Getting the most from your Garden as the Thermometer Begins to Drop

Posted: September, 2012 | Linda Boyer

I wonder who made the rule that Labor Day marked the end of summer.  I don’t think they were a gardener.  September still has warm, balmy days and soft, refreshing evenings.  It seems to me that, with the relief of intense heat and drought, nature takes a deep breath and relaxes a bit this time of year.
In the garden, this can be such an enjoyable time.  Watering worries are done for the most part, cooler nights mean the end for most insects, and we are still harvesting many crops.  Working in the garden is much more pleasurable with the thermometer a few degrees lower.  Now is a good time to take note of what grew well and what adjustments you may need to make for next year.  We gardeners are perennial optimists, there is always next year.  It is time to clean up exhausted, dying, or harvested plant material.  Add an inch or two of organic compost in these newly opened areas.  If you planted a cold crop such as broccoli you can add some mulch around them as well.  Mulching keeps watering needs to a minimum.  The herbs still have some growing to do.  Cut your herbs regularly, keep them clean and they will respond with new leaves even this late in the growing season.  This is also a good time to clean your annual beds.  Pull weeds and dead plants and add mulch to freshen those beds.  You may have decided to plant bulbs for next spring.  Give some thought as to what bulbs you want to plant and map out where you want to plant them.  Soon you will be replanting the annual beds with ornamental cabbage, kale, and fall mums.  September is also when you will really appreciate the marigolds and late-blooming perennials that you planted last spring.  These plants don’t know it is past Labor Day and will bloom continually for weeks to come yet.  Dead head the marigolds often, keep your garden weed free, and they will bloom effortlessly until the first frost.  Yikes!  Did I say first frost!?  I don’t even like the sound of those words.