants. Look at your typical, OK, my typical, garden center, plant selection is down, what's there is pretty beat up and on sale. Current selection is between Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations.
When I was looking for a map\list of retail garden centers between Wilsonville and Dancing Oaks, I surfed the Oregon Association of Nurserymen's web site and found finding more difficult than looking. I called their office, as it's here in Wilsonville, and asked if there was a hidden page on their website. They advised me to have them mail a brochure which had a map. I went to the office and a mediocre map is available. Being a shy, retiring type, I asked why the info wasn't on the website and why it is so difficult to find places to buy our regionally grown plant material. The dull, glazed expression on their faces provoked a "why don't you folks get with the program?? Go across the street to Fry's, get a web geek, and fire up your website. Your members might appreciate the business."
OK, so maybe shy and retiring is stretching the truth.
Here in the PNW you can't swing a rake without hitting a nursery, but as we all know, the good and open-to-shopping nursery is a rare find. And cause for expeditons. Imagine you are a newbie gardener, shopping at Homeless Despot or such, and the "garden center" locks the outside gate and has nothing to purchase, wouldn't you think the "season" is over??
Marketing and education go hand in hand. Or not. Try to buy patio furniture in August. Or swimming suits.
Location: Outside the Maritime Pacific Northwest
Posted: Sep-29-2004 at 7:26am
I think it is a matter of just what has already been hinted at - there are gardeners and there are gardeners. Sounds disparaging eh; not meant too be I assure you. We can't all be fanatical about gardening and for many it does have a fall off season.
For my part I have always been fanatical about horticulture hence my choosing it as my profession.
Here in the UK counties that I have home gardened in, both ornamental and culinary, there has always been ways for the keen gardener to continue busily through all seasons with the exception of mid winter.
For those in a climate that delivers them much snow and/or solidly frozen ground - choice is of course not an issue.
When the weather is inclement there is work that can be done at the cold frames or in the glasshouse or polythene tunnel. The potting shed, be it a proper garden shed or the garage is also a place where so much work can be done to finish off the growing season tidily and to prepare for next year.
I'm tempted to list all the autumn/fall and winter jobs that I have done over many years but that could be boring. And I'm sure most of us would be only too aware of them anyway.
For some it is a good thing that they spend more time with their family instead of getting lost in the garden. "Too much of a good thing" can be a truism.
Location: Oregon, Greater Portland Metro
Posted: Sep-29-2004 at 8:42am
Good question, Debbie. I had wondered that myself. I have noticed among my non-fanatic gardening friends that after spring, they really are not interesting in planting anything and the hot summers just make things wind down even more. Every time I mention what a great time Fall is for planting, I get this surprised and "Is she crazy?" kind of look. Alot of people are tired of the garden by this point and go into a hibernation mode. Maybe it's the anticipation of the coming dark, gray months. The sun sets so early now. All the points brought up are likely reasons why non-fanatics aren't interested in gardening.
LOL, Barb, I find myself more interested in baking too when it is cold and wet outside!
Location: Oregon, Western
Posted: Sep-29-2004 at 3:55pm
Typically, for about the last 6 years, this Sept. to Oct. period has been one of the busiest for me regarding installations. In fact, the busiest part of the year.
I'm not sure how many users of this site are professionals, but for me, my computer time diminishes in Sept. and Oct..
It's been handy in one way. Now I'm planning to reduce my internet time even when the work slows down. I'm aiming for about 30 minutes per day maximum so I can boost my reading again. I used to read an average of one to two hours per day.
Location: Willamette Valley
Posted: Sep-29-2004 at 4:10pm
Interesting responses: I think the explanations regarding the non-fanatical gardeners are probably accurate for most. Casual gardeners and newbies with spring fever and lots of questions are on line earlier in the year.
My take on the reason for the low posting traffic on the part of the rest of us is we are busy in the garden but doing things that don't require us to search for answers and solutions. In the spring we're planning new gardens, trying new plants, looking for solutions to things we've thinking about over the winter and thus often have a lot of questions. It's been mentioned that fall is the time we're planting and doing clean-up and we usually don't require much input for that. My biggest project for fall is almost always planting the pot ghetto: all those plants I've acquired when my eyes were too big for my trowel. I had no idea where to put them, just knew I had to have them. So now I'm out there trying to get them into the ground -- busy wandering the property with pots in hand ...searching...searching....
