4 things to do as the Northwest’s fall garden season begins

This time of year, zucchinis have been known to appear inside unlocked cars and on

This time of year, zucchinis have been known to appear inside unlocked cars and on door steps and get shoved into the arms of visitors.

This time of year, zucchinis have been known to appear inside unlocked cars and on door steps and get shoved into the arms of visitors.

Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

The fall garden season can begin this week with harvesting, lawn feeding and new plant selection. Here are four tasks to consider.

September lawn care

If you only fertilize the lawn once a year, do it in the fall. Use a slow-release fall and winter lawn food but wait until the rains return and your lawn greens up a bit. A fall feeding will help your lawn to wake up sooner in the spring and crowd out weeds.

September harvesting

Better lock your car. Giant zucchinis have been known to appear inside unlocked cars and on door steps and get shoved into the arms of visitors. September is the time to harvest summer squash like zukes when they are small and tender or look up baked zucchini recipes.

Winter squash such as acorn and Hubbard as well as pumpkins should not be picked in September. Wait until October when the skin hardens and these winter squash can be stored in a dry spot for winter eating.

Harvest tomatoes as soon as they turn color or before they become cracked from overhead rain or watering. You can prune off any flowering shoots or tips now as the blossoms will not have time to make fruit before frost.

Fall is for planting

Get ready for some great nursery and plant sales because fall is the best time of year to add new trees, shrubs and perennials to the landscape.

The warm soil but cool night air encourages faster root growth and the return of rain means less hand watering for those vulnerable months right after a new plant is added.

Lose it or move it: What survived the hot weather

This is a good week to take stock of what survived with little additional water over this hot, dry summer. Our summers will continue to be warmer so if you have crispy leaves on shrubs and perennials or plants that just wilted in the heat, make the choice to move the suffering plant to a more shaded location this fall or to lose it in the compost pile. You can also donate your crispy critters to a garden with more shade.

Reminder: Plants are not your children and you do not owe them a lifetime commitment. If they disappoint, off with their heads, move em or lose em.

Support the Master Gardeners

You can learn from Marianne Binetti and win plants and prizes at an evening Zoom talk at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept 9 called “Stealing Beauty: The Best Garden Ideas from Around the World.” Sign up at www.mgftc.org and your donation will keep the master gardeners foundation running. This live event is for anyone who loves to travel and loves gardens.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.