September’s here, and it’s a huge transition month in the garden! And you’re probably ready for it, too — this summer has been an unusually hot one for many of us, and right about now, you and your garden are probably ready for a little break. And because your brain might be a little fried from the heat (we’re not judging; we’re in this with you), we’ve gathered some garden goals to help keep you focused and moving forward.
Garden Prep Goals
- Write down your top 3 goals for next season’s garden — fall is the time for most of us to get going on them, and knowing your priorities will make that job easier and more enjoyable.
- Place your bulb order so you have what you need for fall planting.
- Place your bulk mulch order for fall mulching — ordering in bulk is much more cost effective than purchasing individual bags.
- Review this past season’s garden and make journal notes – about what went well, what you’d like to adjust or do differently, weather patterns, varieties that were successful — this is all good information to build on for next year’s garden.
Garden Chore Goals
- All Zones: Clean up your garden, and remove anything that is dead, diseased, or past its prime; you want a clean slate for your fall garden. Prep your beds for the next season — add compost, adjust edging, Can, preserve, dehydrate, or freeze your end-of-season harvest. Save seeds from valuable garden plants, and label and store them properly. Want your annuals like sunflowers, zinnias, and poppies to reseed? Stop deadheading them and just let them go! Remove weeds before they go to seed to avoid a weed explosion next year. Test your soil if you’re wondering about any deficiencies. Turn those compost piles and keep them moist so they continue to “cook!”
- Zones 10-11: Gardeners in these mild zones can keep planting according to recommendations in their area. Remember to give your plants deep watering rather than frequent sprinkles; you still have warm weather and your plants will appreciate the extra irrigation. Cut back any tired-looking perennials to give them a break. You can also begin gathering seeds for vegetables such as beans, bell peppers, and eggplant so that you’re prepared to sow them next month. Start strawberry seeds now so that they’re ready to transplant in October.
- Zones 7-9: Resist the urge to buy those pretty cool-season annuals at the garden center. In many areas, it’s still just a bit too warm for those annuals to thrive and be happy. Start seeds for your fall garden if you haven’t already, or direct seed spinach, lettuce, beets, and carrots. Stop pruning and fertilizing existing plants – this will only encourage new growth which could be susceptible to frost or freeze.
- Zones 5-6: It’s not unusual to see frost late in the month for these zones, so be prepared to cover or protect any plants that need it. Sow cover crops in your empty beds. Set your cold frame-up. Move plants into the greenhouse or other protected areas. Plant your bulbs promptly after receiving them. Dig and divide daylilies, iris, hosta, and peonies. Dig up and store dahlias, begonias, gladiolus, and other bulbs and tubers. Thoroughly water trees and shrubs so they enter their dormant period hydrated.
Garden Chill Goals
- You might be noticing cooler morning temperatures lately — even if you live in a very warm climate, fall mornings are typically much cooler than they are later in the afternoon. Go outside and enjoy it; it’s literally the “breath of fresh air” that you may be needing right now.
- Appreciate this change of season. Gardeners are people who are very connected to the natural world, and the rhythms and cycles that go along with it. Noticing when there’s a shift in temperatures, weather, and activity gives you an opportunity to pace yourself and get reenergized.