After such a tough summer, we are excited about our September garden chores as a big part of them is planting our fall gardens. The break in the summer heat that arrived with the start of September is already showing in our gardens. Plants that don’t thrive in the heat of summer are starting to wake back up. Strawberries are about to start flowering so are our raspberries. Even though our gardens are definitely showing some summer stress, things are looking up. With a little rain in the forecast, we should see some happy plants going into the fall.
With a little fall cleanup, our gardens will be ready to be replanted. Come October, our gardens will be lush all over again as we rush to grow everything we can before the first frost hits. It’s going to be a great fall in so many ways.
Do an early fall cleanup
Clean out garden beds.
Summer vegetables are fading out as are many annuals. It’s time to yank out those fading plants and get ready to plant for the fall. Clean out plant debris and leaf litter especially if you had a bad year with pests. Be diligent because pests and diseases can overwinter and plague you next year.
Pay particular attention to your fruits. Get dead fruit and plant debris cleared out. This helps reduce the opportunities to spread disease. Remove any branches that have died back as well as any debris around the base.
As you are cleaning out the garden beds, take the opportunity to save seeds as you go. By September, many plants like beans, lettuce, and many early root crops have flowered and produced their seed for the year. Remove the seeds and let them completely dry out before storing them in a cool dry location.
Give your gardens a clean edge.
A nice edge on the garden beds makes all the difference the in the world. September is the perfect time as turf grass will start actively growing again in the milder temperatures. Plus, it’s so much easier to do with a few less plants in your way. Knock this September garden chore out after your clean out the garden beds.
Mulch plants to keep the soil cool.
Getting a little bit of mulch on your plants can have a pretty significant effect on cooling off the roots of your plants. I have always been a fan of mulching often. A healthy soil can break organic matter down very quickly, so I am always replenishing where needed. I like to spread at least an inch of compost over most of our plants this time of the year. It helps feed the soil throughout the fall.
Get ready for transitions
Prep houseplants for winter.
Give all of your potted plants that overwinter indoors some attention. Check for any pests or disease and treat them before they come inside. When temperatures start to drop below 50, get any your plants ready to move to their winter residences. If you have a houseplant hoarding problem (like us), you might want to plan ahead of time in case there is a bit of furniture moving involved!
Keep the compost cooking.
Our lawn and gardens will soon be blanketed with falling leaves. We always kick our compost up a notch during September to get ready for the huge influx of leaves in our compost.
With the milder temperatures approaching, the best window to divide our perennials will soon be upon us. . Daylily, iris, liriope (monkey grass), rudbeckia (black eyed susan), yarrow, and many other perennials can be divided and replanted in the fall. The last warm weather of the year will encourage enough root growth for the plants to fully establish before winter. Give newly planted perennials a nice layer of mulch for a little boost going into the winter.
Amp up your fall garden
Start planting fall crops.
The time is finally here to fill up the fall garden. This, of course, is my favorite of our September garden chores. Plant the last of your fall vegetables by the middle of the month. Broccoli, collards, chard, and other leafy greens are all great candidates for September plantings. Try planting a row or two of spinach, lettuce, and chard every couple of weeks for a continuous harvest.
Use cover crops where you aren’t growing
Use the open space to grow some winter greens or plant a cover crop for a green manure. Keeping something growing in your garden helps encourage good soil ecology. Planting a cover crop can add fertility back into the soil.
Start planning (and planting) trees and shrubs.
Fall is a great time to start planting trees, shrubs, and perennials again. Start planning now where you plan to plant. Plants that get transplanted in the fall have time to develop a better root structure going into the winter. Cooler temperatures .
Keep fighting pests and disease.
The temperatures may have let up, but the pests don’t seem to get the idea. Keep checking regularly and often. Keeping pests under control in the fall does a lot to prevent them from overwintering around. This is one of the September garden chores that can pay off for a long time without you even really noticing.