Autumn is approaching rapidly! How did your garden fare this year? And what about your lawn? As we bid farewell to the summer season, there’s much to ponder regarding your landscaping and garden maintenance. The fall season presents an excellent opportunity for planting as well. Explore these valuable September landscaping tips to navigate through fall and ease into the beginning of winter!
Plant fescue grass or over-seed established fescue lawns, if needed.
Apply a pre-emergent herbicide for broadleaf winter weeds by the end of the month and water normally. Do not use a pre-emergent if you plan to over-seed your cool-season cool grass
Aerate your yard to prepare your lawn for the new grass that will emerge in the fall as the temperatures begin to rise and your lawn sees more sunlight. Aerators pull plugs out of your soil, loosening compacted dirt and allowing air and water to reach roots.
Begin planting trees and shrubs. Planting in autumn allows them time to grow roots.
Avoid pruning spring-flowering trees and shrubs during the fall, as pruning now will reduce spring flowers.
Trim dead or damaged wood from trees and shrubs but avoid drastic pruning.
Control black spot and powdery mildew on roses with labeled fungicide.
Watch for fall webworms on pecans, crabapples and other susceptible trees and trim out webs as necessary or treat with appropriate products.
Sow wildflower seeds and press into soil surface to improve germination.
Divide and re-plant spring blooming perennials such as Iris, yarrow and daylilies.
Adjust your watering schedule for lawns, shrubs, flowers and containers. Pay close attention to containers, as they tend to become waterlogged.
We were honored to outfit the 2023 Southern Living idea home with plants! Yes, that’s right – all the plants you see in the home are courtesy of your friends at G.O.B.! This house is an absolute dream – keep reading for a mini tour of the house. Photos courtesy Southern Living, a division of TI Lifestyle Group, LLC. Southern Living is a registered trademark of TI Lifestyle Group, LLC and is used with permission. Photo Credit: Laurey Glenn/Southern Living.
From Southern Living: “The Tennessee countryside is musical. The land rolls here, dipping into tree-spangled valleys then cresting into grassy knolls that stretch toward the sky. But unlike the rollicking melodies of nearby Nashville, about 30 miles northeast, the rhythms of the Leipers Fork area are a bit more relaxed, with honky-tonk tunes and neon lights taking a back seat to birdsong and starry skies. In other words, it was a pitch-perfect choice for the site of our 2023 Idea House—a reimagined farmhouse that honors its surroundings and encourages gracious hospitality.”
The plants in each room bring a breath of fresh air and add life. This home would have a completely different vibe if it weren’t for the plants! Plants possess a remarkable ability to transform the ambiance of any room they inhabit. Their verdant foliage brings a touch of nature’s serenity indoors, creating a soothing and refreshing atmosphere. The vibrant hues and varied textures of leaves and petals infuse a burst of color and life, instantly revitalizing even the dullest spaces. Beyond aesthetics, plants actively purify the air, releasing oxygen and absorbing toxins, thereby enhancing the overall air quality. Their presence also fosters a sense of tranquility and connection to the natural world, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Whether perched on windowsills, adorning shelves, or hanging gracefully from ceiling hooks, plants hold the power to imbue a room with an enchanting and revitalizing energy.
From Southern Living: “It was very natural for me to be inspired by the landscape when I considered the color palette, textures, and general energy of the house,” notes Laura. “We always aim for sustainability in our design plans, so we picked out materials that made sense for the property.” The footprint of the structure also takes its cues from the 67 acres surrounding it, with a main house that unfolds along the hilltop plus a garden folly and a multipurpose barn that snugly flank the pool and open-air entertaining space out back. “We thought it should be a home that looked like it had been there for a while, something that seemed settled and original,” says Bill. “We wanted it to appear as if the grounds had developed around the house, instead of the other way around,” adds Luke. Through architecture that prioritizes livability and interiors that feel harmonious with the land, our team crafted a bucolic retreat that is mindfully rooted in its environment and also intentionally designed for the future.” We love how important a factor that nature was when constructing this house! And special shout-out to our friends at Hatcliff Construction who helped create this house.
