Gardening Basics
Labor Day usually signals the end of 100-degree temperatures. Watering can decrease, but not end. Keep adding about an inch a week. It's another beautiful month in the garden: Time to plan a garden party or a harvest get-together. Then, by the end of the month, pull out summer annuals and replace with winter-friendly pansies, snapdragons or primroses. The longer you wait, the smaller your winter display. Bright, light colors show up best in winter.

Gardening Basics
Labor Day usually signals the end of 100-degree temperatures. Watering can decrease, but not end. Keep adding about an inch a week. It's another beautiful month in the garden: Time to plan a garden party or a harvest get-together. Then, by the end of the month, pull out summer annuals and replace with winter-friendly pansies, snapdragons or primroses. The longer you wait, the smaller your winter display. Bright, light colors show up best in winter.

Kitchen Garden
Cut the growing tips off big-fruit plants such as tomatoes, squash (not bush types), peppers and eggplants, so the fruit that has already set can ripen. Bean pods (and other veggies) should be picked as they ripen. If you stop picking, the plant will stop producing. Clean up spent plants. Toss any diseased parts and compost the rest. Seed empty beds with cover crops. These plants need to be cut off and worked into the soil come spring. Transplant starts of pak choi, Chinese cabbage, shallots and celery. In our climate, the best bets for overwintering are kale, mustard and collard greens. Parsley also produces all winter. Beginning mid-month, plant garlic and shallot bulbs. As the soil cools, plant pea seeds near a trellis or teepee. The young plants will grow until winter arrives, when growth appears to stop. Once the temperatures and day length begin to increase, the vines will resume growing, and you will have an early crop of peas. Your success depends in part on winter weather and amount of sun.

Ornamental Garden
Nurseries often get new shipments in the fall. If you don't have time to plant now, you can "heel in" plants in your empty vegetable beds. Set the plant in loose soil and cover with mulch to protect from freezing. Transplant to permanent homes in late February or early March, taking as much of the root ball as possible. The advantage: Plants get a head start on root development. Keep attention on fungus control; recent studies show diluted milk is just as effective as commercial fungicides at controlling powdery mildew. Skim milk may be easier to use in sprayers. Use at least 1-to-9 ratio of milk to water. Other home recipes for garden problems are available in the Oregon State University Extension publication "Using Home Remedies to Control Garden Pests." It's available free of charge online at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/ec/ec1586.pdf. Try to start your clean-up chores as plants prepare for winter. Trim back iris by cutting the leaf tips in an inverted "V" shape. Trim lavender that is finished blooming so about 2 inches of green growth remains.

Lawn
Monitor watering needs closely. About 1 inch per week is right for September lawns. Lawns may benefit from a feeding now, but don't do it when the weather is hot. Avoid fertilizing on hot days. Check for thatch, the tough fibrous growth at the base of lawns. This is root growth "above the soil line." Two inches or more thick, and it should definitely be removed. Then spread 1/4 inch of compost and add grass seed. In the future, water deeply and aerate regularly.

Opportunities
North Mountain Park's gardens are featured in two guided tours this month, Wednesday, Sept. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 26. Both tours run from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., and visitors will discover how to attract wildlife in the Butterfly, Amphibian-Reptile and Native Plants gardens. Step into the Heirloom Garden and enjoy the fragrance of the Herb Gardens. Private tours can be arranged by calling 488-6606. Register online at http://ashlandparks.recware.com. Tour Italio Gardens, 2825 Cummings Lane in Medford, every Saturday 9 a.m. to noon. Always call ahead to confirm and get directions: 772-8787. Baldassare Mineo loves sharing his rare plant collection. Groups and garden clubs are welcome.