by Donna Hagar, Somervell County Master Gardener
As the days get cooler and chances of rain return, we are all finding it to be far more enjoyable to be back in the garden. If you are like me, there are some chores that need to be done, as well as some fun things to get excited about!
First and foremost, if you haven’t cleaned up your summer veggie garden, now is the time to do so. Any dead or spent veggie plants can go straight to the compost, if they aren’t diseased.
If you are wanting some fall crops, there is still time but you will need to get on it PDQ. Add compost to your garden and work it in the top few inches.
There is still time for root veggies – beets, carrots, radishes, turnips and parsnips if you lean that way. Also greens such as collards, kale, lettuce, mustard, spinach and Swiss chard. Maybe now you will want to try some Chinese cabbage varieties, bok choi, tat soy or pak choi. And of course, get the garlic in! And as most people are unaware, cilantro is a cool season plant, so it goes in now, too.
Veggies not your thing? How about annuals for color? Pansies can go in, as well as pinks, dianthus, ornamental kale, snapdragons. Don’t forget, Swiss chard comes in many colors and withstands the winter quite well. If you haven’t eaten it before, give it a try! Mix some in with your landscape and save a trip or two to the grocery store for veggies! Spring flowering bulbs, daffodils and narcissus go in this month.
Fall is actually the ideal time for planting container grown trees and shrubs and many perennials. Getting them in now gives them several months head start to get their roots established before the spring growth and hot, dry summers next year.
Divide those perennials now, as well. Daylilies, iris, oxeye and Shasta daisies, coreopsis, purple coneflower all will handle a fall transplant or being passed along to some favorite friend. Leave ornamental grass inflorescence for fun winter color. Trim just before spring growth begins.
This is your last chance to get wildflower seeds out as well but get to it quick. Make sure there is good seed to soil contact for best germination. Fall rains and Mother Nature should take care of the rest.
And last but not least, mulch, mulch, mulch! Get a new 2-4” fresh layer of mulch on all those existing beds to protect it from potential early freezes! (Don’t cover seeds in the garden tho or they won’t sprout!) It also helps retain moisture thru the winter and prevents weed seeds from germinating. Just be sure to water those beds good before adding the mulch.