Many gardeners and houseplant owners are familiar with using ladybugs for pest control – they love aphids, right? You can purchase ladybugs anywhere online, and release them in your garden, home, or greenhouse. We even posted on Instagram about our garden center using ladybugs for pest management last year. But did you know that most ladybugs you purchase are wild-caught? Did you know they’re harvested in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and are not native to Tennessee? After attending a lecture featuring Bug Lady Suzanne, of Buglady Consulting, our staff learned that ladybugs are not always ideal pest controllers – it’s the Lacewing that we’re looking to for sustainable pest management. Suzanne provided us with tons of fantastic information, and changed our minds on the use of ladybugs in a garden center. Want to learn more? Keep reading!
Why not Ladybugs?
To start, Ladybugs, or Convergent Ladybird Beetles, are not 100% carnivorous. For some species of ladybug, more than half their diet is pollen – they’re pollinators before predators. This being said, they are not as effective predators for soft-bodied pests like aphids or mealybugs. Also, ladybugs are often wild-caught in the Sierra Nevada mountain range – this means that they are mostly native to California. Around 14% of all wild ladybugs carry Microsporidia – a contagious fungus. These wild-caught ladybugs, when brought to other parts of the country, spread Microsporidia. These ladybugs aren’t native elsewhere and are meant to be there and nowhere else.
Another downside to wild-harvested ladybugs is that they are often harvested while they are hibernating. This is a negative, because if the ladybugs are fat and happy and you release them in your garden, they aren’t going to want to feed on pests and other insects. Most likely, due to their migratory nature, the ladybugs will travel to another location and disperse. On the contrary, if you have acres and acres of farmland or plants, ladybugs could be a good choice. You could release ladybugs, and they would travel far to find other food sources. If you have a targeted area you are trying to treat, such as a greenhouse, the adult ladybugs would be released and then they’d likely leave the area.
Another issue with ladybugs is that they are rather difficult to farm-raise. Ladybugs often carry parasites, and removing the parasitoids can prove difficult even after generations of careful breeding. Also, ladybugs have a very specific diet. Trying to create a diet that a ladybug is happy to eat is very hard. They require lots of specific protein and pollen, and even then they could turn their tiny noses up at the food provided. They are labor-intensive to grow and due to this, no large productions of ladybug rearers exist. Farmed ladybugs are much more expensive than wild-caught, which just perpetuates the need to harvest them from the wild.
Why choose Lacewings?
Lacewing larvae are the perfect pest management insect. Their larvae are glued onto “egg cards” with dead moth eggs. These moth eggs provide the larvae with a meal when they first emerge so they can get a boost as soon as they’re born. The larvae are voracious predators and can eat hundreds of soft-bodied insects shortly after hatching. They’re a fantastic generalist predator. Another benefit is that the larvae cannot fly in their adolescent stage, so they don’t leave once they hatch. It’s an enormous benefit to have in a garden center, as we don’t want them to leave! Lacewings can target specific sites, and they are very focused predators.
Another benefit is the sustainability aspect – lacewings are not wild-caught. Lacewings are farmed in controlled environments, so they don’t have parasites or diseases. They’re easy to purchase online, and you can know that they were not wild-harvested and sustainably raised. Plus, once the larvae enter into adulthood, they are no longer predators – they become pollinators. They fly from flower to flower, pollinating as they go. They drink honeydew produced by aphids and then lay eggs near the aphids so their offspring will have food to eat once they’re born.
At Gardens of Babylon, if you stop in to our garden center you can see some lacewing larvae egg cards placed strategically throughout the greenhouses! Stop by and see for yourself. We love learning new things, and pride ourselves in staying educated and up-to-date on sustainable pest management and the reduction of pesticide use.
Here’s good news for gardeners who feel they missed their chance to establish a garden in spring: Fall will be here soon.
