Gardening Columnist Maggie L. Moor-Orth offers tips on what to do in September to ensure healthy gardens, and maybe some fare for your Thanksgiving dinner table.


The following is your gardening calendar for September:

First Week of September:

Start a compost pile. Apply lime and fertilizer to your lawn area. It’s a good idea to have a soil test done to know the correct amount needed. Space strawberry runner plants about six-inches apart. Pull out extra plants. Harvest vine-ripened vegetables from plants that continue to produce. Select a short-day variety tomato plant like “pixie” and start it indoors in a peat pot. When large enough, transplant into a three and one-half inch or larger pot and place in the sunniest window in your home. Tomatoes require six to eight hours of light daily. You will have to keep artificial light on them part of the time. Water and feed them regularly and you should have tomatoes for your Christmas dinner.

Second Week of September:

Collect and dry herb blossoms, grasses, and seed pods to decorate your holiday wreaths. Start cuttings from geraniums and begonias. Dig up and divide roots now if you’re thinking about starting new peonies. You may want to use a sharp knife to slice through the root system. When dividing, make sure each division has three or four buds (the small pinkish colored buds at the crown of the roots). When planting your new roots and buds, do not place the tops deeper than two inches below the soil surface. If you do, the plant will produce foliage, but may seldom bloom. Provide moisture to promote new root growth. Select and prepare the site now if you are going to plant or establish a spring flowering bulb bed. Be sure there is good drainage; add three to four pounds of limestone per one hundred square feet and two to three pounds of 5-10-10 garden fertilizer.

We have a fact sheet on Spring Flowering Bulbs. If you would like one, call the Extension Office at 857-6426, 730-4000 or 856-7303.

Third Week of September:

Plant evergreens and ground covers. To transplant needle-leaf or cone-bearing evergreens, be sure each plant has an adequate rootball. Clean up garden debris and add to your compost pile or turn under the vegetation, but not where you have your fall crops growing. To improve soil structure and decrease erosion during the winter, plant a cover crop. These winter cover crops can be planted from Sept. 1 through Nov. 1. Bring in your Thanksgiving or Christmas cactus, place on a cool porch or cool part of your house, and do not water for four weeks so that buds can set. After that time, fertilize well and resume weekly watering.

Last Week of September:

Keep strawberry beds weed free to make weeding easier next spring. Plant spring bulbs. Depth of planting varies with the size of the bulb, for example, tulips are about five to six inches, four to seven inches for daffodils, three to four inches for hyacinths, and one and one-half to three inches for small bulbs. A good rule of thumb when planting bulbs is to set them three times as deep as the bulb’s greatest width. Don’t wait for frost warnings to bring houseplants indoors. For many tropical houseplants, night temperatures of 50 degrees or lower can cause damage. Check all houseplants that are brought in for pests and diseases and for repotting where needed.

MASTER GARDENER TIP:

Call your local County Extension Office to see what gardening workshops are offered this fall.