I'm happy to report that summer's not over, but (sigh) it is fading fast. (To everything there is a season, yada, yada, yada.) There are a scant three (three!) precious weeks of summer left. So, fellow gardeners, let's make the most of them! Here are six items to put on your late summer garden bucket list.
1. Plant veggies.
Now is a great time to plant frost tolerant vegetables. In fact, they are likely to grow better in cooler temperatures and be tastier. Plant salad greens, kale, spinach, and Swiss chard for fall salads, soups and stir fries. Carrots and parsnips planted now will be ready for your Thanksgiving table. Also try broccoli, cauliflower, and bunching onions.
Curious about when frost will arrive in your neighborhood? Check out this frost predictor.
For those of you in areas that have a later frost date, run (don't walk) to your garden and sow some tomato seeds. With a bit of care you can have another harvest of tomatoes in six-eight weeks. Also try a second planting of summer squash and beans which take about the same amount of time to grow.
2. Grow flowers.
As days grow shorter and cooler your garden can still be a celebration of color and texture. Plant sunflowers, marigold, black eyed susans, and calendula for warm, summery colors in your garden. Violets and bachelor's buttons offer cooler colors that will make your garden stand out. Ornamental kale not only offers diverse texture but is also edible.
Marigolds and calendula are both edible which means that well into the fall you can serve up a mixed green salad adorned with gorgeous edible blooms.
3. Plant herbs.
For gardeners like me who are looking at predicted frost dates in mid-September planting basil, coriander and other tender herbs is not practical. However, chervil, chives, dill, and parsley are more cold tolerant.
By the way, replanting tender herbs in pots and bringing them inside will ensure they survive the colder months and be ready to return to your outdoor garden next spring.
Prepare for future seasons:
4. Harvest seeds.
Did you have a favorite tomato or pepper plant from this summer? Check out this guide on how to save those seeds for future growing seasons. Saving seeds is an easy and economical way to ensure next year's garden is chock full of yummy goodness.
5. Clean up your garden.
Divide perennials, dead head flowers, and prune.I'm not suggesting that you go all KonMari in your garden, but a bit of clean up work now will mean that you can get a jump start on planting next spring.
Check out this guide to learn how to successfully divide plants that have overgrown. Deadhead flowers that are past their prime and prune off dead branches.
6. Don't forget your soil.
Perhaps the very best thing you can do for your future garden is to invest in your soil now. Remove plants that are done producing. Turn in compost and add organic amendments such as seaweed and manure that will decompose over the winter and ensure your garden's ready to grow next spring.
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photo of raised bed via Shutterstock