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Extending Your Garden’s Life Throughout the Fall

Even in Northern Arizona, where frosts come as late as mid-June and as early as September, gardening does not have to be a summer-only activity.

There’s a lot of life left in your garden at this time of year and plenty to do, including enjoying what you’ve already planted, getting some new flowers and vegetables in the ground for fall abundance, and planning for next year.

First, take a look at what you’ve already got in your garden.

You’ll probably have flowers and veggies that are still producing, and there’s plenty you can do to extend their season. Deadhead flowering plants to encourage those last few blooms, and break out the plant protectors, like frost cloth or the plastic rings you fill with water to insulate plants when the temperatures drop.

For plants that are done for the season, you’ll want to do some cleanup. Remove finished annual plants. In addition to keeping your garden neat and making room for fall plantings, it will also deter bugs and prevent disease from spreading.

If you have overgrown perennial flowers in your garden, dig them out, separate and replant to encourage healthy growth next year. Although there’s a nip in the air, our soil is still pretty warm, which reduces the potential for transplant shock.

Also remember to pick up any fallen fruit from fruit trees and feed everything – trees, shrubs, flowers and edibles. They still need the nutrition, even this late into the growing season. 

Now, consider some new plantings. Beautiful fall flowers are in abundance at this time of year. From mums to asters to the second wave of hardy violas, there’s lots of colorful fall flora to add to your garden beds or containers.

Fall is also a perfect time for putting in new shrubs and trees. In fact, many experts prefer fall planting to spring. The benefits are that the ground is still warm enough for smooth transplanting, but the tree or shrub won’t be stressed by extreme summer heat.

Additionally, the ground is wonderfully saturated from the monsoon rains, and this encourages deep root growth. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about watering! You should always make sure any newly planted plants get daily watering, regardless of the time of year or rain levels.

There are also a whole slew of vegetables that thrive in the fall. Think arugula and broccoli, spinach and kale, onions and radishes. Many of them will germinate within 30 days and can stand a light frost, but your best bet, if you are growing from seed, is to find out the growth rate and calculate the time needed to grow versus the first expected frost. In the Flagstaff area, that can range from late September to mid-October, depending on your section of town.

Finally, there is one more thing you should be planting, although you won’t get to see the results until next year: bulbs.

If you want tulips, crocuses, hyacinth, irises and daffodils next spring, you need to get their bulbs in the ground now. I can’t tell you how often we get people in March asking if we have daffodils they can plant.

We hope you enjoy the end of summer and the beginning of one of my favorite seasons: fall. If you need any help with making the transition and extending your garden throughout the new season, please call or visit Warner’s Nursery – we’ll be glad to help.

Happy Gardening! FBN

By Misti Warner

Misti Warner-Andersen is the manager of Warner’s Nursery & Landscape Co., located at 1101 E. Butler Ave. in Flagstaff. To contact Warner’s Nursery, call 928-774-1983.

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