You may want to savor the remaining days of valuable Seattle summer while they last, but time is ticking on and it’s important to keep up with your garden as we look ahead to the end of summer and the coming, colder months. Here’s some tips to make sure you make the most of your garden while it’s still nice out:
As Seattle summers get hotter and dryer, it’s important to strike a balance between keeping your plants hydrated and conserving water. Remember: most plants die from overwatering, not underwatering
A good rule of thumb is to only water your plants when they look like they need it. Watering deeply instead of frequently will promote resilient root growth and toughen up plants’ drought resistance. If unsure, use a tool to check the top 2-3 inches of soil. If they’re dry: it’s time to water.
You can also protect your plants with a layer of organic mulch, which will trap in moisture, minimize evaporation, and limit unsightly weeds that also compete for water. Keeping your plants well nourished with “plant food” from nurseries will also prepare them to survive drought conditions.
If you’re looking to plant a Pacific Northwest garden that can survive on limited water, give us a call at 206-551-9872.
It’s best to collect herbs when they’re at their peak. Pluck their leaves in the morning, just after dew has dried, and dry them on a clean window screen in a cool, dry spot. You can store them in airtight jars for ongoing use in your kitchen.
Many edible plants are ripe around this time. You can tell corn is ready after the silk has withered and if the juice from a popped kernel is milky. If the juice is watery, you’re too early; if it’s pasty, you’re too late. Summer squash like zucchini are easier to handle, just pick them anytime before they’re too large to handle.
After harvesting berries, make sure to prune back the bushes. This will help keep them healthy, and you may get an even larger crop next year!
Some argue that Seattle summers don’t really begin until July and continue through September. Take advantage of the late summer warmth by planting annuals. Impatiens, coleus and begonias grow well in partial shade. Marigolds, pelargoniums and zinnias add color to sunny spots.
You can also start replacing early summer vegetables with fall crops. This is a good time for leafy vegetables and you can start on “cole crops” like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Northwest Edible Life has a handy cheat sheet of what crops you can sow in this “month of plenty.”
Prepare for the coming seasons
It’s never too early to start thinking about your soil. If you’re planning a fall garden, now’s the time to throw down some compost to prepare your spot. And now’s also the time to throw down a cover crop to protect your soil from the harsh winter months. WSU has created this handy chart (pdf) to help figure out which is best for you:
Speaking of compost, it’s a great time to make your own. Alternate layers of grass, garden clippings and kitchen waste (no meat) in a pile about four feet wide. Water the pile alongside your plants and turn it once a week to have it ready for fall.
Watch out for heat
Plants need water and so do you. The heat can sneak up on you when you’re in the garden, especially if you’re used to the cooler temperatures of the Puget Sound Region. Make sure you take plenty of breaks for shade and water when working outdoors.
Signs of heat stress include nausea, muscle cramps and dizziness, among other symptoms. The best thing you can do is move to a cool place, like indoors, and lower your body temperature.
Always make sure to cover up with a hat and/or sunscreen while working outdoors and listen to your body. Gardening is supposed to be fun!