Regional Gardening Guide - Zone 9-10
September 1 to September 31-- Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.
Here’s what’s happening in your gardening region:
It is gardening time yet again in zones 9 and 10, and the (relatively) cooler weather will be here before you know it. Now is the time to get pumped up about your back yard’s potential and get it ready for a Fall filled with flavor and festive flowers. Improve the overall design of your garden by planning your plantings and maximizing your space. Grow warm-season veggies and flowers, and perfect your tomato-growing skills. Bring the colors of fall foliage to your doorstep with a container combination of flowers and foliage. There is a lot to do in the cooler hours of the day, and even more to look forward to in fall, so start enjoying your garden again. Get out there and plant something fun today.
Your Regional reporter
Steve Asbell is an illustrator, the author of Plant by Numbers and blogger of The Rainforest Garden.
To see what Steve's doing in his garden. Click Here!
1. Hone your garden design skills
Are you frustrated by your garden? Do you sometimes seriously consider hiring a professional to take over? Garden designers are indispensable if you have the resources, but the rest of us aren’t so lucky. Or are we? With a little research, inspiration and elbow grease, you can something beautiful enough to fool the neighbors into thinking that you hired a pro after all. Start by staggering your plantings, keeping tall plants at the back of the bed and shorter ones such as annuals and groundcovers, at the front. If you’re short on space, choose appropriate plants with tall, vining or columnar habits and consider vertical structures like trellises and pergolas to not only save space, but provide dimension and interest. Plant a variety of flowers and evergreens to ensure that each season gets its share of blooms and foliage
2. Plant festive flowers for fall color
Fall foliage is either nonexistent or anticlimactic in our growing area, so plant flowers and foliage plants that give the same autumn look without the messy leaves. Plant flower seeds now to create a front-door container combination to remind yourself and visitors that it is indeed fall, despite the tropical blooms and palm trees. Gather your materials: Coir pots, seed starting mix, a large pot and seeds. ‘Summer Poinsettia’ amaranth, sweet marigold and nasturtiums are ideal because the amaranth stands tall in the back with fiery crimson foliage, while the orange to gold-colored nasturtiums billow over the edge of the pot. Sweet marigold makes an excellent ‘filler’ plant with its bushy form, fragrant leaves and bright, golden yellow blooms. Plant the a few seeds in each coir pot, allow them to develop several leaves and sturdy stems, and then transplant them to the large pot. Thin out excess plants as they fill in, and prune as needed to keep plants from taking over one another. Plant any extra seedlings in coir pots directly in the garden, or start another container combination.
3. Make a children's garden
It might be a little hot outside for gardening with kids, but there are a lot of fun garden projects that you can do in the meantime. Kids love to paint anything from wood and sticks to rocks and milk jugs, and are eager to exercise their imaginations by building creative homes for insects, toads, and even fairies. Kids also love to have a plot to call their own. Pick a safe place for your kid’s garden and begin clearing out weeds and debris now. Never use herbicides for an edible garden. If you’re not planting yet, cover the plot with flattened cardboard boxes to prevent weed seeds from sprouting. Weigh them down until you’re ready to plant. Once your seeds or seedlings are standing by, add bags of composted manure and topsoil and help your child begin planting. Keep little shoes clean by mulching with pine straw or better yet, paint stepping stones together to add their unique sense of style. Whatever you do, don’t forget that it’s their garden and that you’re doing this to learn, not get a big crop. It’s called a children’s garden for a reason!
4. Plant your best tomato ever
They’re America’s favorite vegetable, and probably yours as well. There are tomatoes for every taste on the Burpee website, but if you want really big, juicy, picture perfect tomatoes you’ll have to give them extra attention. On the eastern side of zones 9 and 10 there are issues like nematodes and wilt viruses that will eventually rear their ugly head in your garden, leading to a loss of vigor and eventually death. Wherever you grow, the trick with tomatoes is to give them consistent moisture, lots of sun, extra support and fertilizer. You can get a few tomatoes with a hands-off approach, but keep them healthy to stave off pests and diseases. Grow vines through supports like trellises or cages to keep the plants upright and allow air circulation to prevent diseases. Pull weeds often and watch closely on a regular basis to pick of hornworms or other pests by hand as they appear.
5. Plant a flavor garden
An herb garden provides your kitchen with a constant variety of flavors, envelops your garden with a heavenly aroma and even provides cut flowers and foliage for the home. Grow herbs amongst your ornamental annuals and perennials, or incorporate them into your foundation planting. Grow thyme as a groundcover, rosemary as a clipped shrub and lemongrass as an architectural accent plant. To keep herbs at the ready for a last-minute pinch, grow them in window boxes or containers. To make your herb garden even more fun, group herbs by cuisine and purpose so that you know exactly where to go for that authentic taste. If you find yourself using a few herbs more than the rest, plant more seeds as you pick away at your supply.
BasilBasil is considered the premiere culinary herb and has a marvelous variety of flavors to choose from. The bushy basil plants, especially the purple-leaved types, also look great in the flower garden.