The days are getting shorter and summer is officially past. In reality, there’s still some summer to be squeezed out of the season. Though some plants have just about given their all, there are plenty that shine as fall and winter approach – mums, of course, and asters. One of my very favorite plants, the toad lily (Tricyrtis sp.), waits all year for September and October to put on its show.
There are other ways to get more color into our gardens and even grow vegetables past those chilly nights that bring frost. Gardening with plastic containers – ever popular – can be done in abundance by placing colorful plantings among the waning perennials. Hanging plastic containers can be a way to dress up the garden too, by using shepherd’s hooks to hang them. Now may be a good time to purchase leftover annuals in garden centers at a bargain.
I have several plastic containers that I use in just this way. Though I like terra cotta pots, too, the plastic ones are lightweight, easy to clean, and easy to store when I’m finished with them. And some of them are shaped and colored like the clay ones, so you can barely tell the difference. I don’t have to worry about the plastic ones breaking either if I forget to take them in for the winter.
Many gardeners plant a fall vegetable garden, but because fall weather can be unpredictable, it’s nice to be prepared for an early frost. Flexible plastic tubing can be placed over rows of veggies and clear plastic sheeting can then be laid over the top to create row covers to help hold in heat on chilly nights. You can gain several extra weeks of growing time by doing this. Cloches made by cutting the bottom out of plastic gallon milk jugs can be used to provide cold protection for individual plants, too.
Special portable planting boxes (such as Earth Box® and Grow BoxTM) are made of lightweight plastic, making them easy to move indoors on colder nights, then back outside during the day. These work especially well for cool season vegetables during the fall.
So don’t give up on the garden yet – there’s another season just beginning!
Kylee Baumle is a Master Gardener from Ohio who writes about her garden on her blog, Our Little Acre. She also writes feature articles for Ohio Gardener and Indiana Gardener magazines and is the book review editor for Horticulture.