September is a busy month in the garden

            There is much to do in the September garden!  Vegetable gardeners continue to harvest tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and beans and are busy canning, freezing and dehydrating.  Potatoes and carrots are ready to be dug and apples and pears are ready for harvest.  Just a reminder that local food banks welcome any extra produce.

            September is the time to save seeds of annuals that you want to plant next year.  Simply cut seed heads off when they become brown and spread them out on newspaper to dry for a few days.  Store them in paper bags in a cool, dry location.  Label the bags so you can identify them when it’s time to plant in spring.

            Early in the month is your last chance to move or divide perennial plants.  Dig around and under the plant, preserving as many of the roots as you can, and lift it from the ground.  Now is a good time to add compost or other soil amendments to the soil.  Cut through the crown with a knife or shovel and plant the pieces at the same level in the ground as they were previously growing.  Water the plant well and give it supplemental water over the following few weeks if rain doesn’t fall or if temperatures are high.

            Now is the time to plant trees, shrubs and grass.  Garden centers are selling nursery stock at greatly reduced prices this time of year.  Use the same care in selecting a tree or shrub at 75% off as you would a full-priced one or it’s no deal at all.  Make sure the leaves, stems and roots all look healthy before you buy.

            Don’t slack off on weeding.  The abundant rain this year has made weeding a full time job in some gardens.  Do not let late summer weeds go to seed or you will regret it next year!  Pull the weeds, making sure you get the entire root system.  Chopping perennial weeds with a hoe or tiller only makes the problem worse, as each tiny piece of root has the potential to grow into a new plant.

            Depending on the weather, we may have a month or more before annual flowers are hit with frost.  Give annuals a trim if they have gotten unruly and keep the spent flowers deadheaded so they look neat and pretty as long as possible.

            It’s too early to plant spring bulbs – that should be done around October 15 – but do start thinking about what you might plant for next spring’s bloom.  Either mail order the bulbs now or start watching for them in garden centers. 

            Take a look around your garden and make note of what you want to add or change for next year.  Don’t do any pruning now, as pruning will stimulate new growth that won’t be winter hardy, but do make a note of trees or shrubs that will need pruning during the dormant season.

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