September 3, 2012

Time for end of summer garden cleanup

We’re coming close to the end of another challenging summer for flower and vegetable gardens. 

Last year, it was the wet spring and fall; this time, it’s the relentless hot and dry weather. Plants that received plenty of extra water have done pretty well, but in many situations, water has been scant to none. I’ve been dragging hoses around our yard all summer, doling out water where it’s needed most. 

Now it’s time to focus on the plants that are still doing well and cut back or completely remove those that are done for the year. Even though you’ll have fewer plants left in your garden, those that remain will be the attraction for the fall season. I’ll start with pointers for cleaning up your flower gardens, then move on to the vegetable garden.


The hot, dry weather this summer created ideal conditions for spider mites and leafhoppers. My phlox and fall blooming helianthus have been devoured by these tiny menaces. I got a so-so flower show out of my phlox, but my helianthus, which do most of their blooming in September, are a lost cause this year. Both are perennials, so I’m just going to cut these bedraggled plants right to the ground and hope for better conditions next year. My bee balm is alive but parched from the lack of rain, so that’s getting cut down as well.

Go ahead and cut any of your perennials that aren’t good right to the ground any time now. They’ll be back next year. By removing the above-ground parts of these brown, straggling plants, my remaining plants will look much better. I cut my baptisia completely to the ground in mid-July, and it’s now a beautiful mound of lush, green foliage. My sedum “Autumn Joy” is just beginning to open its bronze flower heads, and I even have a few delphinium pushing up flower stalks for a second time.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time