The Gardener's September Calendar

To kick off September, we are experiencing a moderate drought with daily temperatures in the low 90s in Central Connecticut. The garden is continually dry, and everything is beginning to look crispy. Usually this month brings cooler temperatures and rain making the fall a great time to plant. This is the time of year where I feel additionally pressured to get everything completed, a recurring sentiment from previous years.

Here are some tasks to keep in mind this month:

It's time to place your orders. Break out the photos you took in the spring and figure out what parts of the garden are missing spring color. The trick is trying to get a continual cycle of bloom. This year I'm going to be focusing on more minor bulbs (think crocus, snowdrops and grape hyacinths) to create larger swatches of color.

Fall Cleanup
It seems as if it is never too early to start cleaning up the garden, and this year I think it's especially important in our area since everything bloomed earlier and has been suffering in the heat. In this previous blog entry, Sarah Bailey of UCONN master gardeners offers tips to make fall cleanup faster. Anything that is diseased should be chucked into the garbage can (think tomatoes showing blight, irises showing borer damage, etc.). Any spent flowers should be cut back.

Now is a good time to divide them and plant new ones in the garden. I've been watching daylily growers on Facebook sharing their wares daily and I'm super tempted to buy a new frilly one or two. Bonus: Plant daffodils underneath your dayliles and the emerging daylilies will hide the daffodil leaves as they yellow in the spring.

Divide Perennials
This is a great time for dividing vigorous growers in the garden. But it's OK to put plants in the compost pile if they no longer have a home in the garden, as author Kristin Green explained at a lecture I previously covered for the blog.

Now is a great time to reseed the lawn. Cooler temperatures in autumn help grass seed sprout faster than in the spring. In this previous blog entry, Diane St. John of Natureworks explains how certain weeds can act as clues for problems in the lawn. It's also a good time to take a soil test to see what nutrients your lawn needs.

Usually Columbus Day is a good estimate for planting garlic in our area. For a quick refresher, click here.

Collecting Seeds, Prepping for Fall
Start collecting spent flower seeds for use next year. Think cosmos, zinnias, calendulas, daylilies and snapdragons. This is also the time to get the cold frame ready to receive a fall crop that will last you into the winter.

This is an especially important time to write notes about what worked and didn't work in the garden this year. These will be great to examine when you experience spring fever in late February! Things that are on my list: finding drought-tolerant perennials for my back garden (the sedum really shined this year while many others petered out) and possibly downgrading the square footage dedicated to vegetables and investing more time and energy into flowers and berry/fruit crops. What's on your list?

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