I’ve noticed the almost ghostly rising of the fog on the golf course while driving by at night and the other day…gasp, I had to put on a sweater in the evening. Fall is just right around the corner though I am holding out for a few more luxuriously warm September days. September is usually pretty busy with harvesting if you grow ‘em and perusing farmer’s markets if you don’t. Fasten your seatbelts folks here is the list:
You can aerate and apply a fall fertilizer to your lawn. Don’t apply fall fertilizer if you lawn is dormant (beige), that will not help, water however, will. Now is also a good time to apply beneficial nematodes if you have a problem with grubs or weevils. You can also turf, renovate, over seed and of course mow, the good news about all that work is that we CAN do it, unlike the folks in Southern Alberta because they have SNOW – for real. This is a great time for your lawn, this is the time of year when your lawn really takes root! It is a somewhat smaller window of opportunity than spring to do all that lawn work, so get cracking.
Trees and shrubs
In the Pacific Northwest, fall is another great window for planting! The air is cooler, the ground is still warm and Mother Nature usually helps a bit with the watering. It's a great time to add plants with fall colour. Some of our favourites include Japanese Maples, Acers (Maples), SweetGums, Katsuras and Persian Ironwoods. A few shrubs with nice fall colour include blueberries, fothergilla, burning bush and oakleaf hydrangeas.
You can do a small bit of pruning and deadheading of trees and shrubs removing the dead, damaged and diseased branches but leave the main pruning till the winter when your trees and shrubs are dormant, ditto for moving trees and shrubs.
Weed, deadhead, clip back and generally tidy…but not too much. I know I sound like a broken record but native pollinators next in the hollowed out stems of perennials, on sandy type soils and on South facing slopes. It is a great time to add new plants to the garden but wait a bit towards the end of the month for perennial divisions. Don’t forget to bring some colour in to the house; Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and cuttings from my Oriental Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) are my go-to early fall bouquets.
Planters and hanging baskets
Check drainage in your perennial and evergreen planters. Continue to water and fertilize your annuals and hanging baskets. You‘ll get a few more weeks out of them yet! We have a very cool fall hanging basket class coming your way if you are interested. Once your summer hanging baskets have had the biscuit, don’t toss them, just cut off the greens and stick them in the back yard till you are ready to fill them full of evergreen boughs for Christmas. The root mass acts as a kind of oasis and is great to keep the branches in place!
If you have some gaps in your all season planters, you can fill with pansies, kale (you can eat it when you are tired of looking at it) and other fall and winter colour. I do like to wait until it gets a bit cooler so my Mum’s don’t blow (a horticulture term meaning bloom out in one short period…not teenager slang) and my Pansies don’t stretch out and flop over.
It's a busy time for you coming up with the leaf drop! Good idea to put a bit of a net if you have a smaller pond to catch the leaves. Towards the end of the month you can maybe scoop out the annual floaters like water hyacinth. Do some general tidying each week to save you a big weekend job come October.
Harvest, harvest and harvest…weed a little too. There are a few things you can still get in the ground for a fall/winter crop like some lettuces. You can plant Garlic towards the end of the month now too!!!
Be on the lookout for some new combinations. I usually pick some up as soon as they come out now and plant mid-October. What can I say, I like to keep my neighbourhood squirrels well fed. THIS year I will remember to soak them in the bitter taste deterrent Bobbex and see if that slows them down. My neighbourhood squirrels do have good taste in bulbs though! Check out the new varieties of bulbs for 2014
Now is a great time to inspect and fix the fixable and toss or repurpose the tools that are not (hint…they make great stakes or gate attachments). It's also a great time to invest in new tools as pruning season is just around the corner ( when most things go dormant).
That ought to keep you busy for now. There are a ton of farm gate veggie sales and farmer’s markets to take advantage of right now. There are also some wonderful Fall Fairs coming up…ours on Sept.21 and 22 is one of them. Hope to see you there!