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Preparing for Fall: Late August

Summer may be wrapping up but there’s still plenty you can do before we return to months of rain. Here’s a few things you can do to keep your garden fresh.

Plant

Plant annuals. With a couple of months of nice weather still ahead, you can plant annual flowers for a good, long show. Cloeus and begonias add seasonal color and grow well in partial shade. Marigolds, pelargoniums and zinnias add color to sunny spots.

Maintain

Pick herbs in the morning (just after the dew has dried). Pluck the leaves and dry them on a clean window screen in a cool and dry spot. Store in airtight jars for ongoing use in your kitchen! Gather warm-season crops to add flavor and variety to home cooking! Loads of edibles are ripening now and each gives its own clues to when it’s ready. Here are some signs we keep our eye out for:

  • Cantaloupe: Cantaloupe is fully ripe when the skin becomes netted and turns yellowish-grey. A ripe fruit will easily separate from the vine when you lift and twist.
  • Corn: After the skin has withered, peel back the husk and pop a kernel with your thumbnail. If the juice is watery, it’s too early; if paste, too late; if milk, just right.
  • Summer Squash Including Zucchini: Pick at any time before they get too big to handle.

Water moisture-loving plants, like rhododendrons, every week to ten days (more in extra-hot weather or if the soil is fast draining) and hose off foliage. Don’t forget about water consciousness and make sure the plants really need it!

If you’re interested in making compost, now is the time to do it. Alternate layers of grass and garden clippings and non-meat kitchen waste in a pile about 4’ wide. Water the pile and turn it once a week to make your very own compost for your fall garden!