Late Summer Gardening Tips

What to plant at this time of year? For those who have vegetable gardens, now is the time to plant selected vegetables for harvest this fall. Here is a list of plants that will grow from seeds planted now: lettuce, radishes, spinach, carrots, beets, peas, mustard greens, turnips, collard greens, Swiss chard and kale. The Swiss chard and kale will last well into the winter and most likely into the spring. Asparagus can be planted now, though I have always planted it in the spring.

The most important vegetable to plant now (providing that you like it, of course) is garlic. It needs time before the ground freezes to make roots but, if planted before the end of October, will produce good bulbs in the spring. If you like garlic, some research into the many kinds is worthwhile and very interesting. As with most (but not all) of the seeds, tubers, sets and garlics I plant, I use Johnny’s Seeds but there are other good sources…use the Internet. Order as soon as possible as they sometimes run out, and plant in October. Planting instructions will accompany the order.

This is the time to order bulbs for the spring, but hurry. For bulbs, I use Brent and Becky’s Bulbs and cannot imagine using any other source except for very exotic bulbs that they may not have. There are many kinds of bulbs to plant from crocus to nectaroscordium(!) This catalogue and any other good one will tell you the size of the bulb (large is best), the height of the flower, when it blooms where to plant it and its color and shape. All of these facts are noteworthy when deciding what to buy and where to plant them. Brent and Becky have a very informative chart listing soil types, sun needs, moisture needs and possible uses: in the lawn, beds or in pots or boxes.

There is other information to be gleaned from a good bulb source. If you want tulips that will come up for a few years, buy Darwin or species types. Tulips have been hybridized so much over their years of popularity that they have lost their vigor and are used by gardeners usually as annuals: removed and thrown away after blooming. Species tulips are older varieties and are often shorter and smaller. They are wonderful to experiment with and I like to plant another variety each year. They are the “up close and personal” tulips.

It is a general belief that daffodils come up year after year and each bulb produces more flowers each year. Not so….When reading the description, look for the words perennial zing. (This is why one needs a good catalogue)  These types can be purchased as a single type or in a mixture. The mixtures include many types and varied blooming times. They are great to plant in drifts for an extended display. Other useful words to notice and use are: Good for bedding (these are good for one bloom only). Good for the south (not all bulbs are). Good for pots. (Pots planted now for the spring with or without other plants) Species or heirloom, (useful for reconstruction or heritage gardens). Forcing the process of potting bulbs for use in the house during the winter. Planting bulbs for the spring now is a great present to give yourself as the work is done now and in the spring wonderful things happen, seemingly by themselves.

This is also the time to divide summer blooming perennials (thereby increasing the plants in your garden for free), those plants that have outgrown their allotted spaces or maybe smaller ones that were planted next to a plant that has become larger than expected. Bearded iris and peonies can be divided and/or moved now, as can shrubs. Trees and shrubs can be planted now, and this is the time to shop as many of the plant places have sales.

Be sure to know the planting requirements of the plants you are dividing, moving or newly planting, as this will ensure that they have a good start.
After the late summer slowdown, work done now will reward the gardener in the spring.

Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener and consultant, for gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067.

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