ELAINE CERNY: My Garden Path — Going, going … gone?

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Photo by ELAINE CERNY Some of my current dahlia crop.

In one more week, we will be “greeted” by the First Day of Autumn. That hits on Sept. 23, to be exact. I know, I have mixed feelings too!

I don’t know about you, but it tells me that it’s time to get “our ducks in a row.” For me, and my messed up back, that is easier said than done.

Anyway, here are a few chores that need doing now:

• Mow the lawn, short.

• Spread lawn fertilizer for the last time this year.

• Cut finished perennial blossoms off.

• Purchase tulip, daffodil and any other spring bulb.

If you intend to move or plant new perennials, don’t wait any longer. These need to get established before Ol’ Man Winter comes calling.

Whether planting new or moving established peonies, remember their basic needs: full sun, good drainage and don’t cover the “eyes” with more than 2 inches of soil. If planted too deeply, they’ll refuse to bloom. By “eyes” I mean the small pink buds located at the top of the root system.

There seems to be a lot of crane flies around lately. These are the ones that look like giant mosquitoes that have been on steroids. Some people call these “mosquito eaters.” There’s only one thing wrong with that nickname; crane flies don’t eat mosquitos, or anything else. They only live long enough to fly around, mate and lay eggs. The young will eventually hatch and become tiny caterpillers. These will love to munch on the roots of your lawn grasses.

If you still have feeders out for the hummingbirds, you can safely take them down some time this week or next as these little guys usually head south around Sept. 15.

September is a great time to plant new lawn grass, either large areas or small ones. Just clear any vegetation, Dig up the intended area, rake smooth and toss out a generous amount of seeds. A light covering of fine sawdust or similar material will help to keep the area wet. Spray with water and soon the tiny green leaf blades will begin to poke up.

As the end of growing season draws near, go ahead and remove the blossoms from any large type tomato plants as these take a long time to mature a ripe fruit. The little cherry types can continue a bit longer.

If you’ve already purchased those spring bulbs, go ahead and plant them whenever the mood strikes. Most packages will give depth directions, etc. If not, just plant them in a sunny spot with good drainage. Most bulbs do well if planted about three times the diameter of the bulb. Bulb food isn’t a necessity as each bulb contains all it needs to produce the next flower.

Here’s a description we can all identify with: Garden: A thing of beauty and a job forever.

• • •

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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