By Brent Gray
Begin collecting material now for those handsome fall and winter decorations. Ideas include milkweed seed pods, cornstalks, hydrangea blooms, grass seed heads, nuts, cones, coneflower seed heads, globe amaranth, goldenrod, ironweed, iris seed pods, even old wasp nests and interesting branches, lichens or fungi. The list could go on and on. Take the kids or the grandkids for a “fall foraging foray” into the woods and fields to gather interesting materials. Be sure to squirt the “little squirts” and yourself with insect repellent or you may bring home some uninvited guests.
Use what you collect as a free style bouquet, arranging your collection of cones, pods, acorns or whatever around the base of the bouquet container to spruce up a table, sideboard or other countertop. Attach items to a grapevine or straw wreath using a hot glue gun or florist wire. You could just pile your collection of nuts, cones, fungi, in a crystal or other decorative bowl and use that as a centerpiece. Add a little moss from the woods and, presto, you have a nice addition to your fall home decor.
Don’t forget to check out the local farmers’ market for the dried cornstalks, hay bales, potted mums, gourds, pumpkins, winter squash, Indian corn, broom corn and other great fall items to use for decorating. You can even eat the pumpkins and squash when you get tired of your fall display!
Direct seeding time for onions is approaching quickly. Onions should be seeded from October 1 to November 1. One of the most widely grown yellow varieties is Texas Sweet. The first name of 1015y was replaced because international seed have to have names, not numbers. It was developed to be seeded on October 15 in the Rio Grande Valley. Most of our short day onions will do well if seeded in October. Gardeners who prefer setting plants or planting sets can wait until December to put them in the garden.
Shorter days mean less time to work in the garden during the week – before and after work. Take a quick walk through the garden in the morning before you leave so you can plan the tools you need to bring in the afternoon. This also gives you a chance to arrange help if there is more than you can accomplish alone that day.
Rain has been relatively scarce recently. Remember that the vegetables still need about an inch of water even in the slightly cool temperatures we have had.
Garlic can still be planted. Break the head into cloves. Plant the large cloves and eat the small ones. There are many types of garlic to try. The white one we get at the grocery store is probably California Early or California late, which are soft neck types like creole garlic. There are hard neck types like rocambole, purple stripe and porcelain which have the added pleasure of making large scapes (seed stalks) that can be harvested and eaten sauteed. Elephant garlic does well in Mississippi.