Cooler weather entices the gardener back outdoors for another gardening season. Here are tasks to consider in September.
Early in the month
Plant a fall garden of vegetables that thrive in cooler weather: spinach and lettuce, cabbage, greens, turnips and radishes. Heat, weeds and insects are garden challenges (it’s still summer, after all), so plan carefully.
Save seeds for next year’s garden. Allow beans to dry on the vine; remove pepper seeds and spread them on a paper towel until they are dry; allow okra pods to turn brown on the plant, but harvest the pods before they split and drop the seeds on the ground. They key to successful seed-saving is to make sure the seeds are completely dry before storing them.
It’s time to work on that cool-season (fescue) lawn. Reseed or refurbish an established lawn, or plant a new lawn between now and the end of the month. Remove thatch (the buildup of organic material at soil level) before sowing to improve seed contact with the soil. Keep the soil moist as seed germinates.
Plant a bed of garlic. Plant individual cloves (pointed end up) two inches deep and about 4 inches apart in a sunny location with well-drained soil. Harvest the bulbs next summer.
You may not have to water container gardens as often, but it’s still smart to keep an eye on them so they don’t dry out completely.
Continue to deadhead perennials that are still blooming to keep them flowering as long as possible.
Continue to harvest basil to use with late-summer meals and to make pesto to freeze and use later.
Cut dead leaves and dried stalks of daylilies. Continue to water the plants so they go into winter with a strong root system.
Begin clearing out dead foliage, twigs and other garden debris from perennial and vegetable beds. This helps keep insects and disease from wintering-over in the garden.
If you have houseplants outdoors, begin preparing them to come back inside. Transfer them to a shady area and clean the pots, remove dead or damaged foliage, and treat for insects that might hitch a ride into the house.
Use potted mums to bring fall colors to porches, patios and garden beds. Mums growing in containers should last for weeks if they are watered regularly. Clip off dead flowers as needed.
Before things disappear from the garden, place plant markers where they’re needed to mark the location of perennials that die back to the ground during winter.
Keep that new or refurbished cool-season lawn watered so that it establishes a good root system. Provide about an inch to an inch and a half of water a week, using a sprinkler if it doesn’t rain.
Go ahead and buy those spring-flowering bulbs, but wait until the soil cools a bit to put them in the ground. You can begin preparing the beds now so they will be ready when the time is right.
Take a tour of your own garden. Begin to make notes of this year’s successes, challenges, chores for the to-do list and ideas for next year.
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