Well, it's that time of year again- your garden is fading and so are the wonderful moods that come with all the summer blooms. Many of us are left wondering what to do now in this space between summer and fall.
Begin with making sure you rid your garden spaces of any unwanted weeds. Even small weeds can turn into big problems if left through the fall, as many of them will seed out before winter and prepare for a healthy new crop of weeds for the spring.
Do not fertilize trees and shrubs now. At this point, your plants are going to begin the process of going dormant. Fertilizing now serves very little purpose for the plant growth, as the nutrients will not be utilized by a dormant plant and may actually be harmful. It will cause new growth that may be killed by the first cold snap.
Clean all of your pruning tools and put them away. Cutting your plants back now will encourage new growth. If that new growth takes place before dormancy, you could potentially be setting your plants up for failure for spring as the tender growth may not survive the colder temps. Remember, do not butcher your crape myrtles. Pruning them severely like is seen will eventually kill them. Plant the right size where you want it to grow, so it will not outgrow its space. Also, If you prune spring flowering shrubs, you will be cutting off your spring blooms. That defeats the purpose of them. They will just be another green bush.
Prepare your soil for cold weather crops and begin to plant them. Leafy greens such as cabbage, kale, lettuce, mustard, spinach, and collards do very well in cooler temps, as do, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
If you are not planting cold crops, you can begin to clean out your summer veggies that are no longer producing. Turn your soil, add compost and mulch well. This will help to add nitrogen and nutrients to your soil and keep some weeds at bay for your spring planting season. Compost will make it easier for water to penetrate the soil.
Now is the time to think about adding pansies and mums to your garden. Mums are the flower of fall. Even one mum on your front porch or several around your mailbox say welcome. Just be sure to keep them watered as mums are thirsty plants. Pansies are the longest blooming flower, with the most color variety of any other flower. If planted in the fall, pansies or violas will bloom most of the winter and will be beautiful in the spring. I have even seen the blooms peeking through a light snowfall. They will brighten a winter or rainy day. An added bonus is they are edible. I have seen them sugar coated as cake decorations or added for color to a salad. Pansies are deer's favorite food. We spray the blooms with Liquid Fence, which is organic. It works to keep deer out of our pansies. That is why we sell it.
So get out there and jump into fall with all the enthusiasm that you had in the spring. Trust me, you won't regret it.