Are you ready for a change of seasons? Autumn officially starts on Thursday, Sept. 22, a day later than the traditional first day of fall. But that date marks the autumnal equinox, when the hours of day and night are equal. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the equinox officially arrives at 7:21 a.m.. Also, it’s time to check your compass; on Thursday, the sun rises due east and sets due west.
It’s also time to put full focus on preparing the fall garden for the cooler growing season ahead.
▪ First, cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish it for fall planting.
▪ Plant cool-season vegetables such as bok choy, spinach, peas, radishes, carrots and lettuce; the warm ground will get these fall crops off to a fast start.
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▪ Transplant seedlings for lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale.
▪ Sow California poppy seeds for a golden spring display.
▪ Transplant cool-weather annuals such as calendula, cyclamen, fairy primroses, pansies and violas.
▪ Dig, divide and replant overgrown perennials after they finish blooming. Weed and amend flower beds before replanting.
▪ Divide and replant bulbs and rhizomes. Pay attention to your bearded iris; they like to be divided and replanted every three years to keep blooming.
▪ Put tulip and hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator for six weeks before planting. Bulbs chilled now will be ready to plant in mid-November. While chilling bulbs, keep apples out of the refrigerator; the fruit releases ethylene gas that may rot the bulbs.