While spring traditionally opens the gardening season, many gardeners are aware that fall is great for planting. In September, the soil is still warm from summer heat while the air begins to cool, creating the perfect environment for healthy root growth. “This, combined with declining pest and disease populations is a recipe for success” horticulture experts at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture explain. “Work and planning now will pay off in the spring with strong healthy plants growing beautifully in a home garden.”
And after the long, sweltering summer, cooler weather brings you back out to enjoy the outdoors again. Think of it as the garden’s “second season.” What to plant? You may be surprised at what thrives in a fall garden:
Shrubs and trees
Fall and winter months are a good time to plant shrubs and trees. Spring-planted shrubs need to be watched and watered regularly as the weather gets warmer and they try to get established in the ground during the growing season. Planted when they are dormant, trees and shrubs can put their energy into establishing good root systems before they begin active growth again next spring.
Water trees and shrubs at planting time and throughout the season while it’s still warm and dry, but decrease watering as the weather begins to turn cold.
Those coneflowers, daylilies, peonies and other summer-blooming perennials may not look their best in the garden center right now, and they certainly won’t bloom this year. But planting them now gives them a chance to grow quickly into the still-warm soil before frost arrives.
A layer of mulch at planting time will help keep the soil moist, and should protect the new plants from being pushed out of the ground during winter’s freezing and thawing. Next spring, fall-planted perennials will emerge as strong, healthy plants.
In late summer, many kitchen-garden veggies begin to fade, but the opportunities for those garden beds don’t come to an end. As you pull out the dying squash and cucumber vines, you can make space for vegetables that grow in cooler weather and continue to have homegrown produce throughout the fall and, in some cases, well into winter. Consider the possibilities!
Leafy vegetables: Lettuce, spinach, kale, chard and other leafy greens planted early spring grow quickly when the soil is cool, and go to seed and die back as the weather warms up. Planted now, though, as weather begins to cool, these leafy greens will again thrive.
Root vegetables: Once they sprout, carrots, turnips and radishes grow fairly quickly, and continue to survive even through frosty fall nights.
Cole crops, or brassicas: broccoli, collards, cabbage, kale, bok choy and others are among the cool-season vegetables that grow in fall and are tough enough to withstand the colder weather to come.
Tips for success
Even though the calendar tells us it’s almost fall, warm weather can last for quite a while longer in Middle Tennessee. Provide plenty of water at planting time and throughout the rest of the season so that new plants’ roots are established going into winter. Use mulch to keep the soil moist and protect the plants’ roots (but never pile mulch up around the trunks of trees and shrubs).
Particularly in kitchen gardens, know that extreme heat and drought may make seed germination a challenge; summer insects and fast-growing weeds can also thwart your efforts. Pay close attention and take care of fall-growing vegetables from planting to harvest.
Getting ready to plant a fall garden? Seeds of cool-season vegetables are available at Garden of Babylon now; shipments of fall-growing vegetables to transplant will arrive early to mid-September. Visit the garden center or order online for curbside pickup.
Welcome to the enchanting world of airplants! These plants, commonly called Tillandsia, are a fascinating group of epiphytes that have evolved to thrive without soil, drawing sustenance from the air around them. At our garden center at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, we frequently get questions like, “how do I care for my airplant?” or “how do I keep my airplant alive?”. We’re here to help! In this article we’ll cover their unique characteristics and care requirements. Caring for a Tillandsia is relatively simple. Here are five essential steps to ensure the well-being of your Tillandsia:
1. Proper watering:
Air plants have a remarkable ability to absorb moisture directly through their specialized leaves, eliminating the need for traditional soil-based watering. Instead, these resilient plants utilize trichomes, small scale-like structures on their leaves, to extract moisture from the surrounding environment. To provide adequate hydration, it is recommended to give your Tillandsia a thorough soak in room temperature, distilled water. Submerge the plant in water for approximately 30 minutes, allowing it to absorb the moisture it needs to thrive. This weekly watering routine ensures that your air plant receives sufficient hydration while preventing overwatering, which can be detrimental to its health. After the soaking, it’s crucial to allow the plant to drip dry completely. Excess water trapped within the leaves can lead to rotting and other issues. Gently shake off any remaining water to facilitate proper drying. By adhering to this careful watering regimen, you’ll ensure the optimal health and vitality of your Tillandsia, allowing it to flourish in its unique, water-absorbing habitat.
