September remains a roller-coaster month offering weather extremes and chances to prolong our waning gardens.
September remains a roller-coaster month offering weather extremes and chances to prolong our waning gardens. Each growing-season month has its gardening theme, and this is September’s.
The month offers a final chance to learn what went right, and wrong. I shoot photos of the successes to remind me next season and guide my new plantings.
Meanwhile, back in the dirt, September is a good time to divide those problem perennials you planted in too small a space. All plants need room. Perennials reward space with larger and more prolific blooms and the chance to create free plants by dividing.
September moderates the heat of summer, making it good for keeping divided plants alive. You won’t see much growth on top, but the roots will take hold. That creates a perfect survival scenario for next spring.
Trees and shrubs, too, benefit from late-summer transplanting. The continuing chore here is to keep them watered until the soil freezes, then mulching with shredded leaves.
Many weeds seed in fall. It is important to control them now for next season.
If you have compost, consider spreading two inches or more around your landscape. Top dressing forms mulch that rapidly decomposes, sending nutrients into the soil. It creates light and fluffy soil, called friable, and helps prevent the usual compaction of snow and freezing. Big plus: Cleaning out your compost heap makes room for the coming fall leaves.
You can extend your flowers by pruning expired flower clusters (deadheading). The clusters form seedpods and convince the plant that the season is finished. Deadheading inspires plants to continue flowering. While you are pruning, take off the dead branches and leaves. This helps flowing by increasing sunlight penetration. It revitalizes plants.
Your annuals are turning to seed. Allowing them to naturalize means simply letting the seeds fall where they may for emergence next spring. If you want to control the spread, collect the dried seed and plant it in May or start the seed indoors in March.
We still have time for fall vegetables. Peas, spinach, lettuce may be grown from seed. Some existing plants such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and carrots improve in flavor with the cool weather.
The weather will determine the success of our fall gardens. An early frost can halt things fast. Still, it is worth the effort, especially the chores that benefit next year’s landscape.