ELAINE CERNY: MY GARDEN PATH — Bring on a nice long Indian summer

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ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press This tuberous begonia produces lots of pretty flowers.

I don’t see how it’s possible that we’re into September. This had to be the fastest summer ever … at least for me it was. Hope you had better luck.

If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to save seeds. Of course, you’ll need to keep in mind that not all of them will “come true” when planted next spring.

You may get something a lot different. This is because hybridizing creates new varieties. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but not always. So, if you have a favorite annual that you’ve kept planting, growing and saving seeds from for many years and enjoy, you may want to continue to do that.

I’ve mainly been talking about flowers, but the same thing holds true for other plants such as veggies. Sometimes “New and Improved” just isn’t.

Keep on “deadheading,” meaning to snap off the dead flowers. This will keep the blossoms coming until the weather gets cold.

You may want to let some “go to seed” soon, though. There are a couple of reasons to do this. One is to increase that type of plant, if it’s so inclined. The other is to produce seed heads for the birds to feast on this fall. Some of the best plants for this include: coneflowers, black-eyed susans, cosmos and dahlberg daisies.

Keep those feeders full. Some birds will visit your yard all summer, as long as the food is available. I’ve had several goldfinches here almost daily, for months.

The hummingbirds will still appreciate their food too. Just be sure to mix it using the right amount of sugar to water: 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water. Too much sugar may attract them … at first, but avoid the temptation, as this can be deadly to them. With the hot days we’ve been having, we need to dump out the old mixture and clean the feeders every few days. It will go bad in a hurry. Once the weather cools back off, we can change it less often.

To get a jump on next spring, you can always clean out those birdhouses now. Once the babies have fledged, they won’t be back. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. A really severe winter might see a few birds holing up in a birdhouse, but that’s rare.

Don’t be surprised if you start to see some of the fall blooming perennials coming into bloom. I have a few asters already and the mums won’t be far behind.

If you’re a lettuce lover, go ahead and toss some more seeds into your veggie bed. They will grow and be ready to eat in no time flat.

Some sage advice: Confuscious say, best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. Second best time is today.

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in the Press every other Sunday from early March to late October.

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