Funny thing, just last week we were talking about August being one of the hottest months, the need to water, etc. and then God made sure we remembered who’s in charge and sent along a cold snap here in Wisconsin. So, now we are thinking about when we need to cover tender plants to protect them from frost, and all those things we have to do at the end of the season. Crazy how weather can turn on a dime and change up what we are focused on so quickly!
September is one of the busiest months in the garden, lots of harvest happening, some crops coming to an end, preparing to bed down the areas of the garden that are finished for the year in Northern states, while finally getting back out in the garden in the hot Southern states. Depending upon your zone in the US there are specific tasks that you’ll want to focus on this coming month. Read on for Zone specific tips….
September brings cooler temperatures and relief to plants that don’t like the heat, as well as the time for those in Southern climes to start their new crops that enjoy a little cooler temps. Those who’ve been waiting out the heat will be happy to get back out in the garden for a bit of Fall crops!
No matter where you live, now is the time to start Fall clean-up in the flower beds, cutting back anything that has finished blooming or is diseased. For area specific ideas of what to do else-wise, look to the lists below.
In the North:
- Plant spinach for overwintering in zones where applicable
- Start keeping an eye out for frost/freeze warnings and be prepared to cover plants to keep them from frost-damage.
- After harvesting any last crops in areas of the garden, spread compost over the soil surface.
- Use up what compost you can to make room for leaves and garden debris you’ll be adding to the pile soon.
- Rake leaves and remove debris from crops in the garden that have finished for the year and add to compost pile.
- If frost threatens and you still have a lot of green tomatoes on the vine, you can pull up the vines and hang them in the basement to ripen.
- Plants that are fully mature, you can harvest heirloom/open-pollinated seeds from and prepare them for storage in a cool, dry spot now(two of our favorite books for instructions on how to do so are The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds and the classic favorite Seed to Seed if you need how-to books on saving seeds)
- Look for dry pods on the bean plants and save the seeds, if they are not completely ready and a frost threatens, you can pull up the plants and hang them upside down in the basement to finish drying.
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs and garlic for next year.
- Prepare your flower gardens for next year by planting seed of next year’s biennial flowers, such as forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica), sweet William (Dianthus barbatus), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and foxglove.
- Get fall compost cooking with the last of your grass clippings, spent plants, and leaves.
- As garden beds empty, sow quick-growing cover crops to protect your soil and add organic matter to the soil like winter rye or annual rye-grass.
- Sow spinach mid-month for spring harvest next year.
- Work spring-flowering bulbs into perennial beds.
- Plant garlic by month’s end for harvest next June.
- Early in September, sow seeds of mixed greens for fall and winter salads.
- Harvest the young lettuce planted last month.
- Snip off long stems of parsley, you can freeze them now in a bag or jar for winter use.
- Plant transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale; placing a thick mulch around them to cool the soil (grass clipping work great, as they also add nutrients to the soil to help your plants thrive).
- Direct-seed spinach, beets, carrots, kohlrabi lettuce, parsley, and turnips.
- Apply a 1⁄2-inch layer of compost to areas of the lawn that are susceptible to brown patch; and, at the end of the month, apply organic fertilizer to whole lawn.
- Plant winter crops of Asian greens, carrots, cole crops, lettuce, and peas .
- Harvest winter squash and pumpkins when their skin is hard enough to resist pressure from your thumbnail.
- Plant okra. It’s your last chance of the season!
- Sow seeds of cucurbits and herbs, and plant your Fall transplants of tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
- Work in soil amendments, including compost, bonemeal, and greensand.
Well, that’s all for this time! Hope these lists have been of help to you. May God bless and reward your gardening effort. Have a blessed Fall!