A GROWING CONCERN: Gardeners have a September to-do list

OH MY — IT’S September!

There’s no time today for idle chat, so fill up that cup, sit down and get ready to plan because here comes your September to-do list.

Deep water trees

Man, I am telling you this season is dry (and last year wasn’t much better), and severe dryness takes a few years for its full havoc to manifest.

I know, I seem a bit fixated, but just water for a day every 10 days any tree you want to save or that you want to look good.

Mulch

Your flower garden will benefit but your veggies, berries and fruit trees will repay you immensely when a late summer, well-composted mulch is top dressed around those plants.

This is a great way to start the process for fall gardening.

So get a few yards delivered or fill the truck but enjoy the benefits of this time-honored gardening method.

Late summer compost/mulches also begin a process of sprucing up the yard and getting involved in the soil cycle.

Edge

That’s right, the end of August is the ideal time for a new edge around all trees, landscape beds, sidewalks, paths or whatever else the grass has begun to reclaim.

The optimum season for grass is but a few weeks away so cut those rhizomes and dig out those clumps before your grass advances another foot forward.

Bone meal/potash with cultivation

There is no single task you can perform that will increase your tuber, bulb, corm or rhizome perennial plants more than to, at the end of every August, apply bone meal and potash, followed by thorough cultivation and watering.

This essential organic feed to these types of fleshy plants is the vital link to next year’s flowers and because the cultivator is out, do the rest of the yard and give a bloom booster (low first number nitrogen count) fertilizer a whirl around everything else.

Pull dead, dying material

Can you feel the evenings getting cooler and the dew heavy in the morning air?

Fall weather is a-knocking and with it ideal fungus and mold growing days (actually months and months).

Do not let these pestilences take hold.

Yank out all those summer plants whose time is here.

Strip large and yellow leaves and rake up all dead organic material off the ground.

This is how mold and fungus enter the yard.

Germination inhibitors

I am a fan of germination blockers because they are great.

If you use them now and before Sept. 10, re-apply or fall weeds are going to get you.

Whatever your weed eradication method is, get to it now.

I see seedpods everywhere, and the temperature and dew points are becoming perfect for new crop germination.

Seed or plant the garden

This week if you have plans for a vegetable garden, try some rows of radishes, beans, beets, peas, kohlrabi, lettuce, broccoli and green onions.

If you sow now and then again in 10 days, sow another row or two of each, well, just let me say, vegetables here in the coolness of October are so fresh, green and juicy that you will know why this is the best spot to garden.

But you must sow in the next couple of days.

Shape prune

One last time, now until Sept. 10 (earlier the better) clip, cut and shape your plants.

This way your yard will be very attractive for the next best time of year and your plants will have the time to mature their new growth for winter’s assault.

Be good to your grass

Can you do this for me, at least this time of year?

Your lawn is hot and dry. Fertilize it and raise the mower height.

Let your lawn grow higher now. It will shade the ground and itself, which makes everything cooler, and with the heavy dews, the process of deep greening will begin.

And soon I will instruct you all to go to a much-beloved American cut: short, short, short (for fall).

De-sucker

Does everyone recall? Suckers suck.

They also dwell in the deciduous realm, so while your trees, shrubs and bushes are trying to store food and water for next spring’s leaf out, remove that wild entanglement at its base.

Suckers can rob 50 percent of available nutrient and moisture, so think about that.

Last chance for a trim

A lot of your plants can still have a life if cut back now.

However, this time of year it is more of an art form finding the proper place along with shape and available growing time, but you know … experimentation is a gardening commandment.

Begin fall preparation

As you read this we are already at day 10 of early late summer.

Fall is but 23 days away!

This means get ready.

There are lots of big jobs for the fall, so plan now, get tools ready, sharpened or ordered, replace needed supplies and get that new hose. And how about my favorite trench shovel? (A must for transplanting.)

But whatever you do, get ready because I am going to be all over you.

Kale and cabbage

As always, the best for last.

Just plant ornamental kale and cabbage (a lot of them).

These plants, stuck in the ground now (as in by Monday, they might be sold out) will be gorgeous for November, December and throughout the winter months.

________

Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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