In this "In the Garden" column, father-daughter gardening team Bill and Martelle Luedecke talk about getting your gardens ready for the autumn growing season.


  • First and foremost, mulch, mulch, and MULCH. Use flame-retardant mulch while we’re in burn ban/red flag warning days.
  • If your tomatoes had a bumper crop this year but are now waning in the heat, cut them back to about 12 inches and water and feed them. They will grow and produce for you until the first freeze. If, on the other hand, they did not produce for you, take them out.
  • Are you turning your compost piles? Unless you have a fancy drum type with an automatic timer that does it for you, it is time to turn those compost piles.
  • As your pumpkins are maturing you can give them a twirl so that, while they grow, they have a nice round shape. Also, place a board under your pumpkin to raise it off of the ground. Doing so helps you avoid one-sided rot and will deter pests.
  • In late August, apply to your roses fertilizer in which the nitrogen is readily available. Coffee grounds and sun tea have readily available nitrogen.
  • If you have not started preparing your garden for the fall, then turn under or till under all leftover crop (not the weeds though). Add compost and soil enhancers such as Lady Bug-brand soil activator. Once you have accomplished those tasks, top off the soil with liquid molasses. It feeds microbiological activity and is like dessert for the soil in your garden.
  • Perhaps consider rotating crops. Have you continued to plant the same crop, season after season, in the same location and noticed your crops are not doing as well? There is a reason for this lesser performance, and it lies in the soil being used for the same crop, depleting itself while attracting those pests that need a pattern to pursue. By rotating our crops, we will short-circuit those problem areas of our gardens.
  • Do NOT throw corn gluten (or any type or broadleaf pre-emptive, preventive) where you plan to plant your wildflowers.


  • Our fine-feathered friends who help keep the bugs away need watering, too. Clean your hummingbird feeders often.
  • Please secure the chains on your tailgate or hitch. The spark of the chain on the road can and has caused brush fires.
  • To reduce ember ignitions and fire spread, trim branches that overhang the home, porch, and deck and prune branches of large trees up to 6-10 feet (depending on their height) from the ground. Remove plants containing resins, oils, and waxes. Use crushed stone or gravel instead of flammable mulches in the Immediate Zone (0-5 feet around the house). Keep your landscape in good condition. (Firewise tips: How to Prepare Your Home for Wildfires. Wildfire Risk Reduction Steps That Can Make Your Home Safer During a Wildfire at

Till next time. Keep your souls and soles in your garden! Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1
"In the Garden" is written by daughter-father gardening team Martelle and Bill Luedecke. If you have gardening questions, contact Martelle at 512-769-3179 or or Bill at 512-577-1463 or Read more "In the Garden" columns in the 101 Lawn & Garden Guide.