By Khaula Siddique
I love the changing seasons; each season has a special feeling and atmosphere. I feel like Fall is a time to start slowing down, take walks wearing soft fuzzy socks, hats and sweaters. Bake pumpkin bread and make savoury soups, drink that evening coffee with a generous amount of foamy cream!
The cooler weather also heralds the end of my garden, this is always a little bittersweet. Collecting the seeds is therapeutic, I know these seeds are in investment and will bring new joy and beauty in the Spring. But saying goodbye to the colourful flowers, the freshness of those greens, the warm sun and my pride and joy; the mini pond is always hard.
Start collecting your seeds as soon as they get dried and look like the seed pods are ready to burst or the seeds are all visible in the flowers and the birds come to peck at them. I grow Cosmos and Morning Glory, these are annual and I collect the seeds, store them in paper bags and plant them again in the spring. Morning Glory has little spherical seed pods, they turn very light brown and papery when they are ready to disperse. You can gently press the seed pod and hold your paper bag under it to collect all the falling seeds, there are a lot of pods and often in clusters so I do this so as not to lose any seeds.
Cosmos flowers produce seeds right in the middle of the flower, no pod or anything, so when the petals fall and you can see the seeds turn dark and enlarged you can start picking them. If they are still greenish you can leave the paper bag open to ensure the seeds dry out properly.
My Canna lily has a spiky-looking seed pod that dries quite slowly, when it has turned brown, I just pop the small sound black seeds out and store them in a paper bag as well. I can grow these inside the house any time of year though. You need very damp soil, in fact, I put enough water to make it quite swampy. I just push the seeds about two inches down and keep the pot in a sunny window. When the seedling gets around 6- 8 inches you should transfer it to a bigger pot. It will give you flowers all year round, just keep it in a sunny spot. Store your paper bags with the seeds in a dry place.
Bringing Plants Inside
Once it gets cool enough to require a sweater in the late afternoon, I start bringing in some of my plants that can’t be grown from seed and can grow indoors. Like my palms and the Canny Lily. The Water Lily will go in a big plastic garbage bag with enough water to keep it from drying out in the back of the garage where it won’t freeze. If you have a sunroom you can just bring your mini pond inside though. I bring my dwarf papyrus inside and place the mesh basket in a larger planter that I fill with water. I also keep it in a sunny spot. It is better to bring them in before it gets to the point where you have to turn on the heating as the plants need some time to climatize to indoors and the heating on can be too much of a drastic change for them. Remember to keep them away from the heating vents! They can dry out if you aren’t careful.
When you empty the pond out don’t forget to properly wash, dry and story the solar fountain if you have one! Mine has lasted very well over the past few years. I just take it apart to clean it really well, dry it out completely and then store it in a box for next season.
Avoiding Fungus Gnats
When you bring in your outdoor plants you may notice little fungus gnats having a wild party in your house! To avoid this make sure you get some packs of yellow sticky traps. These are super effective, you can find them at most hardware stores and department stores that have some gardening supplies ( I got mine at Walmart). Just stick them in the pots of your plants. I suggest Safer’s brand. I also get their insecticidal soap spray. I spray the soil of all the plants regularly and then put in the sticky tape traps. That ensures I don’t get any gnats and if I do, they are easily eliminated.
Don’t forget to check and make sure your plants have enough water throughout the Fall and Winter they spend indoors. Don’t water them too much though. The soil should feel damp to your finger if you push your finger down about an inch. Do cut away dead and drying leaves as needed. Anything left to decay in the pot will be a place for fungus gnats to party!!
Storing Some Plants, Containers and Pots in the Garage
Remember to pack your containers and pots in the garage if you can, especially the container you use as a pond. You don’t want it to get damaged or cracked in freezing weather. If possible, keep the very back walls of the garage as a winter storage for plants that you have in pots that you know will come back in Spring. If you leave them outdoors in the pot it will probably not be enough protection against the freezing temperatures we get. If the root freezes the plant won’t come back in the Spring. Overwintering them in the garage will save them. Those that are in the ground usually have enough protection, but you can also cut those down and cover them in a good layer of wood chips (mulch) and landscape fabric just in case. Especially the expensive plants!! It can save you from spending more than needed on new plants the next season.
These are just some things I have learnt over the past years as a (very!) amateur gardener, if you have some tips we’d love to share them! You can email us your gardening tips and images at email@example.com!
About the Author
Khaula Siddique, artist at Khaula’s Art, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now paints stories on large walls. She loves bringing art to the community and achieves this through interactive art activities and public art projects. When she is not painting, she is over-indulging her large eccentric orange tabby who part-times as her critic and her muse. You can find her art shenanigans on her website, Khaula Siddique.com.