Bartleby's Garden Calendar
Updated: Sep 13, 2022
September is here and we look forward to a break from constant mowing, weeding, and insects. Hopefully the heat will abate soon. Can’t complain too much about rainfall as it has been enough to keep the lawn and garden green most of the summer. Summer annuals may be fading and getting a bit leggy. Think about replacing them soon with cool season flowers like flowering cabbage and kale, snapdragons. Start autumn annual replacement varieties like hardy asters, columbine, hollyhock, and candytuft. September is typically a dry month, so keep your plants mulched to maintain the soil moisture and control weed seeds. Feed and mulch chrysanthemums and roses to encourage fall blossoms. Divide Dutch Iris. Think about preparing beds for daffodils and other bulbs. Remember bulbs need good drainage and rich soil.
In the vegetable garden start your winter veggies in flats now, for transplanting into the garden by the end of the month. This includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, chard and Brussels sprouts. Winter lettuce can be started later when it cools more, but make sure to they are adequately watered. Seedling growth must not be checked by dry medium. Don’t forget other cool season options like kale, spinach, radish, turnips and mustard. Plant extra turnips, give insects an opportunity to feed on these turnips rather than other cool season crops. Set out strawberry plants and keep them watered so they can establish a root system to support the early spring berries. Mulch with pine straw or other organic material to keep spring fruit off the ground.
If your blueberries are well established, consider removing one third of the canes each year to keep the plants growing vigorously and increase production. Make sure the mulch around the shrubs is replenished. If you are considering planting fruit trees, do your research now and pick an appropriate variety for this area. Fruit trees will be dug by nurseries later this fall and will soon be available. Get the trees in the ground in the fall and early winter because even if it has no leaves, the tree's root are still growing in the cooler months of October, November and December. Consider planting an Oriental persimmon. The large fruit is super sweet and the foliage is a beautiful yellow and orange in the fall. Pear trees require less spraying and pruning than apples, peaches or plums, so if you want a home orchard that requires less spray maintenance, select pears, blueberries and muscadines. Muscadines require a lot of pruning, but you can count on a crop nearly every year if the deer don't find them.
Keep the weeds cut in your yard to keep them from going to seed and spreading seeds everywhere. If you have enough space, consider composting the fall leaves, even better, if you have a source of cow or other animal manure, place one 6 inch layer of leaves on the ground and then a two inch layer of manure, then add a thin layer of soil to inoculate the pile. Repeat this layering pattern as high as material allows and keep the pile moist. Later, when in winter rains set in, you will want to cover your compost pile with a tarp to keep the nutrients from being leached out by excessive rain. Just remember you still have to keep the pile moist to keep the process alive and working, so check the pile from time to time and keep moist. By spring you will have a dark rich mulch to incorporate into your flower beds and mulch your flowers, shrubs and trees. Just know that your pile will be reduced by a half or one third of the volume you started with, so make plenty of compost if you have the material and room.
Once you start a garden, you have to be ever vigilant making sure it is watered and fertilized, making sure the insects and animals are under control, making sure the flowers are dead-headed, the produce is picked. Get organized now, plow the garden area so it can breakdown over the winter, get a soil test, add the soil amendments needed (lime, organic materials like peat moss, fertilizer). Take advantage of the down time during winter to clean and organize your garden area. Many people get the gardening fever in the spring and then when it gets hot or the weeds, insects or drought decimate the garden, they give up. Anticipate this and make sure your soil has adequate organic matter to retain moisture and supplement the necessary fertilizer. Mulch the beds to keep down weeds. Make the garden a pleasant place to be and you will spend more time in it admiring the beauty and at the same time noticing insect damage to control, checking for proper moisture, staking leggy plants. The natural world does not discriminate, rain falls on the rich and poor, the good and bad. Pick the flowers, eat the fruit and benefit from Mother Nature's therapy.