Plan Now To Enjoy Fall Crops And Cozy Nights

Is it just me? Can you believe August is over? Despite all the talk about classes starting soon, advertisements for sweaters and a general shift in the air, I can’t believe September is here.

Maybe it is because I rarely left my bubble and haven’t had my usual getaway trips, but whatever the reason, I need to buck up and enjoy the last days of summer.

In the garden, this means harvesting herbs, bringing in bouquets and planting fall greens. Yes, we still have time to plant a second round of some vegetables.

This week, I seeded leaf lettuce, spinach and carrots. I tried to grow carrots in the spring — let’s just say I won’t be sharing pictures of that crop, but I will try again this fall. As in the spring, lettuce and spinach can be planted in rows or mixed between the perennials in garden beds.

There is still time to plant mustard, collards, beets and radishes. Kale, Swiss chard and collards can survive the first cool temps of fall and provide fresh greens for your fall feasts. Plant garlic this fall for a harvest next summer.

Now is the time to save seeds. If you have never been a seed saver, it’s easy. I started with saving the seed pods of hyacinth bean vines. Once the pod dries, the black and white seeds are tucked away until spring. I have a friend who has developed her own marigolds and generously shares the seeds with me each year. That is the great thing about gardeners — we love to share.

This is also a good time to practice weed control. You want to get them before they go to seed. I am battling chickweed that is trying to invade my front grass. It has shallow roots and can easily be pulled from the ground, but I admit I’m attacking it with a spray and hoping that just maybe I can get new grass growing before winter.

Another weed that is worth waging war against is Japanese stilt grass. I have a neighbor who laughs and says it’s all green when mowed short enough, but I want it gone. I suggest weeding after the rain when the ground is soft and there is a much better chance of removing all the roots.

Although I’m not quite ready to plants mums and asters, I have begun to freshen up plantings by trimming and deadheading to give them a boost for the next few weeks. I am taking cues from my garden mentor, who has been busy transplanting irises and ferns to create a new border around her existing vegetable area. I have been moving small plantings to fill in a stone garden path. Here in Zone 6, plants should be able to get adjusted to a new home and settle in before our first frost.

Speaking of frost and cooler evenings, this might be a good time to think about how you are using your outdoor spaces and what you need to make them fall friendly. Outdoor spaces have been our sanity savers this spring and summer. Is this the year to install a fire pit? Add extra seating for comfy nights with marshmallows, blankets and pillows? Maybe even an outdoor projector and screen?

Here at the little house on a big hill, I have added more outdoor string lights and lanterns with candles. All in an attempt to extend my living space and provide areas for social distance gatherings throughout the fall.

When thinking of the ways you will adapt your space for cooler and darker evenings, make plans now. We learned throughout this year that items on our shopping list may be hard to find, so make your plans and shop early. 2020 was the year many people started or expanded their gardens. Now with extra produce and extra time, canning has gained popularity. I’ve heard supplies such as jars and lids are scarce. The same goes for fall bulbs. It’s a little early to plant spring blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and such, but it might be a good idea to shop now. If you do purchase them early, keep them in a cool, dry spot until October when it will be time to plant.

I am not rushing the seasons. I try to live in the moment, yet be prepared for the future. I’ve made jelly, frozen homemade pesto and blanched vegetables to enjoy in the winter months. I am lingering a bit longer in the evening air, stopping to let the sunshine soak in, all while slowly readying my garden for the long list of fall chores. September is a busy month for gardeners, but don’t forget to take the time to rest and enjoy the small luxuries of summer’s remaining days.