Planting season is around the corner. Make it easier by preparing your soil. Take your planting area down to bare soil then water so it penetrates deeply into the soil. Add about 4 inches of compost to the soil surface and let the area sit for a day or so, then turn the soil, roughly mixing in the compost. Add about 2 inches more compost on top and water once or twice a week. In six weeks, it will be much easier to dig and incorporate the compost. This method works for planting a single specimen or for creating a large garden bed.
Prune growing tips of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants and squash. Keep harvesting regularly to help less-mature fruits ripen.
At last, greens will thrive again. Plant arugula, kale, collards, spinach, bok choy, lettuce and mustard. As the weather cools, a cloche will allow you to harvest up to Thanksgiving. String holiday lights inside to protect against freezing nights, and some plants will overwinter.
Roots are important to the life of the soil. Don't leave a garden bed empty over the winter. Put in cover crops like oats, annual ryegrass, crimson clover and vetch. Be sure to turn under in early spring.
Follow planting directions, adding more amendments if needed. Your back and your plants will be happy. Plus, fall-planted specimens outperform their spring-planted counterparts for at least two seasons because of roots developed during the first winter.
Spring-flowering plants can be divided now. Iris can be transplanted.
Potted plants tend to get root-bound at this time of year. Keep monitoring for water needs. Begin looking for fall-color plants and make up a pot for the front door.
Dry heat stresses plants, which can result in powdery mildew, a sooty gray coating easily seen on leaves. Try a commercial product or this home remedy: Add 1/4 cup baking soda to 1 gallon of water with a teaspoon of dish detergent. Spray twice weekly.
On cooler days fertilize your lawn, following package directions. Add about 1/2 inch of compost to the lawn to increase organic matter.
Is your green lawn turning red? Could be a fungal disease. Take a divot to the Jackson County Master Gardeners plant clinic at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center on Hanley Road or to a full-service nursery that can diagnose your problem. To prevent fungus, water in early morning so grass dries before nightfall.
Learn to compost your food waste and organic yard debris in small settings so you won't attract critters but will end up with weed-free material for your yard and garden. The free class is taught by Denny Morelli, 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Ashland Recycling Center. Park cars on Water Street.