As September ends, the bulb planting season begins right along with tomato harvesting and leaf raking. You’ve also got a brand new to-do list:
A few reader questions, with answers.
An easy way to harvest the last of the tomatoes is to uproot the entire plant and hang it upside down from the rafters of a garage or shed. As long as the tomatoes are kept dry and not freezing they have a chance of turning red.
Green tomatoes must make it to a certain stage in order to ripen after they are plucked from the vine. If you see a dark green star on the blossom end of your unripe tomatoes that means it will turn red if given enough time out of the weather. The warmth of the storage area determines how quickly the tomatoes will sweeten up.
In Western Washington our mild winters give gardeners an excuse to procrastinate as you can even wait and plant bulbs in November and still enjoy a colorful spring. Just be sure you remember to get those bulbs into the ground before Christmas and keep them from getting wet while in storage. Many a gardener has found a bag of sprouting bulbs in their garage or garden shed come spring after forgetting to plant in the fall.
The paper bark maple or Acer griseum grows to 25 feet in about 10 years and has beautiful peeling bark on the trunk that makes it attractive all year long.
For a shaded area consider the thread leaf Japanese maples such as the Acer palmatum ‘Waterfall’ a slow grower to 10 feet tall. Or consider Japanese maples with variegated foliage. Maples with very small leaves or with light colored foliage can burn in the hot sun.
Another small tree is the Japanese snowbell or Styrax japonica. Delicate dangling white blooms appear in the spring and this small tree does not have invasive roots. Local nurseries compete with great sales on trees and shrubs in the fall, and the return of cooler weather makes autumn a great time for adding trees to the landscape.