Fall is a time of settling in, of preparing for the big cold. In this class we’ll work through ways to prepare your garden for the coming cold months by participating in nature’s cycles.
Tidying spaces in fall when there’s not much going on in the garden helps set forth into spring with a fresh start!
- Put away structures like tomato cages & trellises, protect them from the elements for longer use.
- Remove dead annuals and tender plants from your beds, turn them into compost for next year! Cutting canes and stalks to 2” pieces will speed up the decomposition process.
- Taking time to clean tools with alcohol and a mixture of oil & sand helps prevent passing on diseases to next year’s plants.
- Prepare potting areas & work spaces by organizing & making sure things that would be ruined by wet weather are put away somewhere dry.
Cutting perennials to the ground or to old growth for the winter focuses the energy of the plant on the root system, giving it an opportunity to sustain life in the starches of the roots for next season. During fall clean up we cut back:
- Perennials like Rudbeckia, Daisies, & Artemesia down to the leafy growth at the base of the plant
- Ornamental grasses can be cut down to 2” of growth
- Woody plants like Russian Sage, Rabbit’s Brush, & Butterfly Bush can be cut back to 2” of growth after they are done flowering
- Roses can be cut back to the old growth (growth that remains brown during the growing season, usually close to the roots)
- Perennial Herbs like chives, thyme, oregano & mint can be cut to the base of the plant
For the most part, pruning is done in the spring, when plants are putting on new growth, however some trees & shrubs, namely evergreens, are pruned in the fall when they put on new growth.
- Evergreens like Spruce & Firs put on new growth called candles in fall. This looks like bright green, small growth at the tips of the leaves. To prune, choose the shape you’d like to see your tree or shrub grow into and cut back growth that goes against your shape. Be intentional with cuts, and step back frequently for a larger view
- Shrubs like euanamous, dogwoods, & viburnums are also great to prune in fall, as with evergreens be intentional & cut back to the next node.
While it may seem counterintuitive, fall is a great time to plant certain things like :
- Bulbs & Rhizomes like Iris and tulips, bulbs must be planted in fall because they need the cold season to rest & store energy before the warmth of spring wakes them up. Plant bulbs in holes 2x as wide and deep as the diameter of the bulb. Rhizomes like to be planted level with the soil, but be sure to protect them with mulch or compost for the cold season.
- Planting Perennials in fall is a great way to get a leg up on spring planting for the following season. Be sure to water & protect new growth with frost cloth during freezes.
- Sow wildflowers like Bidens, Echinacea, Mullein & Milkweed in fall, this can be done in spring as well, however, in nature, wildflowers drop their seed in late summer and fall, this gives them an entire season to settle, and break through their shells. For a fruitful germination, cover seeds with leafy mulch, or a layer of compost to protect from freeze.
- Sowing cover crops is a great way to keep a no-till garden. A good basic cover crop is Red Clover. Seed is cheap and the plant spreads, keeping the top layer of soil loose & healthy. For compacted soils, using daikon radish can break up hard to dig areas.
Composting & Manure
Adding nutrients to the soil in fall gives the dirt an entire season to break down the additions. This can be done a few ways, one can use manure (purchased from local garden supply stores or from a generous local farmer) or compost, either way, wait until you are ready to leave your beds alone for the season, then cover beds in a layer of media up to 2” deep. One can also use activated charcoal in this mixture to encourage nitrogen.
Some gardeners also practice trenching, in which they dig a two foot trench in the bed & bury compost, dry leaves, manure and/or hay in the trench, then bury it, and top dress the bed with more dry material like leaves or hay. This method is great for veggie beds!
If you keep a compost heap (which if you can, you should, it’s free compost), covering the heap with a tarp weighed down by rocks helps the soil to break down while protecting it from becoming too wet from snow and rain. Uncover in spring for happy, healthy compost.
Extend the Growing Season
Many gardeners use Colorado’s hot then cold then hot then cold style fall to grow far into winter by using Cold Frames. Cold frames are built to trap in heat and can be as elaborate or as basic as you desire. The best way to start is by using PVC or wire to make small half moons over veggie beds & stretching clear plastic over the structure. Some great fall crops are
- Lettuce, Kale, Chard & other leafy greens
- Radishes, Beets & cold hardy carrots
- Broccoli & Cauliflower
- Peas & Cold Hardy Beans
As the season’s tasks come to an end, it is vital to take time to reflect on last years work, and what you hope to see differently in the future. Ask yourself questions such as;
What was successful?
What didn’t work so well? How can it be improved?
What plants caught my attention this year?
What plants didn’t do so well?
