Sunday, August 8, 2010

How does your garden grow? Part 21: Late summer gardening.

Is it really the end of summer? I pretend it's summer until my Halloween decor clashes with my still blooming Geraniums. Is that wrong of me? I have a hard time letting go of summer every year. Well, since summer is still in full swing at my house here's what is on my to do list.

Water water water. Toward the end of summer the plants are completing their life cycle. This means that they have practically sucked every last drop of nutrients from the soil in which they live. The soil at the end of summer loses moisture rapidly. This is where you come in. You don't want your tomatoes to slow down on producing just when they are getting into their groove. I use soaker hoses. The cheapest ones I can find. Free is even better. Check Craigslist or Freecycle. Your garden/plants need a deep soak every few days this late in the season.

Feed. August is a great month to add more fertilizer. Or, heck, even your first dose could happen now. At this point in time the nutrients are pretty much depleted. I am constantly dumping my coffee grounds, eggshells, etc. into my garden. You can also find local fertilizer too. Doesn't hurt to ask around or search online.

Cut it back. You will be surprised how many plants you can practically cut back to half of its original size. I once had a Verbena that tipped over one too many times and then dried up a little too much. Well I nursed it and nursed it and fed it and fed it and it just was too mad at me to work it out on her own. So I was told to cut it back to less than half its size. That scared the pants off of me to do, but it worked. It was like a new start for this flower. Also, keep deadheading your flowers. They appreciate this very much. When you don't deadhead your blooming plant thinks it needs to start the reproductive cycle of going to seed. Instead of putting its energy into producing more flowers it produces seeds. You should not deadhead Mums anymore at this point so they their buds.

Plant some more! Like you don't already have your work cut out for you doing what you've been doing great all spring and summer long. Now I'm telling you to go plant more?! What's wrong with me? Ha ha. No, really. Go plant some seeds for plants that are all done. Like lettuce, radish, beets and spinach. They can handle a frost. Lettuce is easy to cover in case of a frost. I have not tried, but the Brassicas family (think Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and Cabbage) does well this time of year too and hold up quite well after a frost. You could probably find some plants for almost free at garden centers. Peonies are best planted during late summer and early fall. Garlic also needs to be planted in fall. Best you wait until closer to first frost.

There is still a lot of summer left and loads of work to be done. Pretty soon we will be making salsa, stewing tomatoes and picking pumpkins. What else do you do to your garden or yard toward the end of summer?

No comments: