Monday, September 1, 2008

To Do List for September

The angels have arrived! The above picture is of the first bloom of the Angel Trumpet plant, aka Brugmansia candida. I just love these plants even though they have not been hardy for me. I will always garden with them. My dear friend Geri dug this one from her garden last year and delivered it to me. It is an outstanding plant standing over six feet tall and full of blooms. I thought I'd share it here with you. I did post on the one I grew last year, but sadly it did not return. This one will be dug this year only because I have to move it anyhow. But I am going to try to overwinter the other two outside by placing a heavy bag of compost on the roots, and circling the plant with a cage of leaves stuffed really tightly. Wish me luck!

This month sees the returns of rains for us in September and moderation of temperatures. Fall is the ideal time to plant and work in the garden. Fall is also my favorite season of the year. I would much rather rake in the fall garden than plant in the spring garden anyday.

This is a few of the tasks I expect to do this month. If anyone would like to add to it-please do. I have added the previous suggestions made through the comment section to the applicable month and will continue the tradition. My goal is to have a comprehensive, tried and proven list of to do chores for gardeners in my area to complete or expect to complete each month. Now if I could just work on that list of blooming plants. But that is another story.

1) Continue to harvest vegetables. All vegetables should be going strong well into October here in my Zone 6/7 garden. I generally do not harvest gourds until the first light frost or until the vines have died back. I would not expect to remove any vegetables from my garden until October when our first hard freeze is expected. Don't be afraid to pull non-producing plants and replace with some fall crops. I have pulled zucchini, but also cukes might be giving up the fight, and other squashes.

2) Continue to plant your fall crop. Some crops you may wish to plant include: lettuce, radishes, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, and beets. I plant onions and garlic in October, but it would probably not harm anything to plant them late this month.

3) Plant any potted mums you have growing. Mums and all perennials need a bit of moderate temperatures in order to start growing in the fall prior to winter arriving. They should have some new growth, however, just because the top is killed back by frost does not mean the roots will not continue to grow in the soil. Soil temperatures must be quite cold in order to stop action for the plant. That is why it is okay to plant shrubs in the winter-as long as the ground is not frozen or below 40-45 degrees.

4) Continue to mow your lawn. I mow mine at the summer height until late mid month or until the rains return regularly.

5) Overseed cool season grasses mid month. Fescue often needs overseeding each year to remain thick and healthy. Fescue should never be seeded in the spring, fall is the ideal time to seed. Always aerate before seeding.

6) Begin planting winter annuals like pansies, and hardy kale for fall/winter interest. The pansies will awaken in the spring and put on a great show.

7) I am beginning to prepare to bring in my houseplants. I prefer to do this slowly all through September so that I don't have a big rush all at once. It will not hurt plants to come in early. Be sure you don't bring any unwanted guests in by watering very well and allowing the water to drain out of the pot. Check for frogs and toads.

8) Like PGL, you should order bulbs, seeds and starts early. In other words-plan now for your spring garden and order early.

9) Stop pruning plants. Any pruning done now will stimulate more growth. You do not want this as the new growth might not have a chance to harden off before a freeze comes in. This is what happened last spring when tender new growth was zapped by the late freeze. The late freeze was not the problem! It was the early and warm spring that caused plants to break dormancy early, thus resulting in tender new growth that got hit hard. So don't prune and cause the same thing to happen in the fall.

10) Start removing spent foliage and cleaning beds. Tidy up all beds and add compost. My vegetable garden gets about 1 inch or so of fresh compost on it in the fall each year. I firmly believe this is why the ph and nutrients are ideal in the vegetable bed. I just wish I could make enough to cover all garden beds.

11) Soil test. I cannot stress this enough! It is vitally important! How can you garden without knowing what you have to grow your plants in? It is like cooking with brown sugar instead of white sugar. Both are sugar and could work, but would it be the same and provide the right taste or nutrients as in the case with soil? So soil test. You will not regret it.

12) Collect seeds for use in the garden next year. Some seeds I collect are: dill, cosmos, and cleome.

13) Prune back rampant annuals like sweet potato vine. (Thanks Les!)

14) Divide and replant your perennials. Some favorites I like to move and divide are: hostas, daylillies, irises, brown eyes, coneflowers, and sedum. You should have all cuttings planted that you have been growing since the spring and early summer. Some I have planted are: mums, sedum, and veronica. These will do well if planted now over the winter. My cutting mums should even bloom this year. (Thanks PGL!)

15) Take cuttings of plants you want starts of next year. I do the following: lantana, brugmansia, artemisia, coleus, hydrangeas, pineapple sage, amsonia, and that is all I can think of for now!

16) Collect heirloom vegetable seeds such as tomatoes. (See comments below for the method of collecting these seeds-thanks TC!)

If anyone else has some to do things they do in their garden in September, please let me know and I will add it in. We are in Zone 6/7 here in Middle Tennessee. Thanks!

Happy Labor Day to everyone!

in the garden....


  1. I always have more to do in Sept. as my free garden help has to go back to school leaving more work for me. One thing I would add to your list is to trim back any rampant growing annuals, such as sweet potato vine and spreading lantana. With our long summer and fall, I keep summer annuals in the ground until mid Oct. and they tend to out grow their space. This is a great list, thanks for sharing.

  2. I do love these lists, Tina--I shouldn't need a reminder to seed some grass--one look out the front door should do it--but of course I read your posting this morning and thought, oh yeah, gotta get some grass seed! I find that here, September is a good month for moving plants--the mornings are cool enough to get some digging done, and in a couple of weeks, when the weather really cools down, I'll start dividing daylilies, moving iris (and thanks again for the pointers awhile back), transplanting coneflower and foxglove and any other seedlings, etc. Anyway, thanks always for the reminders.

  3. This is a very comprehensive list, Tina; I can't think of a thing to add! Thanks for the tip about pruning; I have a tendency sometimes to see something that needs pruning and start in on it without thinking whether it's the best time or not. I'll resist the urge till spring now.

  4. Great to do list Tina. Thanks for the link. ;) I love your Angel's Trumpet, it is a beautiful pink shade. I hope it returns for you next year with your extra mulching. It's always better to get prepared ahead of time for the winter & spring.

  5. Over seeding is definitely on my list of things to do. It did well in the spring but I want to get a few more fescues growing. My neighbors seeded in the spring and nothing happened. Although they did feed a flock of blackbirds! Although summer back be coming to a close there is still time left. I can't wait to see the fall colors, that is if the trees still have leaves.

  6. Yep, packing up the yard up here, some of the trees have started to turn and it's getting cold at night, soon as the sun goes down, is what it feels like! Happy labor day.

  7. Happy Labor Day to one and all. Hope you all enjoy good friends and family with a fun day with lotsa good food.

  8. Les, September is a busy month for sure! I have added to cut back sprawling annuals. Thanks!

    Cosmo, I TOTALLY forgot about moving and dividing perennials. This is one task I need to get on soon! Need some rain though. I have added it and thanks!

    Rose, Pruning is one of my favorite tasks so I know the feeling. We have to resist the urge at time though.

    PGL, This huge gal has to come up. I planted it here temporarily and since I have to move it I have decided to store it under the house. I am leaving in just one, maybe two. But I took cuttings just to be on the safe side. These are such great plants and surprisingly passalong plants. Do you have some?

    Dave, I think you can seed warm season grasses in the spring, but never cool season. I prefer cool season but many in our area are going warm season. I think that is the way to go. My instructor at school says some of the newest Bermuda cultivars are less aggressive so it might be worth looking into if you'd prefer this route but I seem to remember you had cool season?

    Dawn, Hard to believe the summer is nearly over. We have to rake here already too and I think it is too soon. Closing up the pool due to the leaves. Usually it is closed already due to acorns but no acorns this year due to the freeze last year. Time to get ready for winter!

    Mom, We are SO relaxing this weekend. The Army has apparently switched its four day weekends from Fri-Mon to Sat-Tue. Mr. Fix-it has the full weekend too! Woohoo! It is so humid though.

  9. Hi Tina - I hope you're enjoying the long weekend. Looks like we dodged the frost here last night, and the mist has burned off to blue sky. Phew!

    My only garden chores this year will be cleaning up the plants, pulling out the veggies, and MAYBE planting some garlic.

  10. Tina,

    The brugs are lovely! I just can't bring anything inside and all we have is a carport! Does that sound like whining? I think I'm whining! LOL!

    A very comprehensive list and thanks for the pruning reminder, I was going to take off a limb or two on my Crape Myrtle!


  11. Hi Tina, I am a bad girl and just came in from some pruning! It was some large limbs on the yoshina cherry that I had let get too big that were hanging too low and it was a big task on a ladder with the saw, argh! I could not put it off any longer or a chain saw would be needed! I have pulled the squash, they were so full or worms it's not worth trying to soak them in salt water. I did spread the strawberries, they were rooting in the path, a great year for the first year. Watering and weeding continue. The orchids need a soak of sevin before coming inside, twice. I did plant some mums from the grocery, sometimes they make it but Sheffield pink is number one! I have divided and moved some salvias May Night. The rest of the moving and dividing has to wait until next month or even later. Mid winter is the best time here, for the ground to be nice and moist. Thanks for that good list and good luck with the brug, it's a beauty.

  12. Amy, Glad you dodged the frost! No more in the future I hope.

    Gail, I put mine in the crawlspace of my house. It works so well! A carport would not work. But Frances' neighbor mulches his with leaves in a wire basket, and a local expert here says to go one step further, place a 40 lb bag of compost still in the bag on top of the root ball after you cut it down. I would love to share some cuttings if you want to give it a try:)

    Frances, I think the cherry would be fine. That guy must be growing fast! The one our front if I remember correctly. My sheffield you gave me is doing so well. I can't wait to see it bloom and will spread it around. You have been busy! First the 'Hop' then the garden. Where does the energy come from. btw, I can never look at another violet the same way. They are calling me to weed them! We've had no rain here in a long time and the ground is too hard to do any gardening. Gustav is going to be a washout for us, no pun intended as it is not coming here. Looks like our friends in Texas will get some rain. ttyl

  13. They grow easily here in zone 9. At night their aroma fills my backyard and screenporch. When I purchased mine, intended for the entry way, the grower made me promise to grow behind a fence because some teenagers died a few ago from using it as a hallucinagentic (spell?). Could be a urban legend but I plant in the back yard anyway. Vickie

  14. Vickie, I never heard that of the Angel trumpets and it is very interesting. I don't doubt it though since it is in the brugmansia family which is highly poisonous! I wish mine were hardy but it's okay. What color are yours?

  15. How about saving seed from your favorite heirloom tomatoes too. All you have to do is squish out some tomato in a jar, add water, cover, and wait for a layer of scum to form over the surface of the water. This usually takes a week to ten days. After the scum forms, pour the water and scum out slowly, add clean water, and gently "rinse" the seeds until the water is clear. Bad seeds will float, the good seeds sink to the bottom of the jar. After rinsing, scatter seeds on a paper plate and allow to dry. Store your seeds in a small brown envelope. And don't forget to write the variety name, and year on the envelope.

  16. Mine is pink. At one point it looks as though it will be whiteiwth some yellow but it turns out pink when the bloom opens. Mine only had a scent at night. That plant has gotten huge! If it weren't for competing foliage, I believe it could be a tree.

  17. Love those brugmansias Tina! I have three of them, two variegated Sunsets, and one plain-leafed sucker or seedling from the mama brug. No blooms on mine yet this year, there's just not enough sun in the back yard. I moved two of them to the front in the past few weeks, hoping to get some blooms before it's time to bring them in.

    They're so easy to start from cuttings. I took cuttings to the nursery last fall where I stuck them in some soil. This spring they'd already gotten quite large and were blooming. Customers snapped them all up during their first bloom of the season.

    Your Southern Belles are gorgeous, and home to so much wildlife! How cute the way the critters use your snow to feather their nests, and even recycle it from old nests. They're very resourceful!

    Hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend!

  18. Hello All,
    I hope all had a wonderful holiday weekend.
    Tina the Angel Trumpet is beautiful. I have the lavender & dwarf dbl white. Both bloomed earlier. The white one has some ball looking things on it. What should I do with those? I started these from seed. I started out with Red, purple & dbl White. Lost the Red one. I think a bird ate it as it was just coming up. I leave mine out all winter--they just loose their leaves. I think I should prune them back. Maybe they would do better. When should I prune them? Before they loose their leaves or after?
    I also have mine in the back yard as I know they are poisonous. I also have mine in pots. Maybe next Spring I will put the lavender in the ground as it gets big.
    Jean, Dawn, getting chilly yet? It sure would be welcome here at my house.
    Mesquites are terrible.

  19. Sorry Skeeter, meant to tell you to have a ball. Glad you are able to pop in briefly.
    Nina, good talking with you.

  20. Tina ~ your lists are so helpful. For sure there is always something I forget. Although, I don't think I always get to check everything off my list. Something always carries over - lol!
    Your Angel Trumpet is a beaut!

  21. TC, Great information on saving heirloom tomato seeds. I have to confess I am not good in this area. Thanks! Please do a post on you and Felder and DR. Dirt.

    Vickie, I believe the brugmansias so want to be trees for sure. Make lots of room for them and yours sounds lovely. Mine smells at night too and I bet yours is heavenly and gets lots more blooms than mine up here in Tennessee.

    Linda, Having a great weekend but probably not as restful as yours:) I hope your angels blooms soon. I am sun challenged too and know how it is. The cuttings I took are doing great and I can just bet customers would snap the ones you did up right away. Angels are not easy to find in big box stores (my favorite spot to shop for plants) so they were lucky. You should do even more this year.

    Lola, How is my dear and faithful blogging friend? It is always so grand to see you on here! I am glad Gustav spared your area this go around. The spiky balls on your white jimsonweed are seedpods. I would leave them in place and let the seedlings come up next spring. As for the angels, I am really not sure what to do with them in Florida. I would say cut them down to about 1 foot or so either in the winter or spring before new growth begins, but I am not sure which is the best time to cut them or even if this is what one would do down there. It works for us up here and I don't think it would hurt down there, but not really sure. Yes, I think I would put one in the ground. Still hot here and lots of biting insects! Killing me. You take care now. Hope I helped.

    Cindy, Thanks so much! I love my angel especially since it was a passalong. My lists for some crazy reason keep turning into long articles. lol. Gotta work on that. Maybe not so many explanations? But if they help then that is the goal.

    G'night all!

  22. I am going to cheat and use your list. That brugmansia is beautiful.