Halloween is over and we're speeding toward the year-end holiday season.
Whether you celebrate quietly or with family and friends, there always seem to be more tasks than time. Perhaps it is good that our landscape proves fairly self-sufficient this time of year.
Where to start?
1. Check for signs of stress from our overly dry October. You may notice foliage wilting or even flowers failing to completely open.
2. Water. On your county-mandated watering days, make sure those suffering plants are nourished. If we have a cold winter, plants that are already under stress are more likely to suffer.
3. Tidy up. Walk around your garden and complete a quick fall cleanup. Remove any dead or dying plants, rake up fallen leaves — although many more will fall as we move toward winter — and pull those pesky weeds because you don't want them going to seed and overwintering in your garden.
If there are oak trees in your yard, you know this has been a prolific year for acorns. Rake and sweep them up and put them out with your yard waste.
4. Last call for planting. If you're interested in planting some vegetables, do it now. Prepare the garden or those few bare areas in your beds where you can tuck in a plant or two. If you have a bed designated for edibles, add some compost or topsoil. Mix it in and rake it smooth. Then decide what you want to plant.
This is a good time to plant broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions, peas and radishes. Plant what your family will eat and try a few vegetables that will be new.
Often, children will eat something from the garden even though they may have refused vegetables purchased at the grocery store. Let them help with the care and see if they aren't more likely to eat it.
Don't forget to tuck in a few herbs. Herbs that suffer in our humid summers will flourish this time of year. Try anise, basil, coriander, dill, garlic, ginger, parsley, sage, mint, rosemary and thyme. Again, try some you regularly use and a few that are new to you. These plants should last into summer before they succumb to the heat and humidity.
It isn't too late to add some color to your garden. A row of flowers around your vegetable garden adds a nice accent. Marigolds may help keep some pests away, or try nasturtiums (you can eat the flowers). Also dianthus, petunia, pansy or geraniums add winter color to any bare areas in your yard.
This is also a great time to add bulbs to your yard. Or plant them up in containers so you can enjoy them by the front door. Bulbs that put up with the Florida weather include Aztec, spider, rain and African lilies. Amaryllis, calla, snowflake, elephant ears and iris are worth a try. These bulbs will reward you for years with blooms.
5. Do a final trim. Give your hedges and other shrubs a cut before winter. Just cut off any unruly, dead or diseased stems and branches. Don't trim too much or you will force growth that may be damaged if we get cold weather this winter.
6. Sit back and enjoy. As you get ready for the busy holiday season, don't forgot to take a few minutes to enjoy your yard. A well-placed chair with a good book might be all you need to relieve some of the season's stress.