Donna’s Garden Tips for September
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Cut beans and peas back to the ground after they finish bearing. Leave the roots in the ground as they will release stored nutrients back into the soil.
After harvesting pumpkins and winter squash, wash them with a 10% bleach solution to prevent rot. Never sit them on bare ground or concrete.
Keep the area under fruit trees clear of tall grass and weeds to discourage meadow vole damage. Under the cover of tall plant growth these animals can quickly girdle the tree, causing death.
Spread newly dug potatoes out to dry for a few hours before storing them in a dark, cool area. Never store in plastic bags. Also, never wash potatoes as this shortens their storage life. If dried soil clings to the tuber, clean it off with a soft, dry brush.
Do not fertilize trees and shrubs. They need to start slowing down in order to prepare for winter dormancy. New growth, late in the season could be damaged by an early freeze.
It’s time to fertilize the lawn. 10-10-10 or slow release lawn food will do. If using 10-10-10 apply 20 lbs. per 1,000 square feet.
Get those spring bulb orders placed. It’s still a little early to plant but if you wait until later to order or purchase, you might not get the colors you want. Put them in a cool, dark place. If storing in the fridge, never put them with apples.
Plant cover crops such as cereal rye on bare garden ground. This keeps down weeds and will add organic matter and nutrients to next year’s vegetable garden.
Soil tests are available at the Extension Office. If the lawn or garden has struggled this growing season, a good place to start is with a soil test. It’s simple to do and only costs the price of postage.
September is prime time for planting turf grass or over-seeding cool-season lawns. Sowing in September gives the newly planted grass plenty of time to become established before the first freeze.
If rhododendrons didn’t have many flowers last spring, add some triple phosphate around the base of the plant this fall. It will aid in formation of blooms for next year.
It’s time to check the exterior of the home for minute cracks and entrances before lady beetles and stink bugs begin to invade to overwinter in walls and attics. Add sweeps to garage doors and exterior doors. Caulk around window frames and doors. Make sure attic vents are secure.
Divide peonies, leaving at least 3 eyes in each division. Plant the divisions no more than 2 inches deep. If peony flowers were scarce this season, division might be the solution to your problem.
When leaves begin to fall, keep them raked. Don’t let leaves pile up on the lawn. This can damage or even kill turf grass.
Continue to scout for insect damage on fall crops. It can happen quickly. For worm control, spinosad or carbaryl are effective.
It’s time to plant pansies. The earlier they are set out, the better established they will be for early spring flowering.
Clean up and remove spent foliage from the vegetable garden. Insects and diseases can overwinter in dead plants and debris.
Fall is a great time to control fire ants in the landscape. The 2-step bait and drench approach is most effective.
Don’t prune! It’s to late to prune trees and shrubs. They don’t have time to harden off the new growth before a killing frost.
Fall is a great time to control clover in the lawn. Use an herbicide containing 2,4-D such as Weed b Gon. There will be a waiting time before re-planting grass. Read the label for directions.
Newly dug sweet potatoes need to be cured to prevent rot. Store in a warm place 80-85 degrees for 10 days or 65-75 degrees for 3 weeks. Humidity also needs to be high-85-90%. Increase humidity by stacking crates or box and covering with paper or heavy cloth. Winter storage should be done in a dark area between 55-60 degrees.
Continue mowing the lawn as long as the grass continues to grow. It can be cut a little higher at 4 inches.
Fall and early winter are the best times to take cuttings of deciduous shrubs and trees (lose their leaves in the winter). Take 6-inch cuttings with at least 4 nodes. Apply rooting hormone and plant with 2 nodes buried. This can be done in pots and left outside or directly into the garden. Wait until leaves have fallen.