A Gardening Checklist for September
It's September, and the season's greatest bounty is mingling with the demise of many plants. Our peppers are ripening to their fullest flavor, pumpkins and winter squash grow fat, and dahlias, tithonia, and morning glories blossom profusely, singing their colorful songs of self-realization. At the same time, death and disease meander through our garden beds freely: tomato vines succumb to various diseases as they move into their later waves of fruit; summer flowers like cosmos, zinnias, and calendula tilt toward seed production and away from bright blooms; and dying outer leaves appear on nearly every crop. This interweaving of life and death energies is ever-present in the garden—dead plants become compost become vibrant young seedlings—but in September it is garishly prolific, as is everything this time of year. Still, there is much to do now that affirms possibilities and sets up future successes—and doing these tasks against the backdrop of September decline fortifies the soul in a way that few other garden tasks do. In the garden as in life, the lesson is the same: keep on sowing!
Sow for Fall Harvests
Plant Next Year's Crops
Also sown in September are the few ultra-hardy vegetable crops that we consider "winter annuals." These crops—namely spinach, mache, and wild arugula—can be sown in September and will overwinter as young plants; they will then grow swiftly once spring conditions permit, providing the first fresh green harvests of the season in March, April, and early May.
Give Back to Your Soil
Accept the Changes Brought by Fall
More Garden Activities for September:
- On cool and overcast days, divide spring and summer blooming perennials–like daylilies and peonies–and replant. Water in well.
- Cultivate a section of the garden for fall-sown wildflowers.
- Browse local nurseries to shop for fall-planted trees and shrubs.
- Fertilize roses; remove diseased leaves and dead canes.
- Pot up decorative kale and mums for late-season color.
- Dig up herbs like Parsley and Chives to bring indoors as potted plants for a sunny windowsill.
- Dry flowers like Strawflower, Gomphrena, and Love in a Mist to create a pretty fall centerpiece.
- Read this poem about "September Tomatoes" by Karina Borowicz.