September 8, 2011 in Washington Voices

Summer heat deceiving; plan for fall

Pat Munts

Even though the heat says we are finally getting our summer, fall is only two weeks away. It’s time to shift gears and think about fall planting and end of season garden events.

This Saturday is the annual Spokane Community Gardens Tour. Thirteen gardens in Spokane and Spokane Valley will be on the tour this year, including the two newest located in Grant Park in the South Perry neighborhood and Riverwalk Park in Peaceful Valley. These two parks are the first to be built in city parks after the park board approved the policy to permit them last March.

Community gardens are sprouting up all around the area and as a result are building new communities of neighbors who are growing as many friendships as they are tomatoes. The tour will run from noon to 4 p.m. and is free. A map of the tour can be downloaded from the WSU Master Gardener website at www.spokane-

Fall bulbs are showing up in the stores. Select bulbs that are firm, without nicks and cuts. Bigger bulbs will produce bigger flowers the first year so plan accordingly if you want a spectacular show next year. Most bulbs are planted two to three times their height in ordinary garden soil amended with a little compost and bone meal. Mark where you plant them so you don’t dig into them by mistake in the spring. If you are plagued by deer, skip the tulips and plant daffodils, grape hyacinth, alliums, scilla, snowdrops and fritillaries. If squirrels are an issue, lay a piece of hardware cloth over the planted area and anchor it to keep them from digging up the bulbs.

Here is a nifty trick to create a bulb garden that will give you a show of different bulbs in the spring. Layer bulbs that bloom at different times through the spring in the same hole. Dig a large, flat hole three times the height of the largest bulb. For daffodils or tulips that may be 6 inches. Place the bulbs about 6 inches apart and fill the hole half full of dirt. Place another layer of smaller bulbs like small alliums, scilla and crocus 4 or 5 inches apart on this layer of dirt and finish filling the hole. Mark the location with stakes so you don’t dig in the area accidentally.

Stop deadheading roses to slow their growth. This will give them a chance to harden off new wood and be less susceptible to freeze damage especially if we get an early hard freeze like we did last year.

Honeybees are very busy right now packing honey away for the winter. They are visiting asters, autumn joy sedum, sunflowers, Russian sage and goldenrod. An average hive will need eight to 10 frames of honey to make it through the winter. If you don’t have many of these fall blooming plants in your garden, look for them at the year-end sales. Pollinators like honeybees are an important part of the environment and our food system, and we all need to help them thrive.

Pat Munts is a Master Gardener who has gardened the same acre in Spokane Valley for 30 years. She can be reached by email at

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email