If you’re like me, you’re wondering where summer when. Can it really be September already? Can the beauty of the summer garden actually be behind us so soon? Wasn’t it just May yesterday? Oh no, gardening can’t be over already? Well, it’s not. And these five gardening tips will help you extend your garden and keep your hands dirty through September.
Gardening Tips: Dig Out Tender Bulbs
If you planted dahlias, cannas or tuberous begonias, now is the time to dig them out and store them for the winter. Wait for the frost to kill of the top part of the plant, then using a gardening fork dig out the tubers. Shake off any excess dirt, rinse them off with a hose and trim off any rotten, mushy parts. Let them air dry for a couple of weeks before storing in a box lines with spaghnum moss and newspapers in a cool dry place – a cold cellar works well.
Gardening Tips: Photograph Your Hits/Misses
Head out to the garden, camera in hand and photograph the layout of your beds, those plants that worked well and any plants that didn’t. This will give you some record of your hits and misses for the year and help provide you with a clearer vision come spring. I don’t know about you, but I can never remember what those little green shoots are come spring. Then I’m surprised to find that those leaves weren’t day lilies but were in fact, spiderwort. This year, I’ll be taking copious amounts of photos of my secret garden - it’s been overrun with helopsis (those yellow flowers you see above) to the point where the roses have been hidden. They’ve got to go. But I won’t remember how large they’ve become next spring with this record.
Gardening Tips: Stop Pruning and Fertilizing
Even though we instinctively want to give our plants one last feed before the cold sets in, now is not the time to fertilize as most plants are going into their dormant period. You don’t want your trees and perennials to produce new growth at this time of year because it will be weaker and may not survive the cold temperatures yet to come. So put away the fertilizer till spring.
The same thing goes for pruning. Pruning a shrub for shape should be done before the fall. So if you’ve missed cleaning up that lilac bush, wait till next spring after it’s finished blooming. You’ll risk cutting off next year’s blooms by pruning now. Plus just like any “surgery”, pruned branches are in shock and need time to heal. With colder days ahead, this is not the time for such surgery. BUT you can cut off any dead branches and twigs. This won’t harm the shrub or tree.
Gardening Tips: Plant Garlic
Now that you’ve cleared the garden of the early harvest, it’s time to plant garlic. Start by creating a furrow about 2″ deep. Break apart garlic bulbs into individual cloves, leaving on the papery husks. Plant about 7″ apart and then cover with enough soil so that the tips of the cloves are showing. In areas where snow comes and goes, mulch the garlic before the first heavy frost with a layer of leaves about 5″ deep. This will protect the bulbs from freezing and thawing.
Gardening Tips: Harvest Herbs for Drying
Before the first frost kills off those tender herbs, get out into the garden and harvest them so that you can enjoy them all winter long. There are a number of different ways to preserve herbs:
- traditional hang to dry method
- oven drying
- infusing in oil
- microwave drying
- drying on cookie sheets
I’m lucky enough to own a dehydrator. You can see them at yard sales for a reasonable price and although it’s only used once or twice a year, it’s something I love to own. So I dry my rosemary, oregano, parsley and thyme this way. With the harvest of basil, I chop and freeze it or use it in pesto. Basil doesn’t seem to dry as well as other herbs losing some of it’s fresh taste. So I’ve found that freezing it in ice cube trays gives me that just picked flavour in soups, sauces and stews come January.
September is the time of year where we can sit back a bit and enjoy those last blooms in the garden. It’s a great time to tidy things up a bit by edging the beds and weeding. So even though the blushing beauty of summer is gone, there is still a lot of beauty in the garden as the leaves start to turn and perennials take a nap.