2. Adequate lighting:
When it comes to light requirements, Tillandsias thrive in bright, indirect light, making them ideal candidates for placement near windows that provide ample filtered sunlight. By positioning your Tillandsias in a spot where they can bask in bright but diffused light, you are offering them the optimal light conditions to fuel their growth and vibrant appearance. While Tillandsias do require light for photosynthesis, it’s important to shield them from direct sunlight for extended periods. Intense, direct sunlight can lead to leaf burn, which shows itself as brown or yellow spots on the foliage. Consider using sheer curtains or blinds to filter the sunlight reaching the plants. It’s worth noting that the specific light requirements may vary slightly depending on the species of Tillandsia you have. Some varieties can tolerate more sunlight than others. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to research the specific needs of your particular Tillandsia to provide it with the most suitable light conditions.
3. Air circulation:
Proper airflow is essential for the health and longevity of air plants, as it helps prevent moisture buildup and the potential onset of rot. Tillandsias naturally absorb moisture from the air, and stagnant or humid conditions can create an environment that is conducive to fungal growth and other detrimental issues. To ensure adequate ventilation and airflow, it’s important to consider the placement of your Tillandsias. First and foremost, choose a location with adequate air circulation. Avoid placing your air plants in enclosed spaces or areas with limited airflow, such as closed terrariums. Instead, opt for open spaces where air can freely move around the plants. This could include placing them on open shelves, near open windows, or in rooms with good ventilation. Taking advantage of gentle breezes can also benefit your air plants. If the weather permits, opening windows or doors can introduce a natural airflow that helps to prevent stagnant conditions. Additionally, using a fan set to a low or gentle setting can simulate a breeze and improve air circulation around your Tillandsias.
4. Temperature and humidity:
Maintaining the right temperature and humidity levels is crucial for the well-being of Tillandsias. These resilient air plants prefer moderate temperatures that range between 50°F (10°C) and 90°F (32°C). While they can tolerate occasional drops in temperature, it is advisable to avoid exposing them to extreme fluctuations, as it can stress the plants and hinder their growth. To provide optimal conditions for your Tillandsias, it is important to keep track of the temperature in their surroundings. Avoid placing them in areas prone to drafts, such as near air conditioning units or heating vents, as sudden temperature changes can be detrimental. Instead, choose a location where the temperature remains relatively stable, such as a room with consistent heating and cooling.
Maintaining an appropriate humidity level is equally crucial for Tillandsias. Ideally, the humidity should be kept between 50% and 60% to mimic their natural habitat. If the air in your home is particularly dry, especially during winter or in arid climates, you can provide supplemental humidity by misting your Tillandsias occasionally. Use a spray bottle filled with room temperature, filtered water to mist the plants, ensuring that the water droplets lightly coat the leaves. Be cautious not to oversaturate them, as excessive moisture can lead to rot.
While Tillandsias are capable of surviving without regular fertilization, providing them with a balanced and diluted fertilizer can indeed enhance their growth and overall health. Although they extract nutrients from the air and surrounding environment, a supplemental fertilizer can provide them with a boost of essential elements for optimal development. To fertilize your Tillandsias, opt for a water-soluble fertilizer specifically formulated for orchids or bromeliads. These fertilizers are often suitable for air plants as well, as they contain the necessary nutrients in a balanced ratio. It’s important to dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength to prevent the risk of burning or damaging the delicate leaves of your Tillandsias. Following the instructions provided with the fertilizer, mix it with water in the appropriate ratio. During the growing season, which typically spans from spring to fall, apply the diluted fertilizer once or twice a month. Take care not to exceed the recommended frequency, as excessive fertilization can lead to salt buildup and damage the plants. Ensure that the foliage is thoroughly moistened with the diluted fertilizer solution, but avoid drenching the plant excessively.