Beat the Spring Rush
Thinking about expanding the vegetable garden or flower beds next year? Get a head start this year by cleaning the area of sod and/or weeds, either by hand or with an herbicide. Then, dig or till in plenty of compost. Mulch heavily or plant a cover crop for the winter, such as buckwheat or winter rye. Next spring, till again, incorporating fertilizer and lime as needed. The area is then ready for planting.
Expand Your Fall Color Choices
Fall-blooming chrysanthemums are readily available now for adding color to the garden, but there are other options that garden centers and other plant outlets are offering now. Look for blooming-size plants of annual gaillardias, such 'Indian Summer' or 'Becky', and the purple-leaved pennisetum. Pansies, especially the 'Icicles', are another good choice, and the ornamental kales provide color into early winter. And don't forget fall-blooming bulbs.
Check Soil Moisture
Although spring and summer provided plenty of natural moisture in our region, rainfall was spotty in August. September and October are normally fairly dry, so be sure to water trees and shrubs planted this spring at least once a week. Even established garden areas can benefit from a thorough weekly soaking. Put an empty tin can under the sprinkler or soaker hose to determine how much water has been applied.
Spruce Up the Garden
Although it's not time for the final fall cleanup, you can begin now by cutting back ragged-looking perennials, including cutting off faded flowers, diseased foliage, and slug-damaged leaves. Add mulch where it has become thin. Divide overgrown daylilies, Oriental poppies, and phlox. Peonies thrive for years in the same spot, but if blooms have become sparse, it's an indication that clumps may be overcrowded. Dig up and divide.
A bumper crop of fall-bearing raspberries makes it worth preserving some of them by freezing. Within two hours of picking, sort through the berries, removing any that are bruised or showing signs of mold. Do not wash the berries before freezing them. Place firm, ripe berries on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in a freezer. When the berries are hard, put into freezer bags or boxes. With bags, gently remove excess air before sealing.