It’s already time to start planning for the fall garden, in addition to enjoying the fruits of spring plantings. If it’s not too hot and dry, there’s still time to plant more corn, beans and squash, as well as tucking colorful annuals in where spring perennials have died back.
• Deadhead ‘Monarda’ (bee balm) for more blooms.
• Lightly feed with compost your Joe-Pye weed and late blooming day lilies, salvias and garden phlox.
• Remember that compost feeds the soil, not the plants (though they benefit from it).
• Start getting ready for fall planting by building raised beds or digging up new beds and adding compost and expanded shale or other grit.
• Refresh the mulch in existing beds after adding a layer of compost around established plants.
• Order bulbs and other plants for fall planting.
• Broadcast zinnia seeds in the flowerbeds for late season blooms.
• Lantana is a butterfly magnet. Have as much around the garden as you have space for. Consider making a butterfly island bed.
• Petunias thrive in hot spots and have vibrant colors.
• Add blooming annuals to the vegetable garden to attract pollinators.
• Plant succession plantings of pole, lima, and bush beans; plant winter squash. Replace bolted lettuce or other greens with corn or beans.
• Continue to harvest herbs. If you are drying them, rinse and dry them before hanging in brown paper bags. Another alternative is to rinse herbs, chop them & place them in ice cube trays filled with water, to be used later in soups, roasts and stews.
• Cut fresh mint for a refreshing twist on a cool drink.
• Start seeds indoors for leafy greens, such as kale, Swiss chard, cabbage and collards to be planted out in late August for fall crops.
• If you don’t have a bird bath, keep an old bowl with fresh water available and visible for the birds. Float some wood chips in it to make it available for bees and other pollinators, as well. It will help your tomatoes by keeping birds from pecking them for the moisture.
• Do not allow standing water to breed mosquitoes. Use ‘Mosquito Dunks,’ which can be added to bird baths, ponds and rain barrels.
• Mulch to reduce weeds and evaporation. Use leaves, straw or compost. Make sure your veggie plants get plenty of lime and nitrogen, as mulches can use up both as they decompose.
• The huge benefit of fall plantings is that we are missing some of the hungriest pests that show up in our spring gardens.
• Feed your ‘Knock Out’ roses for the last time this summer. It is also not too late to plant garlic along side of the roses to keep bugs off and provide a tasty harvest in the fall. Lightly prune your roses to maintain good air circulation.
• Prune heavy branches of your butterfly bushes to keep them from breaking. Butterfly bushes bloom on new wood (ideally they were pruned in the spring.) Keep them deadheaded and they will continue to produce blooms.
• Pull mulch away from the trunks of trees leaving about six inches between the bark and mulch. This will help keep down pest infestation and fungal diseases.
• Make sure that young trees do not dry out during long spells without rain. Deep watering equals deep roots. Water newly planted trees an inch per week for the first growing season to establish a strong tree.
• Pick up dropped fruit from the ground and use or dispose of it appropriately.
• Feed your lawns sparingly. Too much fertilizer forces new growth, which tends to be weak and will need extra water and additional mowing. Work toward building healthy soil by adding organic mixes to it, before or after core aerating the lawn. Spread compost no more than 1/4″ over the lawn surface. Following with aerating, and water thoroughly.
• Be careful to not let your weeds go to seed. Use a broadleaf herbicide or broadcast corn glutten over the lawn as an organic alternative. It is high in nitrogen and prevents the seeds of annual weeds from sprouting. The downside is that it encourages the growth of perennial weeds.
• Keep mower blades sharpened. Dull blades tear the grass, weakening it and increasing the surface entry for fungus.
• Avoid mowing when the grass is wet.