Fall is a lot like spring only better, from the Whistling Gardener

In this last week of August take stock of your beds and if you are ready to pull out the summer annuals then do it now, spade in some new compost and organic fertilizer.
Fall is for planting. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

It’s hard to believe that I am talking about fall when it is still high summer and there is a good one to two months left of decent weather.

But the fact is that our growers are ready to deliver their fall crops which means pansies, violas, mums, asters, cabbage and kale, fall veggies, fall blooming perennials and even daffodils and tulips are all ready to purchase and plant into our gardens for the fall and winter months ahead.

It’s time to start thinking about planting again and that’s a good thing. If we wait until late October to replant our beds the soils have already cooled down and the results are often disappointing.

September and October are a lot like April and May in that it’s a very good time to plant, even better perhaps than the spring months.

Soils are warm and not saturated like they can be in spring and there is no danger of frost.

Like I have mentioned in past columns, planting this time of year is smart and all it takes to be successful is getting plenty of water down around the new root ball.

Deep watering is the key to success in summer and fall.

In this last week of August take stock of your beds and if you are ready to pull out the summer annuals then do it now, spade in some new compost and organic fertilizer and let the beds breathe for a week or two while you think about what you want to plant for the fall.

Same holds true for containers. Yank out the tired stuff, fluff up the potting soil and add some new along with some food and let it air out.

This little respite will also help break up insect cycles and reduce future infestations.

We’ve been blessed this summer to have a good hard rain in both July and August but remember that it takes a full inch of water per week to keep our gardens looking their best.

Don’t slack off on the watering now unless you are done for the season.

It’s never too late to prune. I do a little pruning almost every month of the year.

In the spring it is “heavy” pruning and as the season progresses it becomes “light” pruning until this time of year it is just a little shaping and thinning.

Just remember that you can thin trees almost any time and hedges can be sheared now provided it isn’t too radical.

Time to replant the veggie garden. Replace your summer crops with a new planting of leaf crops like lettuce and spinach, Swiss chard, onions, garlic, radishes and Cole crops like broccoli.

Most of these can be found on our benches now or on the seed racks.

Don’t forget to replenish the soil with organic fertilizer and compost before you plant.

If your fruit trees limbs are bending down to the ground then be sure to prop up the branches with some poles.

While you are fiddling around be sure and remove all those water sprouts now instead of waiting until this winter and inspect for tent caterpillar egg cases.

Remove them now to reduce spring infestations.

Finally, watch for my September check list next week so you know what to do in the month of September.

And remember to enjoy these last days of summer.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at


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