Time to plan for fall gardening by starting seeds of leafy greens, broccoli, and perennials indoors or directly in the garden. Refresh existing beds with a layer of compost and new mulch and prune roses for the last time this month. Otherwise, enjoy the produce your vegetable garden is producing and the flowers you worked so hard on in the spring.
• Keep beds clean by cutting back leggy plants and removing dead leaves. Keep mulch fluffy. This will keep away slugs and disease.
• Keep spider mites under control in dry weather with a quick hard spray of water on leaves every day or two.
• Deadhead all summer flowering plants regularly to keep blooming going until frost.
• Keep butterfly bush deadheaded to keep it blooming. Cut off drooping branches above a set of leaf buds to encourage new growth on which more blooms will appear.
• Plan to buy spring blooming bulbs and other plants for fall planting.
• Add annuals around spring blooming perennials that have died back, as well as tucking them in around vegetables to attract pollinators.
• Cut back leggy plants to encourage another flush of blooms.
• Blossom end rot on tomatoes is caused by a lack of calcium, as well as uneven moisture on the plants. Add lime to the soil to increase calcium and mulch well to keep moisture consistent. Water deeply once a week if rain doesn’t provide.
• Put out slug bait or traps in shady areas of the garden to keep them from decimating your greens.
• Plant succession crops of beans, corn and squash. Mulch squash well and hand pick or trap slugs off them.
• Keep all produce picked cleanly, as one over-ripe cucumber or tomato will tell the plant to stop producing. Large leaves left on greens will encourage the plant to bolt. Keep picking to keep produce coming until frost.
• Either start seeds indoors or sow directly in the garden for fall crops such as mustard, turnips, chard and broccoli.
• Keep mulch islands around the base of trees, especially young ones, to keep moisture consistent and to depress weeds.
• Bring hydrangea blooms indoors to enjoy or dry them by hanging upside down in a cool, dry place.
• If you need shade in your yard, start planning now for shade trees to plant in the fall. Make sure to plan for enough space for a large tree and don’t plant it too near the house. Mulch the place you’ve decided to plant to keep the soil soft and nourished. It will make planting the tree much easier.
• If you are adding fruit trees to your garden, go through the same process as above to plan for where they will get enough sun and space to be productive. Plant young trees in October.
• Most lawn grass will go into dormancy when the weather turns dry and hot. Let it. It’s part of the life cycle of the grass and is not a problem. It will green up again when the rain comes back.
• If you mow, mow often but leave the grass a little longer to conserve moisture. Leave the clippings on the ground to nourish the soil.
Image: SS/Alison Hancock