Our gardens are currently letting us know that they need a little extra tending to right now and would love help transitioning into cooler temperatures. Your garden may also be in the throes of its last hurrah, producing ripe edibles or pretty petals, but secretly eager to downshift and get ready to be put to bed in the upcoming months.
Seed a fall crop of peas and spinach and keep harvesting! Many flowers and vegetables will revive and continue producing if you regularly harvest the vegetables while they are young and tender and deadhead spent flowers.
Pick your herbs for fresh use and for drying. Most herbs have a more concentrated flavor if they are not allowed to flower and frequent harvesting will accomplish that. Harvesting will encourage them to send out fresh, new growth and keep them growing longer.
Check that your mulch hasn’t decomposed and add more as needed. While organic mulches (link to LE mulch) are meant to continue decomposing on your garden beds and help feed the soil, you do not want to leave your soil uncovered at the end of the season. Bare soil is just an invitation for weed to move right on in.
Spread a mid-season layer of moist organic compost or manure. Your plants will appreciate the extra boost to get them through the final growing months and your soil will need some amendments, too.
Plant trees, shrubs, and perennials now, so they can take root. Keep them well watered, until the ground freezes, since they have a limited root system.
Late summer can turn any landscape (edible or not) into a mess of falling, brown plants trying for one last round of blossoms. Removing their dying portions creates less garden cleanup work later in fall. And who knows? If cool temps set in early, the healthy green plants may yield one more round of flowers.
If whole plants need to be removed, make sure to fill in empty spaces. Use mulch, layer gardening techniques, cover crops, or even fall plantings. Just don’t leave the ground bare to invite weeds and pests.
If you haven’t created one already, a DIY compost pile is a simple weekend effort that will yield excellent returns. Add organic materials like rotted vegetables, plant scraps, and leaves to create a mulch pile that can be used as compost at a later date. By the time the last of the harvest is gone from your garden, your compost and mulch will be ready to spread, enhancing the growing spaces for next year.
Lastly, don’t forget the most important thing water!!! The very best time to water plants is in the early morning, while it is still cool. This will allow the water to run down into the soil and reach the roots of the plant without too much excess water lost to evaporation. Watering in the early morning will also make the water available to the plants throughout the day so that the plants will be able to deal better with the heat of the sun.
Watering in the evening can allow moisture to their leaves staying wet overnight can cause disease. No plants should have their leaves wet deliberately in the evening, especially disease-prone ones like tomatoes, roses, and lilacs.