It’s been a radiant autumn. We have completed most of the yard cleanup until the rains began — yes, the welcome rain — so we cannot complain.

The winter garden is mulched with leaves and grass clippings so we can enjoy fresh carrots and beets this winter. The spinach has sprouted; it’s a bit late, but it will flourish with the first warming in March. Now for a bit of snow to protect this produce from freezing and thawing.

Is it too early to think about next year’s garden?

Did you take pictures this summer when out in the garden or when your family was barbecuing? There is no better way to access your garden than from photos or videos.

It is too easy to be distracted by visual high points when you are standing in the yard thinking about your landscapes. There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “Photos never lie.” It is easy to see what was terrific and what was disappointing. I planted seven-foot-tall dahlias that became absolute thugs and overwhelmed everything else growing in that flowerbed. So now I know what comes next.

November, while the garden successes and failures are still fresh in my mind, is the perfect time to make a plan. Does that shrub that I have been whacking back finally have to go because it has outgrown its space? Are some things growing in too much shade, too much sun? Where do those dahlias go?

There is nothing really to protect our gardens from the type of extreme temperature we experienced in late June during the week of the “heat dome.” Our normal July and August temperatures range in the high 90’s or low 100’s. We can protect our plants’ roots with organic mulch.

It is probably time to reassess marginal plants that do not tolerate our normal summer temperatures. Many trees, especially conifers, were scorched by the intense week of heat. Most likely, the branches will regrow needles and leaves. Have you noticed that most of the scorch occurred on the side of the tree or shrub that was next to pavement or rock mulch, which intensified the heat? Maybe it is time to reassess what borders the vegetation.

On one of these rainy afternoons, I am going to grab a cup of cocoa and sit down with my box of garden seeds. I have them sorted into a vegetable box and a flower seed box. During the season, it is so difficult to keep them alphabetized, but essential, I think.

I am going to sort out of my box all the seeds that I wish I had a space to plant but never have, and eliminate all the vegetable seeds that I could grow but never would eat. Those are going to go into a bag to donate in the spring to the Master Gardeners seed exchange kiosk at the Community Education Garden at the corner of Springwater and Western avenues in Wenatchee.

Well, that’s done. Time to cook up one of my winter squashes to make into a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

A WSU Master Gardeners of Chelan County column appears weekly in The Wenatchee World. Bonnie Orr is one of four columnists featured. To learn more, visit or call (509) 667-6540.

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