September Garden Chores Include Reseeding and Pruning

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The fall weather can be very inviting after a long, hot summer. Enjoy the season outside by tending to lawns and gardens, and preparing plants for the winter.

So take inventory—walk around, make notes—and plan in detail to extend and enrich your garden’s season. And when you start your fall cleanup, do so with pest control in mind, too. Deer, voles, cabbage worms, squash bugs and other garden pests can be limited with tactics like this. Extra-thorough care now means fewer issues next season.

Local gardening organizations suggest the following chores for September:

Lawns:

  • Fertilize fescue and bluegrass lawns. Use slow-release fertilizer to reduce risk of nutrient run-off.
  • This is also the time to do any reseeding where you may have lost grass this summer due to drought or disease. Break up soil, cover seed with straw if the spot is more than a few inches across, and keep watered.

Ornamentals:

  • Do NOT fertilize shrubs. Late season nitrogen can reduce cold hardiness of woody plants.
  • Christmas cactus can be kept outside for a few more weeks. Naturally shorter days and temperatures down to 45° will start development of flower buds.
  • Stop watering the amaryllis bulb and allow the leaves to die down. After the bulb has rested for several weeks you will probably see a new shoot begin to emerge in November or December.
  • If some of the summer annuals are spent, go ahead and pull them out and replace them with pansies or ornamental cabbage.
  • Start checking house plants for signs of insects so they can be treated a few times before moving back indoors.
  • If you have houseplants outside they will need to come indoors when temperatures dip below 50° F.

Fruits:

  • Tend to the strawberry bed. Remove weeds and fertilize as the plants are forming next spring’s flower buds now. Water if September rains are lacking.
  • Prune blackberries and raspberries after harvest. Remove the canes that bore fruit this year.

Vegetables:

  • Transplant broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and leafy greens.
  • You can still seed kale, turnips and spinach.
  • Keep an eye on cabbage family crops that may need insect control. A weekly application of Bt bacteria spray will prevent cabbageworms. Use insecticidal soap for aphids if needed.
  • Consider planting a cover crop on vegetable beds to build organic matter for next year’s garden. This is a good time to plant clover, vetch or Austrian winter peas. Mow and turn under in February or March before next summer’s planting.
  • Dig sweet potatoes before frost.

Other:

  • Continue to tend the hummingbird feeder. Migrating birds will appreciate the food supply during their long journey.