September 2010

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GARDENING TIPS FOR SEPTEMBER

September is a transitional month – leaving summer, going into fall.  Though the weather in September is usually still quite warm, even uncomfortably so, subtle changes will be noticed.  It seems darker when the early alarm goes off and shadows become longer earlier in the evening because the sun is setting a bit earlier.  Many plants will hint of the change with diminishing blooms and tired looking foliage.  The first day of fall is September 21st, even though some days will still feel very summer-like.

Fall color will begin to show on some deciduous trees before long.  It is time to think about fall planting.  Fall is the best time of the year to plant most things, particularly large plants and trees. We will have about 3-3 ½ months before the soil becomes too cold to encourage much growth.  During that time, anything you plant should be able to develop a fairly good root system to help carry it through cold winter months, provided it is cared for properly.  It will drop its leaves if it is deciduous, then rest  during the cold winter period and, then be ready to greet spring with vigor.

Many customers had a disappointing experience with vegetable gardens this year, most of it due to the cool and sometimes wet spring weather.  There were even a couple of hail storms that were so damaging that some people just started over.  If you had a great garden, congratulate yourself, if not, you were in good company.  It is about time to try again – winter vegetables will be available soon.  Get your garden spot ready.

This is the time to plant bulbs for spring bloom.  We have experienced a decreasing demand for a wide variety of bulbs in the past few years.  This fall we will offer daffodils and tulips only – several varieties of each.  They should be available soon – they were to be shipped in late August.  Plant winter annuals as soon as they become available to allow them to become well established before the weather becomes cold.  They will bloom better for you all winter if established.  Perennials can be planted now, as well.  They will go dormant and bloom next spring or summer.

Any plant that is known to be frost sensitive (such as citrus) should be planted as soon as possible to develop a good root system to give it the vigor needed to carry it through the cold winter.

If you plan to plant lawn from seed this fall, do it soon.  It needs the warmer weather to encourage fast growth. It may not survive the cold weather if it is sparse and thin.

Ground covers from flats can be planted now, but don’t wait too long.  They, like the grass,  need to become fairly well established before it becomes too cold or very rainy. They have a very small root system at the time of planting which can be damaged by a heavy frost, or possibly washed out by a heavy rain.  Plant them soon to give them a good chance to put on some growth before the cold, rainy season comes.

September is a very important month for fertilizing most everything in the yard.  Trees and plants will store food in their trunks and limbs to carry them through the winter and help them leaf out and bloom next spring.  It is necessary to get the fertilizing done before this season’s leaves begin to fall or the fertilizer will not be utilized by the trees and plants – there must be working leaves, not leaves that are almost finished for the season.  The evergreen trees and shrubs that do not lose their foliage also go dormant by slowing down their growth and resting during the winter months and also should be fertilized in the fall.  Don’t forget your fruit trees – they not only bloom and put on new leaves, but also set and put energy into growing fruit.  For most things, a balanced fertilizer such as

16-16-16 (or 12-12-12 etc.) will do the job.  Citrus and roses will benefit more by using a fertilizer that is formulated for them.  Plants that have already set their buds for their spring bloom period should not be fertilized at this time, but should be fertilized following their bloom cycle.  Rhododendrons and camellias fit that category.

Summer vacations are becoming memories for many as they settle back into old routines.  It’s time to enjoy the fall gardening season.