Gardening With Laurie: It's time for fall gardening
By Laurie Garretson
September is here, and this usually means that the stressfully hot days of summer will slowly begin to turn into somewhat cooler days of fall. Foliage will begin to show some signs of color change; the days will get shorter; and the morning temperatures will be delightfully lower. We can all begin to work outdoors again without fear of heatstroke.
Fall is a wonderful time for gardening. I think fall gardening is even better than spring. Spring weather is short-lived around here. Fall weather can last for several months, if we're lucky. Who knows, this year, we could have another cold winter.
I've had many reports from folks saying that they had very successful spring gardens. Well, now's the time to repeat that success, or if you didn't have a spring garden, to try planting a fall garden. Lower temperatures make all vegetables sweeter and tastier. And cold actually bring out the sugars in the vegetables.
PLANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT
There are so many different varieties of all sorts of seeds available to us now days. If you like beets, try planting some of the different colored varieties. There are now even striped beets. When planting your beet seeds, try broadcasting them in wide rows. Beets will grow better when they have room to produce bigger root systems. Narrow beds can't provide this. Wider rows grow better beets, require less weeding and less mulching.
Have you ever grown kohlrabi? This member of the cabbage family is fast becoming a fall garden favorite. Kohlrabi not only tastes good raw or cooked, it's a nice decorative plant as well. It could certainly be planted in flower beds right along side pansies and dianthus.
Let me back up for just a minute. One common thing that happens to many of us gardeners is a lack of garden space. I have been guilty of this so many times. I keep finding different types of seeds or plants that I want to try, and before I know it, I've run out of garden space. Oh well, who says you can't plant your vegetables with the shrubs and annuals?
TRY DIFFERENT TYPES OF ANNUALS
Annuals can add lots of color to an otherwise mostly green environment. One common annual that's many times grown in vegetable gardens, are marigolds. But how about adding some calendulas this fall? These orange and yellow edible flowers make great cut flowers and can brighten up your vegetable garden. Sow calendula seeds in full sun along side some of your vegetables. Be sure to cover calendula seeds completely, because they do need total darkness to germinate.
Fall is a season for all kinds of colorful annuals. Any yard can come alive with colorful snapdragons, sweet alyssum, pansies and petunias, just to name a few. All these can be easily grown from seeds or transplants. For best results when growing from seed, place the seeds in the refrigerator for two weeks prior to planting. Then plant according to the seed packet suggestions.
If you like garden mums now is the season for you. Chrysanthemums grow well in the fall. Now is the time to be feeding them on a regular basis, at least every week or two. Once you begin to see buds form on the plants you can pinch off the auxiliary, or side flower buds. Leave only the terminal buds, the buds at the end of each stem. Doing this will produce larger blooms.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to email@example.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.