September Tips and Tasks in the Vegetable Garden
The “Dog Days of August” are finally in the rear view mirror. September in the Piedmont is a month that transitions into fall with hot summer days but cooling nights. It’s also a month that confronts the gardener with mixed feelings. After a long season of planting, weeding, harvesting, and battling an ever-changing list of pests, I sometimes wish that the season would just come to an end! At other times, I want to extend the growing and harvesting season into winter. But, mixed feelings or not, there are always gardening tasks to do, and here is my list for September.
Plant garlic in our area during the month of October. Remember, many retailers quickly exhaust their inventories of the most popular varieties before October. If you haven’t purchased garlic for fall planting, time is running out. A few garden centers in our area sell garlic bulbs for fall planting but the varieties are somewhat limited. However, an online search for “Garlic Bulbs for Sale” will bring up numerous sources. Be sure to check The Garden Shed next month for an article on growing great garlic.
September is an excellent time to sow cover crops in bare areas of your garden. See our article on cover crops in this month’s issue of The Garden Shed.
Give your tomato plants one last feeding. Compost tea or fish emulsion should give them the extra energy they need to make that final push at the end of the season. Pinching off small green tomatoes and any new flowers will channel the plant’s energy into ripening the remaining full-size fruit.
Plant some cool-season vegetables such as radishes, spinach, kale, mustard and collards.
Collect herbs from your herb garden for freezing and drying. If you don’t have access to a dehydrator, herbs can be dried quickly in a microwave oven. Simply place the herbs between two paper towels and heat for a minute. Remove them from the oven, cool, then test to see if the leaves are crisp. If not, return them to the microwave for a few more seconds. Store in sealed jars in a dark place so they will keep their color and flavor.
Remove any diseased plants from the garden and burn them or bag and dispose of them to prevent spreading disease to future plants. Only compost healthy plants.
Take a tour of your own vegetable garden and make notes on this year’s varieties, successes, challenges and chores so that you can learn for next year. Make a sketch of your plants to be used next spring for rotating your crops.
Continue to weed your garden to prevent the weeds from going to seed and germinating over the winter and spring.
Remove all 2 year-old canes from raspberry and blackberry plants to reduce overwintering of disease. Fertilizers containing potassium, phosphorus and magnesium or calcium can be applied but do not cultivate or irrigate at this time of the year.
Keep the strawberry patch weed free. Every weed you pull will help making weeding easier next spring.
Even before fall arrives, we gardeners are already planning for next spring!
Thanks for joining us in The Garden Shed, hope to see you again next month!
Missouri Botanical Garden, “Gardening by Month-September”,http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/gardening-by-month/september.aspx
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Albemarle/Charlottes, “Monthly Horticulture Tip Sheets- Herbs, September”, http://offices.ext.vt.edu/albemarle/programs/anr/tip-sheets/9-14-herbs.pdf
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Albemarle/Charlottes, “Monthly Horticulture Tip Sheets- Fruits and Herbs, September”, http://offices.ext.vt.edu/albemarle/programs/anr/tip-sheets/9-14-fruits-nuts.pdf