One Last Thing: put your garden to bed.

Chocolate Cherry Sunflower

Chocolate Cherry Sunflower is attracting gold finches and butterflies. photo PBH

If the sun and drought has sucked out the last of your love for gardening, there is still one last chore before you call it quits.

Put your gardens to bed.

Chocolate Cherry Sunflower

Chocolate Cherry Sunflower (Renee's Garden Seeds) tired and ragged from the long, hot summer. photo PBH

First, clean up and remove all evidence of disease or damage. Do not add this to your compost pile.

Add chopped leaves, grass, compost or other healthy organic matter. Work it in to those top 6 inches of soil. I say six inches, I’ve never actually measured it. I mean about as deep as my hand it long.

I use a garden hoe or hand trowel for  cleaning and weeding beds. (Tool choice depends on whether I am sitting, standing, or kneeling.)

Add organic matter.

Spread organic matter on your raised beds. Gently mix the organic matter into the top few inches of the garden soil. Leave it loose (no smoothing or flattening.) This is a good time to pick out rocks and roots.

For working around established survivors (AKA, perennials), like roses, tarragon, and lavender, I work in the compost with the Cobrahead, taking care not to damage the roots.

Add more organic matter.

Then, cover the raised bed with mulch (I happen to have lots of chopped leaves and pine straw.) You can add layers of newspaper followed by shredded newspaper, bagged compost, fine wood chips, or shreaded leaves for example.

Yes, I said add stuff and add more stuff.

At this point you can choose to add a green cover crop* or not. Adding more green matter to your garden can only improve your garden soil. On the other hand, if the summer heat has burned, toasted and shriveled you to a crisp, stop here. Good Job. The bed will be ready, resting and waiting for spring.

The point here is to never leave the garden soil bare. Preparing the garden bed now will give you a couple of weeks jump of the 2012 garden season.

Trees

If you have young or newly planted trees, make sure they are well watered, add a two or three inch layer of compost, then a couple of inches os mulch. No need to add commercial fertilizer. The compost is feeding the tree. The mulch is holding in the moisture and limiting sudden temperature changes.

*Cover crops is a whole other post. And I am going out to enjoy this fall day. More later.

 The big success in my garden this year: Dragon Wing® Red Begonia by Proven Winners. More, Later.

dragon wing red begonia

Faithful bloomer all summer this begonia is tired and burned from heat and drought.

 

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