By Marge Bitetti
If you are feeling a little tired from the summer heat, think of how the heat effected your garden. This year the summer has brought elevated temperatures in many areas. As summer comes to an end it is time to look at your garden and determine what it needs to keep it looking beautiful.
It is time to harvest any remaining vegetables. It is also time to consider what and how much you will plant next season. Did your tomatoes and zucchini plants give you so much that you had to share veggies with friends and neighbors? Did your garden provide you with the harvest that you expected? What can you do next season to improve or decrease your harvest? Have your crops stopped producing, if so, it is time to start the end of summer clean up in your vegetable beds.
You will have a winter gold mine in your garden if you start winter crops this and next month. Yes, it might seem too hot to think about doing winter planting but if you plant winter vegetables crops it will save you money at the supermarket in the winter months.
You should continue to mulch your soil as you begin to pull out the summer plants that are wilting to the end. It is important to mulch the soil and control weeds. Types of mulch that you can purchase includes Shredded Hardwood, Wood Chips, Bark, Nuggets, Pine Needles/Pine Straw, Cocoa Shells, Stone, Shredded Rubber and Compost. The Green Thumb Garden experts can recommend the correct organic or inorganic mulch that is best for your soil and your garden’s needs. Here are a few of the advantages of these several types of mulch, Shredded Hardwood advantage is it comes in a variety of colors it easy to spread and holds up on slopes. The disadvantage of this type of mulch is that it can compact, keeping water and nutrients away from your plants. Wood Chips, Bark and Nuggets all are long lasting, and easy to apply to the soil. Cocoa Shells have a rich look and are lightweight. Stone and crushed gravel both are long lasting and can replace ground cover in drought-prone climates. Stone and crush gravel will not wash away like some of the lighter weight mulch types. Shredded Rubber is made from recycled material and will last for years. Compost is often homemade and free if you make your own compost. Using Compost adds nutrients and holds water to the soil. The most expensive types of mulch are stone, crushed gravel, and cocoa shells. The least expensive is compost because you can do DIY (do it yourself) however compost does not do a decent job of keeping out weeds.
It is important at the end of summer to keep your garden watered. Plants in containers might need a daily watering. Established plants and shrubs will benefit from slow deep watering. It is also important to mist plants in the garden to wash away spider mites. Look over your lawn it might be time to reseed the bare spots. You might consider a redesign on your lawn to reduce the size and at the same time conserve water. The Green Thumb professional landscape designers can offer you excellent advice on how to downsize your lawn and still maintain a beautiful yard.
Do you have fruit trees in your yard, if so the end of the summer season is a suitable time to remove about twenty percent of the tree’s new growth. Remember to clean up the debris around any fruit trees and pick up any dropped or rotting fruit. If you have apple trees attaching corrugated cardboard around the base of the apple tree will trap any moth larvae from harming the apple tree. The end of summer is also a suitable time to cut back hydrangeas, be sure to leave at least three buds per stem for beautiful spring blooms. Cut annuals and perennials by at least one-third. Trim ornamental hedges lightly. Prune off water sprouts from citrus and stone-fruit trees. Inactive buds on the main stem or branches of trees are created by exposure to light which produces epicormic shoots also known as water sprouts. These inactive shoots add unnecessary weight to the tree and makes it more susceptible to storm damage. These shoots are softer than the regular branches and because of the weakness are more prone to breakage and rot. The only way to eliminate this problem is to remove these shoots during the annual pruning and maintenance.
If you want to continue to harvest home grown vegetables in the winter now is the time to plant. A few vegetables to consider planting include beets, celery, leeks, radish, Swiss chard, spinach, and turnips. Does your garden need a burst of color? Plant Angelonia for a burst of color. It is a hardy perennial that can tolerate summer’s heat and humidity with no problem, making it a colorful addition to any sunny spot. The plant blooms with a showy burst deep violet-blue flowers from late spring to the first frosts and looks like small snapdragons. Some people says that the fragrance of these eye-catching. blossoms smell like apples or grape soda. You will have to determine for yourself what Angelonia smells like. Now is the time to plant Iris bulbs. These flowers are very tough and drought tolerant.
Plant iris in your yard in late summer to early fall for the beauty to burst forth in the spring. The word “iris” comes from the Greek word for “rainbow” which is a good description for the flower that offers such a wide range of color combinations. There are more than three hundred species and of this eye-catching flowering plant. The iris has been a valuable source of perfume ingredients and herbal medicines for centuries. Popular types of irises are the Dwarf Bearded Iris, Dwarf Crested Iris, Dutch Iris, Japanese Iris, Siberian iris, Yellow Flag Iris, and the Louisiana Iris. There are over three hundred species available, the iris family are perennials and will come back every year to add color and beauty to the garden.
In addition to Iris, you can also plant daffodil bulbs in August. Bulbs that have a full autumn and winter in the ground have the best chance to establish a healthy root system and burst forth vigorous growth and color in the spring. Other bulbs to plant in August and September include Anemone, Crocus, and Hyacinth. After purchasing bulbs be sure to store them in a cool, well-ventilated area until you are ready to plant them. Green Thumb Nurseries has a wide select of bulbs and experts that can provide advice on planting instructions.
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