by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Gardening is a year-round hobby, each month providing a new opportunity to cultivate your land and forest success.
Gardeners are at the harvest season’s peak and relish in the bounty of their vegetable and flower gardens. You may long for autumn as summer drags on. This is a pivotal time for your gardens. A few essential garden items ensure plant health through next spring and fewer maintenance chores at the end of fall. Here’s my personal end-of-summer to-do list.
Fall is for Planting
Now is the time to get things going. As the days cool, crops like kale, lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, and spinach grow crazy. Sow autumn seeds directly into the garden, covering them with soil and keeping them well-watered to encourage germination. Add beets, radishes, broccoli, and cabbage to your list of fall vegetables to grow.
Harvest and Make Space
Harvest is undoubtedly the most rewarding part of vegetable gardening. Pick vegetables so new flowers form and even more vegetables grow. Thin root vegetables like carrots, beets, and onions allow the remaining crop to spread and grow even more prominent.
Pull out plants that stop blooming or producing. Remove the drying/dying plants as the month progresses. This reduces disease and garden cleanup later in autumn. The remaining healthy plants may yield one more bonus round of flowers as cooling weather returns.
Fill in any spaces left behind with mulch, adding fall vegetables or autumn flowers. Do not leave the ground open and bare. This invites weeds and pests to grow in the available garden soil.
Maintain Shrubs and Trees
Once summer shrubs are done blooming, prune them back as needed. Water newly planted trees & shrubs regularly with a garden hose for at least one month. Automatic drip irrigation systems may not be sufficient initially. Water frequency varies by season. It is safe to water core landscape trees and shrubs weekly with a deep soak through October. Watering Guideline that works.
Prepare Mulch and Compost
A DIY compost pile is a simple weekend project that grows fantastic gardens. Compost rotted vegetables, plant scraps, and leaves to create a mulch pile that breaks down into compost. Check out my companion Compost for Betters Gardens.
Save What You Can
Harvest garden seeds to use next year. Harvest large crops of vegetables and fruits for canning, jams, and jelly. Harvest herbs for drying to use them the rest of the year. Preserving Herbs the Safe & Easy Way
Weeds & Deadhead Flowers
Summer rain encourages weeds to grow fast. As summer progresses, weed seeds become established and thrive in hot, humid conditions. Staying on top of weeds for the next few weeks. Prevent reseeding for fewer weeds and less maintenance next year. Spread ‘Weed & Grass Stopper‘ to reduce weed seeds from germinating in the first place.
Pinching or Deadheading flowers keeps perennial gardens and annual containers looking their best through fall. Deadhead your plants by pinching off spent blooms that encourage new flower formation throughout the year. Staying consistent with this task forces ever-bearing plants to channel their energy into new flower buds.
Free Garden Classes are offered @ Watters Garden Center
We go deep into growing better. Check out this Summer’s class selection offered every Saturday @ 9:30 am.
September 16 – The Easy to Grow Mountain Plants
September 23 – Privacy Screens and the Secret Garden
September 30- Fall Containers that Bloom Like Crazy
Until next week, I’ll be helping gardeners grow healthy plants here at Watters Garden Center.