It’s over 100 degrees most afternoons and the garden plants are hanging droopily their greenery as if to curl up and protect themselves from the brutal late summer heat. Nevertheless, some chores still need to be done in the garden, but please do so in the cool mornings or late dusk. 

1. Continue to prune and remove played out flower stalks and unattractive growth on flowering plants. Look for vigorous new growth at the base, and when you see it, cut back the plant hard, as in cutaway 3/4 if the height and width. You will be rewarded with vibrant, thick fall blooms all the way till the first freeze.

2. Stake and support perennials that need it. I like using my leftover tomato cages. Even vigorous summer annuals like zinnias need crutches sometimes!

3. Straighten a leaning plant by wedging a brick or paver at the base.

4. Dig our unwanted growth outside the allotted areas for plants that spread by underground stems. You can pot and replant these runners to share with friends and neighbors.

5. When vegetables and herbs are finished producing, pull up or cut way back. Throw discarded plants into your compost pile. Mulch the vacant areas heavily, 4-6 inches, with grass clippings, chopped straw, or other organic materials on hand to prepare the soil for fall gardening. However, if your spent vegetation was diseased, like a southern blight on tomatoes, do not add to the compost pile!

The days are gradually shortening so take advantage of this in-between gardening season by noting your observations of how your garden thrived/survived this summer. 

Gardening is a constant ebb and flow of learning experiences. We learn from our mistakes probably more than from our successes!

Which planting was your shining star this summer?

I walk through the garden,

On this warm summer’s day.

To smell the flowers,

That grandma raised.

Lois E. Felder