Gardening Tips for September 2017

Dear Gardening Friends,

Garden Consultation: Late summer is when you can assess your successes and failures and make improvements for next year. What to keep, what to get rid of or what to move. A Garden Consultation can help you decide what worked, what didn’t, why these issues occurred, and what you can do about them. Call or e-mail to set up an appointment.

  • Time to start fall garden chores if you haven’t already and weeding should be at the top of your list. Every weed you get rid of now is one you won’t have to deal with in the spring. Besides, removing them now will prevent a lot of weed seeds from spreading.
  • It’s also an ideal time to divide and move perennials.
  • Your perennial needs dividing if:
    • It has outgrown its space
    • The bloom has diminished
    • The center of the clump is dying back so the clump looks like a doughnut
    • The saying goes, if the plant blooms in spring, move it in the fall. If it blooms in fall, move it in spring.
  • It’s also a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Check local nurseries for sales.
  • Perennials will be on sale as well. Check sale plants, trees and shrubs carefully for signs of insects and disease. An unhealthy or infested plant is no bargain.
  • Trees and shrubs, as well as perennials should be planted when they will have at least 4 weeks for their roots to settle in.
  • Anything planted now whether it’s a perennial, tree or shrub should be well watered until the soil freezes.
  • If you had lily leaf beetle this summer check leaves for larva. I thought the season was over and I found larva the other day under leaves. Yuck!
  • Plants not growing properly, this would be a good time to have the soil pH tested. Knowing the proper pH is crucial to healthy plants. Testing now gives you the opportunity to make any adjustments before next spring. You can bring a sample to the Cooperative Extension or get a kit from a local nursery and do it yourself. Go to the website, erie.cce.cornell.edu, to see directions of how to take the soil sample.
  • Bulbs can be planted now for best results as they will have time to set some roots before winter. That being said, you can technically plant them up until the ground freezes.
    • If you have problems with critters digging up your bulbs put a square of small gauge chicken wire over the planting hole (under the top surface of soil so it isn’t visible). The bulbs will grow right through the chicken wire. Large gauge hardware cloth can also be used.
    • Don’t add bone meal to the bulb planting hole as it actually draws critters. If you use any fertilizer mix it into the soil so it doesn’t burn the bulbs.
  • This is a good time cut back stems on plants that are past their prime. If it looks more brown than green you can cut it back. Any diseased plants should be cut back and the cuttings discarded.
  • However, it’s not necessary to cut back all the perennials. Leaving plants with seed heads intact is good food for winter birds. The crowns and leaves of the plants also serve as a protective cover for the plants against temperature changes during the winter.
  • I tend to leave most plants intact for the winter and leave fallen leaves in the garden beds. It’s good for protecting the roots from temperature fluctuations as well as providing necessary winter habitat for many beneficial insects and their larva.
  • Early September is a good time to bring in annuals for the winter or take cuttings. This should be done BEFORE the nights get cooler and your furnace goes on. It’s also best to take cuttings or bring plants in when they are in their prime. They will not do well after they start diminishing.

Lawn care:

  • Fall is a good time to reseed or over-seed your lawn.
  • It’s also a good time to apply fertilizer if your lawn needs it. Applying fertilizer when the lawn is brown and dormant is not advised.
  • Natural fertilizers are much better than chemical fertilizers. However, if you mow high, leave the grass clippings on the lawn and lightly spread some compost over the grass. That’s all you need to do.

Happy Gardening!

Lyn Chimera