Marianne Binetti

Even this late, you can do some gardening

The third week of August is a good time to plant another crop of greens for enjoying this fall. What? You never got a garden planted this spring?

No worries, you can get a great deal on lettuce, Swiss chard and spinach seeds and get them in the ground this week. What? You don’t have any ground to hoe or soil to improve with compost? No worries, you can plant the seeds of these summer greens in containers and enjoy fresh nutrition in a few weeks. Keep the newly planted seeds moist and add some compost to your potting soil. Fertilize with a liquid plant food when the seedlings are 2 or 3 inches tall and you’ll be eating fresh and greens and can call yourself a farmer this summer.

My neighbor has a shrub that blooms every August with deep lavender blue flowers. He claims it is a hibiscus plant but the flowers are much smaller than hibiscus and it survives the winter weather – and I know hibiscus are tropical plants. Any idea what it is? L.S., Maple Valley

Your neighbor is right. There is a hardy hibiscus with smaller blooms than the tropical varieties and this old-fashioned shrub is also known as “Rose of Sharon” and ia one of the few shrubs that blooms in August and September.

I have a lovely white variety blooming in my garden that is now 12 feet tall and has survived the harsh Enumclaw winters for over 20 years.

The Latin name is Hibiscus syriacus and the Rose of Sharon shrub is available at local nurseries now in shades of blue, purple, pink, white and several rather striking bi-colors.

When do I prune raspberries? I don’t think we have the everbearing type because we harvested lots of berries in the middle of summer and now I see only ugly vines and no fruit. Also, I notice some raspberry plants are spreading into another bed. How do I stop that? S.M. via e-mail

Get tough and tidy up your raspberry canes now. Cut any branch that already bore fruit right to the ground. These will be the ugly brown canes. The new green shoots that did not give you any berries will be the berry best next year, so leave these alone.

As for the strays that try to sneak into other beds, use a sharp shovel to detach them from the mother plants and dig them out. If you are firm with your discipline and get control of your rambling raspberry plants now, you’ll have well-behaved and tidy plants next spring.

Marianne Binetti is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and eight other gardening books. She has a degree in horticulture from WSU and will answer questions from her Web site at