Gardeners in our area shouldn’t lament the end of summer. There is still plenty of growing season left as we look at fall – in fact, now is a great time to get started. You can still have abundant color and even some new vegetables before it’s time to mulch over your favorite garden bed.
Of course, this time of year is popular for Chrysanthemums; a favorite hostess gift at Thanksgiving time that will last a long time indoors before needing to be transplanted outside. They come in all kinds of colors from yellows, oranges, rusts to purples, and although often considered an annual (loosely defined as only blooming at a specific time, once a year), they’ll come back like a perennial (returning year after year) with a bit of care. These bushy floral displays are fairly hardy and can be found inexpensively in a variety of sizes.
Coneflowers are great at this time, still attracting a few butterflies. Speaking of butterflies, Butterfly Bush, or Buddleia will often add a bit of purple or white to your outdoors as will hydrangeas still blooming from summer.
Snapdragons will brighten up any annual bed this time of year, their spikey heads popping up over multi-colored gazania, pansies and violas will add some character to your space. Marigolds and coreopsis add more fall yellows, oranges and even reds (marigolds) and many varieties of ornamental sunflowers will still have time to bloom. Mexican and Russian sage still has time to provide color and will add some green background as well as supply those lingering hummingbirds with some snacks.
As for your vegetable garden, you don’t need to throw in the trowel yet (pun intended!) and bury everything in mulch. There’s still plenty of time for salad greens, kales and spinach. Rainbow chard even makes a nice ornamental among some of the flowers.
Radishes will do fine as will carrots; just don’t forget to water them as it gets cooler. Beets and beet greens grow well now and make a tasty accompaniment to any fall feast, as do leeks, collards, and mustards. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts (gulp!) although they take longer to mature will do well.
All of these can be started from seed right now either indoors or out. If you start them outside, just be sure not to let tender new leaves scorch in the last few hot days of summer.
So get out there, gardeners.
We live in a great area to be able to plant and grow all year round so enjoy the milder weather days and look forward to a whole “new” season of growing and feasting!
Patricia Brantley is a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Fairfield. If you have gardening questions, call the Master Gardener’s office at 784-1322.