Fall colors; preparing gardens for cold; and master gardener volunteers

Tony Nye - OSU Extension

It sounds like this past week of 80-degree weather may have been the last for 2021 and fall-like temperatures are here to stay for a while.

Fall is a special time of year for me — my favorite season of the year. As the weather cools down, often we see our trees become a blaze of red, orange and yellow, and the tastes and aromas of autumn return.

By the end of October, most of Ohio and all its glory of fall colors will be at its peak. Take time if you can and explore the colors through a weekend drive or casual hike through many parks and public areas throughout Ohio.

With fall days getting shorter, the temperatures cooler, and farmers combines rolling in the fields our summer activities in the garden begin to wind down.

‘Cool’ gardens

Here are just a few things to consider to prepare for cooler temperatures in our gardens.

Our perennials and grasses can have seed heads through the winter months providing a feed source for birds. The foliage can also help protect and insulate crowns which can help some plants in overwintering. Standing stems also help identify plant locations of late risers in the spring.

Removing and cutting back foliage is only necessary in the fall when the plants suffered from foliar diseases. Diseased plant debris should not be put in the compost pile as compost temperatures will not kill all pathogens. Fall is also a good time of year to consider dividing and replanting overgrown plants.

When replanting, compost can be added to the hole to provide the plants with additional nutrients.

Fall is also a good time to pay attention to corms, bulbs, and roots such as dahlia, gladiola, and canna lilies. They should be dug up and stored in a cool, dry place; this is a task that can easily be forgotten. Additionally, fall is time to plant hardy bulbs such as tulips, crocus and daffodils as these bulbs require a vernalization (cold) period to flower.

Summer annual plantings should be removed and cleaned out. Insects and diseases can overwinter on plant residues and can potentially carryover into the next growing season if environmental conditions are favorable. This also saves time in the spring when getting ready to plant new annuals. Soil in annual beds and pots can be improved through the addition of compost or composted manure.

Be a master gardener volunteer

Another gardening activity for enthusiasts might be becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer.

OSU Extension Clinton and Greene Counties will be hosting a joint master gardener educational program this winter.

The classes will be offered on Thursday’s from 4-6 p.m. as a hybrid of online learning, Zoom, and face to face discussion with hands-on activities beginning February 3 and concluding April 28, 2022.

Some of the face-to-face activities will be held either at the OSU Extension Greene County facility, 100 Fairground Road, Xenia, or the OSU Extension Clinton County facility, 111 S. Nelson Ave., Wilmington.

The Master Gardener Volunteer training program is a practical and intensive training designed to educate participants in the following horticultural topics:

• Soils and Fertilizers

• Botany

• Herbaceous & Woody Ornamentals

• Weeds

• Plant Pathology

• Entomology

• Plant Propagation

• Integrated Pest Management

• Backyard Fruit & Vegetable Production

• Houseplants

• Lawn Maintenance

• Tree Identification

• Much more

The Master Gardener Volunteer training program is open to anyone wanting to increase their knowledge on a wide array of horticultural topics and is open to residents from any county in Ohio.

Our Clinton County Master Gardeners play an important role in our community helping with beautification projects at the parks, working with Habitat for Humanity, the local libraries youth education programs as well sponsoring such events as the annual plant sale and horticulture workshops in May, and support of several Clinton County businesses.

Master Gardener Volunteers also help in the Clinton County extension office answering gardening questions. They provide educational presentations to garden clubs, can assist with 4-H youth garden projects, write garden columns for the newspaper and also host and conduct many other educational meetings and workshops for homeowners to participate in.

Becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer is an option for each individual intern. If you would like to become certified as a Master Gardener, after completing the program and final exam, individuals will be asked to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours. Individuals volunteer their time assisting with educational programs and activities for area residents through OSU Extension.

An application, references, background check and fingerprinting are required for all OSU Volunteers.

The cost for the entire course is $175 per person if registered on or before Nov. 20. For application form or for more information contact the Clinton County Extension office at 937-382-0901.

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.


Tony Nye

OSU Extension