Our long growing season and mild winters mean we can garden almost all year round. However, that takes some planning about when to start seeds for this fall’s transplants. Beds for fall planting can be started now, too. Lay a layer of newspaper or cardboard over a new bedding space and cover with a thick layer of aged mulch. Keep it moist. In a month or so, the bed will be weed free and have a layer of compost over it to dig in.
Vegetables and Fruit
- Keep plants cleanly picked. Letting one or two cucumbers go to seed will stop production. Same with other fruits and vegetables.
- Put cardboard, newspaper or hay under melons in the garden to keep them clean, dry and worm free until they ripen.
- Plant second crops of bush beans, butter beans, cucumbers and squash. Squash vine borers have already come and gone, so the cucurbits have a better chance of survival now.
- Set out new transplants of tomatoes and peppers to replace the spent ones from spring.
- Plan your fall garden and start seeds for collards, broccoli, cabbage and kale. Under row cover, start seeds in the garden for turnip greens, carrots and chard.
- Fertilize vegetables from which you expect a second crop, such as bush and pole beans and tomatoes.
- If areas of your garden are done for the summer, plant green manure such as vetch, rye, clover or cowpeas.
- Harvest herbs for drying just before they flower. Hang them upside down in brown paper bags to dry.
- Plant a second crop of dill, basil and cilantro.
- A note on basil: Downy mildew has begun spreading and can destroy your crop. To combat it, thin plants to allow good air circulation and make sure they get plenty of sunshine. The fungus will not harm humans, so harvesting and making pesto at the first sign of disease is an option. Signs of the disease are yellowing leaves and dark colored spots (spores) underneath leaves.
- Keep deadheading by cutting just above first set of leaves below the flower. Many annuals and perennials will bloom again.
- Divide Japanese and Dutch iris.
- Cut back leggy, spent verbena and shear old blooms from dianthus, lavender and spirea. Fertilize and water. You may get another bloom.
- There is still time to sow portulaca, which flowers in three weeks. It’s also not too late to plant a new crop of zinnias to enjoy into November.
- Mow, cutting only a third of the height of the grass each time. In rainy periods, this may mean mowing every week or five days.
- Resist fertilizing now. It will spur new growth and make the mowing chore even worse.
Trees / Shrubs
- Plan and order shrubs and trees for fall planting.
- Take hardwood cuttings of shrubs for rooting. Strip off all but the top few leaves, dip in rooting hormone and plunge into moist, potted sand or perlite. Roots may take up to two months to form. Keep moist; you should have a transplant ready for spring.