Location: Washington, Puget Sound Corridor
Posted: Sep-29-2004 at 9:04pm
I think Tom is right . . . I've had people tell me you can't plant anything except bulbs in the Fall. And you have to get those in before the end of October at the latest. Garden Centers are so depressing by October. Lowes and Home Depot aren't even worth going into the garden sections. A lot of people buy all their plants from the hardware stores and department stores like Freddies--they seldome if ever go to the major nurseries.
It's harder to work outside--it's cold and damp, if not downright soggy. During the summer, I can work outside after work during the week--after September, I can't do that without carrying a lantern or something so that I can see what I'm doing! The dark and the cold really put a cramp in the gardening.
Location: Oregon, Greater Portland Metro
Posted: Sep-30-2004 at 9:26am
Originally posted by tommyb
"a local, and reputable, garden center phone answerer told me that fall wasn't a good time to plant"
Wow, that salesperson did an abysmal job of selling nursery stock to you! IME, nurseries try really hard to clear out their stock in fall to reduce costs of care over the winter, so I'd think they'd be shouting the benefits of fall planting, not the other way around. He or she must be either an inexperienced gardener or a non-gardener. Which isn't surprising since retail staff are paid either at or just slightly more than minimum wage - it is difficult to get and retain knowledgeable staff at that low wage.
Nurseries respond to market demands, supplying plants when customers want them. Customers buy when there is a good variety of plant material, equating volume to best time to buy and plant. Traditionally customers buy plants in spring; nurseries provide more plants in spring in response. But which force is at work first? I could easily have written "Nurseries provice more plants in spring; customers respond to volume with purchases." IMO, it is a chicken or egg thing. Or maybe it's more similar to Pavlov training. Spring arrives and people head to nurseries. It will take education and effort to reverse that. Dedicated gardeners know better and could aid efforts but I have been very frustrated in my efforts to find plants in the fall. I often have to wait until spring and shop with everyone else.
Additionally, nurseries have a longer time period to sell their stock in spring. Winter is definitely a slow time at nurseries; most nurseries aren't able or willing to gamble with large stock purchases to satisfy the fall shopper.
I like fall gardening because the cooler days and nights enable me to work harder and longer without tiring. Plus the allergies and asthma that generally plague me in spring aren't a problem in fall (but this year may be the exception - sneeze, sniffle, wheeze, cough, ugh).
Maybe we need a slogan to convince people to change their habits? Fall into gardening? I'm sure someone will come up with something more creative than I can at present.
Location: Oregon coast
Posted: Oct-04-2004 at 11:51am
I know why I slow down around this time of year: I'm broke! Credit cards maxed out, no dinero, money gone. I've already spent what I had budgeted (and then some). So now I make sure everything I bought is planted, everything that needs to move gets moved, everything is tied down or covered up or put away. And while the money's gone, I can look around my garden (especially in the backyard where I'm putting the finishing touches on my brick patio) and see that my garden pleases me, it's shaping up nicely. And I can start my list for next year. Ah, sweet anticipation!
Location: Puget Sound corridor
Posted: Oct-04-2004 at 2:19pm
For me, it's school. We've been spending a lot of time with the kids and their activities and helping/encouraging the homework. I know this isn't a reason for everyone, but for those of us still in the "rearing years" it's a very busy time. It always seems like the kids go through a rough time the first month of school until they figure out that YES, THIS YEAR IS HARDER THAN LAST YEAR! Thank goodness the teachers are so accessible with email and websites. Anyway, the garden has to take second place when you're a slave to the kids' calendar!
Location: Puget Sound corridor
Posted: Oct-04-2004 at 2:56pm
I have the same issues as Wanda with kids in school. My kids' school has a "garden club" of all things and I joined the kids this year (I think they agreed to it...) so I'm hoping to sneak in some gardening under the guise of kids education! Should be interesting, first meeting is Thursday.
Location: Washington, Western
Posted: Oct-06-2004 at 5:30pm
Oh I know what it is, I am just dang tired in the winter. Does anyone else have this problem?
Plus I have a new job but that does not count cause I was never on here before!!!