Get growing this fall gardening season

(BPT) – The changing season offers a new opportunity to grow fall-friendly plants. Gardening is a great way to decorate your space with beautiful blooms, grow fresh vegetables that produce delicious cool season harvests, and is a safe, healthy activity to engage in while practicing social distancing and enjoying the outdoors. Whether you have a small patio, high-rise rooftop, quaint sunny corner of your yard or even a balcony, the experts at Ball Horticultural Company share their fall gardening insights for growing a successful and stunning garden this season.

Prepare for planting

If you have plants that have matured from the summer gardening season, it’s time to clean up to prepare for new growth. Remove surface plants and use a tiller or hand tools to remove root matter under the soil. Add compost or gardening soil to pots, window boxes and other garden spaces, so they are ready with rich nutrients to support fall plant growth. If you’ve grown hardy perennials, just a brief tidy-up is needed. Clip away any brown foliage or spent flowers and provide a light covering of mulch at the base of the plant to ready them for frosty temperatures.

Embrace fall hues

Rich reds, vivid oranges and happy yellows are traditional autumnal hues that add energy to your gardens as temperatures turn. A classic coneflower and pollinator favorite, like the Sombrero Echinacea from Darwin Perennials, will brighten your space even as temperatures fall. Available in a variety of colors, Sombrero Baja Burgundy and Fiesta Orange are ideal for bringing vibrant fall color to sunny spaces and for attracting bees, songbirds and butterflies to your yard. Tip: Leave the older blooms of Echinacea on their stems to feed wildlife into the winter. Then cut them back after their feast to put new energy into the plant for spring.

Flowers that thrive

Another colorful and easy care option are Cool Wave Pansies, a fast-growing, long-lasting trailing pansy available in a variety of bold colors perfect for revamping your outdoor space for fall. A cool-season gardener’s dream, you can feel confident that these blooms will thrive even as fall temperatures ebb and flow. Check out Cool Wave Raspberry Swirl with cheerful magenta and white petals and a delightful yellow center. Tip: Place your Cool Wave Pansies where you’ve also planted bulbs. Their hardiness will make them the first pansy to reappear next spring for two seasons of enjoyment.

Enjoy homegrown vegetables

In addition to adding style to your space with fall flowers, incorporate seasonal vegetables to enjoy fresh, healthy produce straight from your backyard or patio. Burpee Sweet Thang Cabbage adds beauty to any garden with its attractive dark green leaves. A touch sweeter than collards or kale, this non-heading cabbage delivers a delicious bite to round out autumn dishes.

A wonderful option for full-sun gardens is Bright Lights Swiss Chard, a stunning All-America Selections-winning mix that produces delicious, mildly flavored stems in a rainbow of colors — including yellow, gold, orange, pink, violet, green, white, red and even striped! Tip: Harvest the tender bronze to dark green leaves young to enjoy in salads or eat like spinach or beet greens.

There are many plants that thrive in the fall weather, adding style and life to your outdoor space to enjoy for many months. For more tips and gardening ideas, visit burpeehomegardens.com and wavegardening.com.

Top tips for weathering storm season

(BPT) – September is the most common month for hurricanes to make U.S. landfall, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and with severe storms and tornadoes appearing around the country, it is more important than ever to take steps and be prepared before, during and after a storm.

One of the biggest threats during any storm is tree damage.

A tree might seem like it would be able to sustain the forces of a large storm, but whether it is unseen internal damage, wet, unstable ground, or proximity to power lines, trees are vulnerable during severe storms and can present a significant hazard. The following tips from expert arborist and STIHL spokesperson Mark Chisholm can help you protect yourself, your family and your property from a storm.

Before the storm

Develop a relationship with a certified tree care professional. By choosing the right company ahead of time, you’ll likely be prioritized as an existing customer when a storm does hit.

Conduct a pre-storm assessment and identify trouble spots

A pre-storm assessment can help you identify potential hazards on your property such as cracks in tree trunks or major limbs, hollow or decayed trees, limbs extending over a roof, or trees in close proximity to power lines.

Take measures to prevent damage

After assessing possible hazards to your property, consider measures to limit potential damage. Remove dead, diseased or damaged limbs. Inspect leaning trees and consider removing those with large cavities. Prune branches that are too close to your house and over the street, and check your gutters and be sure to remove any debris to prevent water damage. For any work in and around your home, consider calling a professional, and always call a professional to assess and/or remove anything within close proximity to utility lines. Never attempt to do this yourself.

During the storm

Don’t try to be a hero. Your property is not more important than your life. Prepare in advance, follow guidelines for evacuation and shelter.

After the storm

More people are injured after a storm than during one. Storm damaged trees present unique challenges and dangers. Put safety first. Evaluate what you can handle and what’s for a professional — anything not on the ground should definitely be handled by a professional. Some things could be a threat to your life such as large broken or hanging limbs where chainsaw work is needed, or branches that are too close to a utility line. Never approach or attempt to move downed utility lines and report branches close to or touching utility lines immediately.

If you’re skilled enough to do the work yourself, always wear proper attire and protective equipment including boots, gloves, protective glasses, chainsaw protective pants, a helmet system and hearing protection. Never operate a chainsaw from a ladder, roof, in a tree or while standing on any other insecure surface — leave these jobs for the pros.

Evaluate damage

A storm-damaged tree may not have to be removed. Inspect your trees to see if they’re healthy despite storm damage. If at least 50% of the tree’s crown is still intact, and the remaining branches can form a new branch structure, then there is a good chance the tree can be saved.

Repair minor damage & debris

Remove any broken branches, stubs or jagged remains of limbs. Smaller branches should be pruned at the point where they join larger ones. Don’t worry if the tree’s appearance is not perfect.

Stay educated

Learn more tips on tree safety, chainsaw safety, finding a tree care professional, and how to prepare for storms by visiting STIHLUSA.com.

Mark Chisholm

Mark Chisholm is a third-generation arborist with his family-owned Aspen Tree Expert Company in New Jersey and STIHL Inc. spokesperson.