What to Do In the Garden in September

What to Do In the Garden in September
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What to Do In the Garden in September

Garden is Winding Down in September

Ah, the refreshing feel of September. Kids are back in school; temperatures are starting to drop, and your summer garden is starting to fade away.

Prepping Your Garden for Fall

Is your summer vegetable garden seeing its last golden days of sunshine this month? Unless you’re one of the few lucky ones that can keep a summer vegetable garden all year long, you’re likely wrapping it up this month. There are a few different things that you can do to your summer vegetable garden this month to prepare for your next round of growing.

Summer vegetables are heavy feeders, which means they pull a lot of the nutrients out of the soil. If you aren’t working to replenish those nutrients, your soil will become depleted, which will make it really hard to grow much. The fall is the perfect time to add amendments to your soil. Once you pull up your vegetable plants, add a thick layer of mulch or compost. You can work this into the soil if you’d like. This is a great time to add compost that may need to break down more before the next planting season. Simply layer it on top and let the weather help it to break down further over the next few months. By next spring, it will be good to go.

If you’re not a fan of leaving the soil empty, but you want to add nutrients back to the soil, plant some cover crops. Cover crops are a great way to keep the soil active in your garden. Certain cover crops, like legumes, can add nitrogen to the soil. When the crops have completed their growing cycle, simply till them into the soil as a green mulch.

We can’t bring up fall without mentioning our favorite option- planting a fall garden! It’s always better to continue growing fresh, healthy vegetables. Many veggies that you can’t grow in the summer can be grown in the fall and winter months. Leafy greens like spinach and kale, lettuce, root crops like turnips and carrots, and even cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower will produce really well when it’s cold outside.

What to Do in the Garden in September Based on Your Zone

Zones 3-4

Now is the perfect time to plant out bulbs for next year. Planting the bulbs now will ensure that they have time to become established so that they can sprout and bloom at the correct time in the spring. When you think of planting bulbs, you probably think of planting things like tulips and lilies. These are great to add to your flower beds, but don’t forget about the vegetables that are also bulbs that you can plant. Onions and garlic can be planted this month and harvested in the spring.

Any edibles that you have planted will be giving off their last harvests this month. Make sure that you keep up with harvesting them until the end. Once they’re gone, they’re gone! Preserve any extras you have by canning, freezing, or drying them.

Zone 5

September is a great month in Zone 5 to start doing a little maintenance with perennial plants. Take the time to divide up any perennials that need to be divided. Perennials that get too large will become overcrowded and can develop bald spots in the middle of the plant. Dividing them helps to prevent that. Split up perennials like lillies, hostas and other bulbs this month and replant them so they have time to become established before the next growing season.

Add compost to your soil and flowerbeds this month. Compost will help to provide nutrients to your plants as they get ready to go dormant this fall. It will also help to reintroduce some of the nutrients back into your soil that were pulled out this growing season.

If you haven’t yet, get your fast-growing cool season vegetables into the ground. Spinach, kale and lettuce can be sown this month.

Zones 6- 7

You’ll likely still be harvesting some summer crops this month, but that’s quickly drawing to a close. Plant your leafy greens this month as you start to pull up your spent summer crops. This is also the perfect time to get garlic bulbs and onion sets in the ground. These crops will grow all winter and you’ll be able to harvest them in the spring.

Take the time to prune up your perennial plants if needed. Once the foliage starts to die back on herbaceous plants, you can prune it back. Split up any plants that need dividing. Use a spade to dig up bulbs and split them into multiples and replant them.

This month you can put new plants into the ground. If you’re looking for some fall color in your flower beds, add pansies to your garden this month. These are really cold-hardy and will bloom in cold weather, even with a good frost.

Zone 8

September is still a busy gardening month in Zone 8. You can begin adding your started fall crops to the garden as your summer garden dies back. When you pull up a summer crop, replace it with one or two fall crops. Many of the fall crops tend to take up less space, so you’ll be able to fit more crops in the space where your summer vegetables were. Start transplanting lettuce, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, spinach and other cool-season crops outside this month.

Once you have some of your transplants planted and you’ve freed up some seed-starting space, go ahead and start another round of seeds. You can start seeds for herbs like parsley and basil. Lettuce, kale, onions, carrots and fast-growing cool-season vegetables can be started this month also.

Want to add some unique color and fun to your flower beds or planters? Try adding some ornamental plants like ornamental cabbage. This will add interest and color to your garden that will last well into the colder months.

Zone 9

Did you plant fall squash like pumpkins, acorn squash or spaghetti squash? You can harvest those this month. Wait until the stems turn brown and then cut them from the vine. Once the stems have been cut, wipe the squash or pumpkins off to remove any dirt or debris. If you want to store them, you can wipe them with a thin layer of oil and put them on shelves in a cool, dark room.

Your summer garden won’t last forever, but you can keep your garden going. Once you pull up your summer crops, start planting cool-season crops like lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes or peas.

Do you grow grapes? If so, they’ll be ready to harvest this month. This means that you’ll have wildlife to keep off of your grape vines as well, especially if you’re growing a red or purple grape. A simple mesh net over each cluster will help to keep animals from stealing your harvest.

Zone 10

This Zone has a long growing season, so you can still get some fast-growing summer crops out of your garden if you haven’t yet. Okra, tomatoes, and peppers can be transplanted this month to get a last-minute summer harvest. You’ll get even more out of your plants if you grow early season or fast-growing varieties.

If you’re not interested in keeping your summer garden going, you can use this time to split up any perennials, trim back shrubs and trees and amend your soil for the next season. We recommend doing a soil test at the end of the growing season to get a more accurate idea of the amendments that your soil can benefit from.

Zone 11

The summer heat is finally drawing to an end this month and you’ll start to see cooler, although still warm, temperatures. You can start seeds for your next garden outdoors this month since you really don’t have frost dates to worry about.

This month, consider adding some tropical fruit plants to your garden. Bananas, citrus trees and other perennials will produce fresh, delicious fruit for you for years to come. Larger fruit plants can create shady spots where you can plant smaller fruits and vegetables that might not be able to contend with the intense summer sun.