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Fall’s racing toward finish line in a hurry

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Haven’t the sunsets been magnificent?
As the sun gets lower in the sky and the wind blows particles into the air, the colors of Earth’s spin out take on a rosy glow. At least it’s a great climax to our ever shorter days.
By next week we’ll have just over 10 hours of daylight each day. Those precious hours begin to dwindle quickly as we move closer to the winter solstice. All the more reason to hurry up and get those outside chores done.
Mulch those leaves and put them on the strawberries, around new tree plantings and scatter them lightly on garden beds. Give the lawn a final crew cut.
Then, take pen and paper in hand and start your list for next summer.
My memory has never been exceptional, and as I grow older it seems to wane like the moon. I like to think it’s because my knowledge base has grown, creating more stuff to sort through.  I said I like to think that. The point is that I need to remember what worked in the garden this year and what didn’t work, so I write it down.
My peas were planted in a too-shady place. My numerous trellis plantings need some adjustments.
With my prevailing winds coming from the west, I really need to remember to plant the zucchini and yellow squash differently.
This year they cross pollinated and gave me some very colorful, yet tasty, squash.
I also want to remember to put my tomato staking system in the ground before I plant. This year I had one raised bed that became almost jungle like, making it very difficult to harvest my tomatoes.
I’ve also sketched out a new raised bed system for the bottom field areas that always flood in the spring, usually right after I’ve planted. I know I can’t beat Mother Nature, but I sure can work with her a little better.
Some folks had difficulties with certain tomato varieties, battling disease and cracking. Write it down.
This is a great time to do a little research on what varieties perform well in our wacky weather world.
There is lots of information our there from people who conduct trials and write down every little thing.
I’m a big fan of the saying “Learn from others’ mistakes, because we cannot possibly make them all ourselves.”
As you’re gathering and sterilizing your various pots and trays for storage, keep a window box style planter out of the shed. Fill it with soil and bring it inside to a sunny spot. Sow some lettuce and/or spinach. Since both are cold crops, you just need to give it enough light to keep you in greens throughout the winter.
Many greenhouses close for the winter the end of October and they’d like nothing more than to end the year with an empty store.
You can get some great deals on all kinds of things that will save you some serious cash for next year.  I’m pretty sure prices will go up next year, just like everything else.
Now, get out there and work faster than the squirrels.  Soon, those sunsets will be reflecting off large blankets of white.
We might as well accept reality, summer is over and fall is close to the finish line. It won’t be long before my Sundays will be filled with lounging on the couch, furballs at my feet and football on the screen.
I can’t wait. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.