The Gardener's September Calendar ~ 2016

It's officially Labor Day weekend, the unofficial "end" of summer. How did your growing season go? I honestly lost ambition in August thanks to the sultry hot weather. But I'm hoping to whip the garden back into shape this fall so it closes out on a high note! So, let's keep our chores short and sweet this month:

  • Journal - This is an especially important time to write notes about what worked and didn't work in the garden this year. The notes that you take now will be useful when you experience spring fever in February. I find that if I am not specific about what worked and didn't work, or if I do not list the ideas that come to mind, I tend to overshoot my goals in the spring. So an example of notes I would take would look like this: Given how dry the last two summers has been, I think I really need to start investigating drought-tolerant plants for the garden. I learned that cleomes really don't like the front street border where it is very dry, so I need to stop trying to make them grow there.
  • Bulbs - 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. I'm also going to be teaming up with some other gardeners in the Twitter-universe to pick some fun additions to the garden. So stay tuned for that update!
  • 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 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.
  • 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. Also, for more ambition, check out Nancy DuBrule's late-summer garden design ideas, as covered in a previous story for the blog. 

  • Daylilies - 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.
  • Lawn care - 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.

  • 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.
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