September Garden Care

“You may delay, but time will not.”            Benjamin Franklin

Labor Day Weekend is growing dim in our memories and most believe this is the end of the gardening season…not yet!  The average first frost in the Denver metro area is the first week of October (caveat: it can be as early as mid-September or as late as the end of October).  Keep some lightweight frost covers handy for those chilly nights and maybe one or two extra for you.

Here are a few Fall pointers for the season:

Now is the time to keep harvesting any ripening fruit and vegetables. If you have an abundant supply of produce, check with your local food bank to share the harvest.

Dig up clumps of chives, rosemary, and parsley and place them in pots on a south-facing indoor window to enjoy fresh snipped herbs all winter. Cut bunches of sage, tie together and hang on a hook in the kitchen to dry.

Winter squash and pumpkins are best gathered before the frost kills the vines and when the rind resists the fingernail test (cannot puncture the rind).

Do not wait to clean until all the plants have lost their leaves.  Make it part of the Fall gardening schedule to get out and trim any dead branches, diseased plant material (do not compost), and raking.  This chore is more difficult when the temperature drops and rain has soaked the plants and they become matted. 15-20 minutes each day is manageable.

Keep deadheading perennials and annuals while the weather is still mild.  Side shoots may still send out a few more flower buds to enjoy.  Leaving a few leaves on the plant will allow it to keep making foods to send done to the roots as they get ready for winter.

Divide plants in your garden that do well. This, will help keep the original plants healthy and keep them from getting too large. Budget-wise, dividing perennials is a free source of quality plants.  Consider dividing Bee Balm, Daylilies, Yarrow and Salvia in the fall.

When composting, the smaller the plant parts added, the more rapid the decomposition. Do not add any plant material that is diseased.  Many destructive bacteria, fungi, and viruses can overwinter in the compost pile, so keep it clean.

Bring in any houseplants you want to save from frosts.

Cover plants with frost blankets to prolong their season if we have chilly temperatures (available at Creek Side).

Fall planting is good for a number of reasons:

  • The days are starting to cool down, finally, slower trans-evaporation for plants.
  • The nights temperatures are lower, too.
  • Warm soil temps that kep roots active.
  • The precipitation will be increasing.
  • Grass seed germinates well in the temperate days.
  • Time was a factor during the Spring and Summer!

The promise of Spring is just around the corner with the beautiful array of tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, and allium bulbs which should be planted now.

Planning is the key to success for any home landscape/garden endeavor and this is an excellent time time to get your soil tested. Creek Side has the free soil test kits ready for you to fill with your soil. You pay a small fee to CSU Extension and postage to send the lab in Ft. Collins. You will receive a professional analysis of your soil and any amendments it may need. This is the one of the best investments you can make toward gardening success.

As the Fall proves to be mild before the first frost, enjoy the cool days and evenings to work in the yard and get it ready for a long Winter’s nap. Harvest, Clean, Plant –  Repeat.

Keep watering any flowers and veggies after the irrigation system is turned off.  Especially fall plantings!