September Gardening Tips & To Do’s

September gardening lists are long. There’s as much to do now as there was in at the height of spring planting and summer harvesting. The work you do in the garden this month helps insure a productive garden next year. While the list is long the temperature and humidity here have dropped making gardening a pleasure again rather than a chore. Catch up on everything you didn’t get done in the heat and enjoy getting ready for autumn.

I’ll start watching the weather forecast for frost warnings now but hope it’s late this year. I have pumpkins no where near being close to ripe.

September gardening

September Gardening List

  • No fertilizing until spring.
  • Clean up under fruit trees to prevent scab disease. I let my chickens go under the trees to eat the apples and scratch up the soil, and then rake up and dispose of what’s left.
  • Cut perennial herbs back one more time. They have time to regrow and perhaps flower again before they become dormant.
  • Lop off the top of the Brussels sprouts. This forces energy into the sprouts so that they mature before it’s too cold to grow. They’ll hold once the weather turns cold so leave them in the ground.
  • Give cabbage that are large but still growing a tug up and a quarter-turn. Clockwise or counter clockwise doesn’t matter unless you’re superstitious. This will stop the plant from growing but leave enough roots in good contact to keep the cabbage from starting to spoil. Later in the month, pull the entire plant and hang it upside down in a cool, low humidity space. I hang mine in the basement.
  • Keep up with weeds.
  • Soil test. Yes! Now. You’ll likely get your soil test results back quickly because most gardeners wait until spring to send their soil sample. By doing it now you’ll get a head start on amending the soil for next year’s garden.
  • Plant garlic and spring flowering bulbs like daffodil and crocus.
  • Transplant peonies and similar spring flowering plants.
  • Build compost piles with spent plants and the leaves that start to fall later this month. Our first leaves down will be from ash trees. They’re already yellowing. Piles can add up quickly this time of year. When they shrink down so much they don’t hold heat to continue composting you should combine the smaller piles into one.
  • Clean and put away tools you won’t use again until spring.
  • Seed and transplant those last crops you can’t bare to go without. Do it now before the days are too short to promote good growth and roots to hold them over the winter. Have you thought about low tunnels? Give it a try!
  • Check the frames of your raised beds. Are they sturdy enough to stand up to freezing and thawing? Make necessary repairs.
  • Plant your trees so they have time to establish roots. Water them well and continue to water weekly if it doesn’t rain, until the ground freezes.
  • Apply mouse tape to the trunks of young trees and woody perennials.
  • Plant a cover crop in space you’re no longer using. It will improve the soil and help prevent erosion. Clover and vetch, winter wheat, barley and rye are used.
  • Have your frost protection ready. Sheets, tarps and floating row covers. After a frost you’ll leave the cover on until the frost melts.
  • Seed your autumn perennial seeds. If the flowers are going to seed now, it’s time to plant your seeds for those plants. Look at neighbors’ gardens or call the cooperative extension to talk to a Master Gardener if you’re not sure what you can seed this month.
  • Dig up perennial herbs to bring indoors for the winter. Be sure to leave enough in the garden for spring.
  • Last but best of all, enjoy a cup of hot coffee, tea or chocolate as you stroll through the garden, orchard or around the yard on a crisp, sunny morning. Enjoy!

September gardening is a joy. It’s my favorite time of year. Sunflowers, corn stalks, hay bales, pumpkins turning orange…it doesn’t get much better.