What to do in your garden


Autumn bloom. Shop nurseries now for fall-blooming perennials such as asters, chrysanthemums, and purple coneflowers.

Crops for fall harvest. Sow these seeds directly in the ground now: beets, broccoli, bush beans, carrots, chard, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, and spinach. You can get an autumn crop of potatoes if you plant by July 4.

Lawns. Sunset climate zones A2, A3: Sow new turf grass, overseed worn spots, or lay sod early this month so it will be established by the time hard freezes come. Use Kentucky bluegrass in sunny areas, red fescue in shade.

Summer color. For flowers or colorful foliage from now through frost, set out bedding begonias, Calibrachoa, coleus, cosmos, impatiens, marigolds, petunias, and zinnias.


Divide bearded irises. As foliage starts to turn brown, stop watering. When leaves are mostly withered, trim them back to fans, then dig and divide rhizomes (thick horizontal roots) with a sharp knife or spade. Let the rhizomes dry in the shade for a few days before replanting in amended soil.

Feed mums. To stimulate fall bloom, use a high-phosphorus liquid fertilizer every three weeks until buds start to show color. Once the first blooms open, feed weekly.

Fertilize strawberries. Feed June-bearing strawberries with 2 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet after plants stop producing. Do the same for everbearing strawberries when fruit production slackens.

Keep harvesting. Annual flowers and seed-bearing vegetables like tomatoes all produce longer if you keep deadheading spent blooms and picking ripe fruit.

Keep plants hydrated. Start by spreading a 3-inch layer of organic mulch to hold in moisture and keep down water-stealing weeds. In most soils (clay is the exception), it’s better to water deeply and less often.

Maintain fuchsias. Though bloom tends to slack off during hot weather, you can keep flowers coming by clipping off spent blossoms. Fuchsias in containers benefit from feeding every two weeks with liquid fertilizer.

Spread mulch around shrubs. Put a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch such as leaf mold or shredded bark over the root zones of shrubs, especially azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons.

Weed. Hoe young weeds on a warm, dry morning, and the sun will kill them by evening. Pull up mature weeds by their taproots when the soil is still damp after watering.