The Cultivation, Issue 22
October 21, 2020
Inspired Ideas for Tending Your Home and Garden
One of the things I'm enjoying most about our new home is the suburban wildlife show that takes place daily in our yard. A new bird feeder from my brother and sister-in-law ensures a steady stream of songbirds to admire, and our healthy population of squirrels are all extremely busy building up their caches of acorns and pecans in preparation for winter. This week, I'm taking a note from these clever creatures and focusing on ways to make the most of autumn's bounty and on prepping for success in the cold months ahead.
Autumn Lawn Care
One of the secrets to a gorgeous, happy lawn in spring and summer is the care you put into it in the fall. Here's my go-to list for keeping grass lush and green:
Autumn can be a drier time of year for the East coast. Even though the days are cooler, it's still critical to keep your lawn hydrated before the onset of winter. If a week goes by without rain, get out there with the hose and give your lawn some water.
Your ornamental plants aren't the only ones that benefit from an extra dash of nutrients right about now. In autumn, I recommend feeding your lawn with either a seaweed- or kelp-based feed applied as a foliar spray. The best time to do this is in the next couple of weeks; it won't be effective once the grass has gone dormant. Think of it as a shot of wheat grass for its health. This type of formula encourages stronger root growth, nutrient uptake, and overall vitality. Neptune's Harvest is a brand I like to use. Alternately, you can sprinkle a light layer of compost over your lawn to give it a late-season boost.
Ample sunshine and mild temperatures make fall an excellent time for overseeding your lawn or mending bare patches. Click here for tips and tricks for seeding success.
It only takes a few blustery days to make your lawn disappear under a thick carpet of leaf litter. Be sure to stay on top of raking as leaf coverage can block critical sunlight from reaching your lawn. It also traps moisture and can lead to fungal and rot issues.
The charm of your weekly date with the lawn mower may be wearing off by now, but stick with it until the first frost as long as the grass is still growing. I use a level 3 mow height, which keeps things trim and tidy.
Top 5 Perennials for Autumn Color
Longing for more color in the garden this time of year? There is still time to plant for your favorite hues. Any of these late-season bloomers will give your garden an autumnal boost.
Anemone: September Charm
Fall-blooming anemones are one of my absolute favorites perennials. Whether you opt for pink-flowering varieties, such as September Charm or robustissima, or a white-flowering beauty like Honorine Jobert, be sure to they've got plenty of space. These flowers can easily reach 3' to 4' tall with lush, bushy foliage at the base.
Aster: Purple Dome
Most people are familiar with asters, the small, white or purple daisy-like flowers that grow wildly everywhere from the roadside to the edge of the woods. For a well-shaped, garden-friendly aster, I recommend the Purple Dome variety which is not so leggy and grows in a lovely, dense mound up to 18" high.
Sedum: Autumn Joy
Though it's named for autumn, this tough-as-nails perennial is one of the earliest plants to emerge each spring and offers beautiful foliage and texture well before its flowers bloom. The Autumn Joy is true to its name. For the same look but a more vibrant pink, try sedum Neon.
More commonly known as pink turtlehead for the shape of its flowers, this unsung hero of the autumn garden is a native to the eastern U.S. and extremely easy to grow. It's tolerant of full sun (with enough water) and nearly full shade, making it a great option for those darker areas of your garden.
Cimicifuga: Hillside Black Beauty
From its elegant stature to the rich, chocolatey color of its foliage, the Cimicifuga Hillside Black Beauty, which blooms in September and October, is real standout. It does best with part-shade conditions and is perfect for adding a variety of color to your garden.
In the Kitchen: Butternut Squash with Sage
One of my favorite recipes features roasted butternut squash as the star with pan-fried pine nuts and sage elevating it to next-level deliciousness. It's easy enough for a weeknight meal, but perfect for more special occasions, too. It's a great way to use all that sage you probably still have. Here's the recipe from Recipe Girl with a few optional tweaks that I've found make it even better.
3 pounds butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter *optional* (you can opt for more olive oil instead)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray lightly with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, toss the butternut squash cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until the squash is as tender as desired.
While the squash is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet (you can use olive oil instead). Add the garlic, sage, and pine nuts, and sauté until the nuts are lightly browned. Remove from heat.
Scoop the butternut squash into a large bowl. Scrape the contents from the skillet onto the butternut squash and gently toss. Serve immediately.
*Lori Lange (author behind Recipe Girl) recommends topping things off with some crumbled goat cheese for a delicious creamy tang.
We hope you enjoyed issue 22 of The Cultivation. If there is a garden you love and want to know how it was done, let us know by emailing us here. Want to catch up on previous issues? Click here to read through all of our prior editions. And remember to follow us on Instagram @staghorn_living!
See you next week.