Note: For 2015 I’m republishing our lists of garden chores – remember, these are simply checklists to help remind you of a what can be done – you don’t need to do them all (I don’t!) – just what fits your yard & garden AND your schedules.
Ah, September – the days turn golden and the harvest is plentiful! We’re also turning our minds to fall and if you live in an area where you can plant things like lettuce, cabbage and kale for fall, then it’s time to clean up and make sure there’s room for those transplants – and soon, since that should be done in the first half of the month.
September for us in the Pacific Northwest and similar areas is also a big preserving month – and putting up the garden produce is one of our biggest garden chores. It’s also a time we can glean from wild fruit trees or neighbor’s gardens. So I tend to concentrate on getting the produce harvested and preserved this month, leaving the major garden clean up for next month. Of course, it’s also time to plant a few mums to see us through the fall and decorate with pumpkins!
Garden Chores by Month: September
Vegetable & Fruit Garden
- Mulch around strawberries to protect from cool weather.
- Clean up the veggie patch, pulling spent crops. Be sure to gather all plant debris—stem, leaf and fruit bits. Don’t compost diseased or buggy plants discard or burn them instead.
- In areas with mild seasons, plant a short row of lettuce every two weeks until mid-October.
- Add organic matter to the garden bed before planting winter crops like broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, garlic, carrots and beets.
- Plant garlic now through October that will grow through the winter and be ready to harvest next spring. Plant individual cloves 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart in full sun and well-drained soil.
- Cure winter squash so they will store well into winter: place squash on elevated screens in a sunny spot for 10 days. If nights threaten frost, carry squash indoors for the night.
- Take a last picking of any herbs to dry.
- Plant cover crops (peas, oats, annual rye grass and crimson clover) on the fallow winter garden beds.
- As the season closes, the tomatoes that won’t ripen on the vine can be harvested to ripen indoors or used in recipes (this is the best way I’ve found to ripen tomatoes indoors).
- Save seeds for next year’s garden. The key to successful seed-saving is to make sure the seeds are completely dry before you store them.
- Plant fall annuals like pansies and violas and replant garden containers with mums and cabbages.
- Buy bulbs for spring blooms now to get the best selection – daffodils, tulips, etc., – but wait for cool weather to plant, if it’s still hot in your area.
- September is a good time to divide irises and daylilies.
- Mulch can help your perennial beds go through fall in good shape – if previous mulch has gotten thin, add more to keep weeds from sprouting and to protect plants’ roots during the coming winter.
- Take cuttings of coleus, begonias, geraniums and other annuals to overwinter: pot them up after roots develop and place them in a sunny window before planting outdoors again next spring.
- Continue to deadhead flowers of perennials and annuals as they bloom and fade to keep them blooming through the fall.
- Fall is a good time to select and plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Fall planting encourages good root development and gives the plants a chance to get established before the spring growing season, next year.
- Start raking leaves or mow over them by attaching a grass catcher bag to the mower you can collect a ready supply of chopped leaves that to layer into a compost pile or use as mulch on your vegetable garden.
- Shorter days and cooler daytime temperatures reduces the amount of water your lawn needs – cut back your sprinkler time by 25%.
- September is one of the best months of the entire year for seeding or sodding new lawns. It is also a good time to overseed an old lawn with new lawn seed to help fill-in the bare spots and crowd out weeds and mosses.
Note: These garden to-so lists are not comprehensive by any means, but meant to provide a jumping-off point to organizing your garden chores. Feel free to print the lists and add any of your own specific chores to the sections.