Steps to prep your garden for fall, winter

By Tom Dominguez

Now is the time to sow seeds of the many cool-weather vegetables, greens and herbs that thrive through New Mexico relatively mild winters. The fall and winter cool season is often more dependable for growing these crops than the spring season.

• Coleus and caladiums require plenty of water this time of year if they are to remain lush and attractive until fall. Fertilize with ammonium sulfate at the rate of l/3 to l/2 pound per 100 square feet of bed area, and water thoroughly.

• Rejuvenate heat-stressed geraniums and begonias for the fall season by lightly pruning, fertilizing and watering.

•Don’t allow plants with green fruit or berries to suffer from lack of moisture. Hollies will frequently drop their fruit under droughtconditions.

• Some vegetables such as cucumbers or eggplants also become bitter if underwatered during peak growing times.

• Remove weak, unproductive growth and old seed heads from crape myrtles and roses to stimulate new growth for fall beauty.

• Prune out dead or diseased wood from trees and shrubs. Hold off on major pruning until mid-winter. Pruning now may stimulate tender new growth prior to frost.

• Sow seeds of snapdragons, pinks, pansies and other winter flowers in flats for planting outside during mid-to-late fall.

• Prepare the beds for spring-flowering bulbs as soon as possible. It’s important to cultivate the soil and add generous amounts of organic matter to improve water drainage. Bulbs will rot without proper drainage.

• Continue a disease spray schedule on roses as blackspot and mildew can be extremely damaging in September and October.

• Christmas cactus can be made to flower by supplying 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness and cool nights (55 degrees F) for a month starting in mid-October. Keep plants on the dry side for a month priorto the treatment.

• Plan to plant wildflowers in early September and October. Check supplies now and order seed for planting in open sunny areas.
Consider bluebonnet, Indian paintbrush, coneflower, fire-wheel, black-eyedSysan, evening primrose and many others. Soils should be lightly cultivated prior to planting.

• Divide spring flowering perennials such as iris, Shasta daisy, gaillardia, rudbeckias, cannas, daylilies, violets, liriope and ajuga.

Tom Dominguez is an agent with the Quay County Extension, NMSU Extension Service. He can be reached by emailing tdomingu@nmsu.edu or calling 461-0562.