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Mississippi Gardens Newsletter ArchivesWhat gardeners can do in the fall
Mississippi Gardens Newspaper and Web Column - November 3, 2003

Bulbs (includes Corms, Roots and Rhizomes)

Tis' the season to plant bulbs! This should be the hot topic for Mississippi gardeners at this time of year. Selecting bulbs in the garden center is much like choosing onions or garlic in the grocery store. Bulbs should be firm and free of blemishes, holes, slashes, etc. Many types of bulbs are readily available in garden centers including tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and iris. Remember, large bulbs produce large flowers.

Bulbs are most attractive when planted in large groups where the intensity of color can be maximized. Planting the bulbs at the same depth will help insure uniform growth and flowering. Take note that planting depth may be different for different bulb types. For example, tulips are generally planted at about 5 inches or 2.5 times the bulb width. Crocus is planted at two to three inches deep.

Bulbs don't have to be fed when planted in fertile soil, but incorporation of 3 pounds of 5-10-10 per 100 square feet is a good rule of thumb. When foliage appears in the spring an additional pound or two of 5-10-10 is appropriate.

One of my favorite things to do with containers in the fall is to plant bulbs in them. This gives mobility to my bulb garden and gives me the flexibility to move them to wherever the action is. Purchase enough bulbs so that once your landscape space is planted you will have a dozen or so of each type to plant in patio containers. Plant at the same depth as in the landscape and consider using controlled release fertilizers

Groundcover and Lawn

Fall is not necessarily a time when there is a lot to do for lawn maintenance. It is however, a good time to tend to lawn equipment. Changing the motor oil on mowers is a very timely practice. Consider also cleaning or changing the air filter. Perhaps it is time to replace the spark plug? It is also recommended that the riding mower battery be removed and stored where it will not experience freezing temperatures. In our part of the state it is possible to leave it installed and have it survive the winter. However, it is also a good idea to crank and ride the lawn tractor periodically, perhaps once per month, to keep the battery charged. One other thought is to check the manufacturers recommendation to see whether or not they recommend the removal of fuel mixtures from string trimmers when not in use. Proper maintenance will keep these valuable tools working for years to come. Happy Gardening!

These archived columns were written by Kerry Johnson<, a hobby gardener, former weekly newspaper columnist and retired Extension Horticulture Agent for 11 coastal counties in Mississippi.