Gardening puts us closely in touch with nature's subtle, seasonal changes, a process of continuous renewal. Though the vegetable plants and the flowers many of us include in garden plots that were so vibrant and productive in midsummer may be waning, there is still much to be done in the garden and in beds of ornamental plantings. We prepared the following tips which should be helpful as you transition your garden from late summer to autumn for continued enjoyment and to be better-prepared for next year's growing season.
A Checklist of Late Summer / Early Autumn Gardening Tasks
Having a plan makes everything easier. Not sure what to do as the rampant growth of summer winds down in your garden? Here are some suggestions for keeping your garden and flowerbeds going as far into autumn as possible and preparing for a productive growing season next spring and summer.
Remove Wilted Vegetation from Your Vegetable Garden
Pull up all the plants that have wilted and turned dry and brown. They may harbor disease and rob nutrients from plants that are still adding beauty or producing fruits or vegetables. Place any obviously diseased or mold-covered plants in the trash, not in your compost pile or container. Clean and sanitize any tools that came into contact with these diseased or moldy plants.
Test the Soil in Preparation for Planting Cool-Weather Crops
Before planting late season crops (and next spring's flowering bulbs), you'll want to make sure that the soil conditions where you plan to plant are suitable for what you've chosen to cultivate, in terms of pH levels and nutrient content. Test the soil and add natural substances, if possible, or organic fertilizers to enhance each site for the planned planting.
Add Compost to Your Garden for Continued Productivity
Applying compost you've prepared yourself on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do to keep your garden fertile and productive, your plants healthy. Applying compost isn't just something you should do in spring. Summer-growing plants, like vegetables, with their rampant production, can rob soil of nutrients.
Adding fresh compost or other appropriate types of organic material when you do your late summer garden clean-out, before planting fall crops and bulbs ensures a consistent supply of nutrients, which can help plants protect themselves from disease and pests, in addition to ensuring optimal growth potential.
Topdress With Mulch for its Multi-purpose, Multi-season Perks
The multiple benefits of mulch application include helping to prevent weed seeds from sprouting, aiding in soil moisture retention, and soil temperature regulation. Even as it decomposes, mulch provides the benefit of adding soil nutrients for your garden plants.
In a bed of ornamentals, mulch can begin to look drab as it decomposes. To keep beds looking fresh, but still get the greatest value from your purchase, you can remove the old mulch, replace it with a new layer, and place the mulch you've removed in your compost pile/container.
Don't Stop Deadheading - It Keeps Flowers Blooming
Cutting or pinching off spent blooms doesn't just keep those rows of flowers in your garden (and in the pots near your house) looking well-groomed. It's good for plant growth and continues to encourage reblooming throughout an extended growing season.
Expand Your Plant Collection with Division
Late summer is a good time to divide the bulbs of plants like peonies, daylilies and iris. Division will not only give you more plants. It will prevent overcrowding which limits blooming, and help plants get air circulation, which helps prevent the growth of fungus and disease infestation.
Water Liberally During Autumn's Dry Weather
Traditionally, in many areas, it rains less often in autumn. Keep annuals blooming for your enjoyment until frost takes them, by continuing to water liberally each day. And water your late summer new plantings to get them off to a good start.
Up next are some great choices of flowers and vegetables you can plant in the fall to enjoy soon or in the spring.
Plant Late Season Veggies (and Flowers)
The garden harvest doesn't have to end when temperatures turn cooler. These plants - and flowers - are a few of the most popular of those which can thrive in autumn gardens - or dazzle us next spring - if planted in late summer.
The Cole Family Thrives in Fall Weather - And Cole Crops Support Wellness
Flavorful broccoli and cauliflower florets, crispy round brussels sprouts, turnip, mustard, and collard greens, nutritious kale, uniquely shaped kohlrabi, versatile cabbage for cooked dishes or cole slaw - all of these vegetables are perfect for fall meals. Plant them in late summer. They'll mature in autumn.
"Cole crops" is a general term used to describe these members of the mustard family. All cole crops are cultivated varieties of the species Brassica oleracea. Veggies from this family are often recommended as some of the most important for health.
Popular Ingredients for Autumn Soups and Salads you can Plant in Late Summer
Leeks, carrots, turnips, parsley - radiccio, leafy lettuce, cilantro. These are some additional fast growing cool-weather crops you can include in a late-season garden, to spice up your meals with fresh, nutritious ingredients, even after the heat of summer has passed.
Mums - for the Latest of Autumn Blooms
Mums come in a variety of types and a wide range of colors. All of them are basically easy to grow and, given the right site and optimal care, will produce bushel basket shaped mounds of prolific blooms sometimes even until after the first snow falls.
Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs - for Early Season Inspiration
Remember how encouraging it can be to see the first snowdrops and crocus emerge from the newly thawed soil in early spring? Then comes the parade of daffodils, tulips, allium. All of the lovely spring flowers that bloom in sequence, ushering in the new growing season. Plant them in autumn, each according to the recommended date. The anticipation of their emergence will provide hope through the winter.
With thoughtful planning regarding soil preparation, maintenance tasks, and choice of plants, your fading late-summer garden can be renewed and transitioned for enjoyment through the autumn season.
When the growing season finally does come to an end, indulge your green thumb over the winter by nurturing an indoor garden. And, save some of the spring bulbs you purchase for your garden for forced blooms indoors. A farmhouse kitchen sink that suits your décor can make plant care even easier. Contact us with questions about our wide selection of designs.