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SEPTEMBER: What to Do in the Summer


In the Edible Garden

  • Fall is the ideal time to have your soil tested since this is the slow season for labs. For a free soil testing kit, call 773-233-0476.
  • Plant a green manure crop such as oats or rye in vacant garden areas to add organic matter to the soil. Till into the soil in the spring. For a listing of seed sources for green manure crops, call 773-233-0476.
  • Dig up and repot herbs for growing inside during the winter.
  • Plant lettuce, radishes and spinach for a fall harvest.
  • Sow a fall cover crop at least 4-6 weeks before hard frosts. Annual rye can be sown at a rate of 1-2 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
  • Start a compost pile.
  • Harvest winter squash. Cut with a piece of stem attached. Discard any with soft spots. Will keep for 3-4 months stored in a cool basement.
  • Plant radishes, lettuce, kale and spinach for fall harvest.

In the Ornamental Garden

  • Divide perennials. Dig up the plant. Cut into sections, plant and water.
  • Renovate the lawn. Early September is the best time to seed bare spots
  • Plant perennials. They need 3 to 4 weeks of mild weather in order to become established before winter.
  • Plant trees and shrubs—both balled and burlapped and container-grown. But wait until spring to plant the following because they are susceptible to winter damage: dogwood, tulip tree, sweet gum, red maple, birch, hawthorn, poplars, cherries, plums and many oaks.
  • Purchase spring-flowering bulbs. Larger bulbs will give you larger flowers. Choose firm bulbs with crisp papery skins and with no mold.
  • Give your lawn a fall turf feeding. Use a fertilizer where the nitrogen is mostly water insoluble or controlled release. This application will provide stronger and healthier growth next spring.Control broadleaf weeds such as dandelion, clover and plantain. In the fall, broadleaf weeds are storing energy reserves in their roots for the winter. The herbicide will enter the weed and travel to the roots with the food reserves, thereby giving a complete kill of the weed. Spray on a calm day. Follow all label directions.
  • Watch for multicolored Asian lady beetles to enter the home as temperatures cool. To keep them out, caulk and seal any visible cracks and spaces around the exterior of the home. Indoors, vacuum the beetles up and discard the bag. They will not reproduce indoors. Do not crush the beetles because they will stain surfaces.
  • Plant pansies as weather cools.
  • Divide daylilies.
  • Plant chrysanthemums in containers for fall color.

In the Indoor Garden

  • Bring house plants indoors before night time temperatures drop below 55 degrees. Inspect plants for insects and diseases. Repot plants if necessary. Expose plants gradually to reduced lighting. Bringing plants from bright light to reduced light will cause leaves to drop, but new leaves will form after plants adapt to lower light.
  • Force spring-flowering bulbs indoors for holiday blooms.
  • Wash windows so indoor plants will receive maximum light during winter.
  • Check houseplants for insects and diseases before bringing them back indoors. Isolate them from other houseplants for 2-3 weeks.

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questions

I have a nicely sheltered, rounded 7-foot tall Japanese red maple on the southeast corner of my backyard. Half of the tree has lost its leaves, the formerly red bark is turning gray, and a good-sized square of bark has been stripped off on the side that faces the yard. I sprayed the exposed bark with black pruning spray to close any entry for insects. I have not cut off any of the branches.

Does the winter have any effect on the tree? Should I look for some insect infestation? What should I do now?

I am interested in improving fall color in my yard. What shrubs turns red beside burning bush (Euonymus alatus)?

Is there an overall rule about when to pinch back my leggy plants?

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