What do I want to try next year?
Use these as a jumping off point for your spring planning!
Dearest Friends & Fans,
While totally understandable, I always found it confusing and sad when brands I loved completely disappeared without explanation, so I wanted to close with as much candor as when we opened. My plan was to write this goodbye letter after first contacting those closest to R.L. Linden & Co. (RLL) and then afterwards announcing it to the public, but I’m juggling quite a bit at the moment, so apologies for the mass update blast. If I had the time and ability right now I would be sending personal cards to all those who cheered on, supported and helped RLL over the past 4 years. To everyone who made a purchase, to every retailer that carried our line, to those who blogged about us and told their friends about our products, to the make-up artists and estheticians that trusted our products enough to use on their clients, to those who worked, interned and volunteered with us, to the other companies, makers and green beauty folks that we’ve befriended along the way, to the plants that we worked with, please know how appreciated you are and that I am sending thanks from deep in my heart.
R.L. Linden & Co. launched it’s first 3 products in August of 2013. The last 4 years have been quite a ride! RLL started in a basement and ended up on the red carpet, in major magazines and sold internationally. We had been approached by and turned down offers from large retailers because we didn’t want to outsource production. Our goal was to make a legacy company, a place where we would formulate and work at until we were old and that our children would have the option of working at if they so desired. We weren’t independently wealthy or bankrolled when we launched, we were two friends, two moms, who were in love with plants and formulating and scraped together what we could to make some damn fine products. We hustled, oh boy did we hustle, formulating, mixing, pouring, labeling, shipping, social media, the whole shabang. Our husbands, kids and friends helped, we had one amazing woman investor that enabled us to get into a large enough workspace to scale production and there were many, many dark chocolate and pop-music fueled late nights. We weren’t afraid of hard work. We started before we were ready and learned as we went, I remember getting an email asking for a line sheet, then googling to figure out what a line sheet was and then creating our first line sheet while bouncing on an exercise ball nursing my third baby.
RLL grew fast, which although super exciting, was not an easy thing for a small handmade company to figure out how to wisely navigate. Robin (the R in R.L. Linden & Co.) left the company last September for personal reasons. In hindsight I wonder if I should have called it quits then too, if we should have shut it down together. But I so believed in what we had created and grew together that I dedicated myself to keep RLL up and running. So determinedly or stubbornly or maybe a bit of both I kept it going, even throughout severe morning sickness, with the help of two amazing employees, family and friends. But the bottom line is simply the bottom line, it’s not financially feasible or wise to keep RLL up and running. What made our products so special makes them hard to create in large numbers. I’m not willing to outsource, or to use low quality ingredients, or to pay low wages/exploit employees, or to not pay myself. If I can’t continue with integrity I won’t continue.
This has not been an easy decision to come to and I’ve debated sharing so much about it. I feared criticism, I didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news to those who adore RLL products and I didn’t want to admit defeat to those who wanted us to fail. RLL was a bit like a child to me and my partnership with Robin was like a marriage of sorts, but while grieving the loss of both I am grateful for the silver linings. Never in a million years would I have thought that my formulations would have graced the pages of Vogue Paris, People, Glamour, Elle and more. Or that I would be asked by much larger well known lines and celebrities to custom formulate for them. RLL was the best teacher I could have asked for to hone my skills (and nose) and I wouldn’t trade that for the world, but I’m done with the crazy busy and am leaving the hustle behind. Working myself into the ground in the hopes of maybe some kind of windfall at some point in the future is not worth my moments today. Maybe it’s the punk kid in me, but selling out never held much weight anyway.
In February of this year I opened Rosehouse in Denver and in March I birthed my fourth child. Both have brought with them exhaustion, joy, excitement for the future and new priorities. Rosehouse opened in the Ironwood space that inspired RLL’s first perfume oil. This is seriously my plant nerd dream store that I never thought was even a possibility and I want to do right by it. My vision is to create something new, a living apothecary. I want to focus on the plants and tell their stories, to highlight the botanicals behind the products, to make teas, perfumes and more in accordance with the seasons and to make a living off of being a crazy plant lady while being able to take care of myself and my family while doing so.
So here is the deal, I will be making the last batches of RLL products before the end of the month for one last “Thanks For The Memories” sale. It will be an online only sale and RLL products will not be available before or after. The sale will be announced on social media and emailed out to our newsletter list. I will share a few last blog posts with you while closing up shop and gifting you something close to my heart after the sale is finished.
Thank you for reading.
Lynn (the L in R.L. Linden & Co.)
P.S. look at this squishy chunk of awesomeness that slept on me while I wrote this.