Q: I’m unsure what gardening activities I should be doing now. Any suggestions? — Sam S., Atascadero
A: September’s a great month in the garden, and there’s plenty to do. Though some days may be summertime hot, days are shortening, shadows are lengthening and fall colors will begin to appear across the landscape with the arrival of the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22.
Fall is our best planting season. Select healthy trees and other permanent plants, considering your site, drainage and soil requirements. Consider selecting and planting California natives, and be sure they have enough water until rains begin.
You can plant fallblooming perennials, such as asters, chrysanthemums, daylilies and salvia, which add fall color to the garden and will be in good supply in September.
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Divide and replant spring-blooming perennials, such as bearded iris, that produced few flowers or were smaller than usual. Share the extras with friends and neighbors!
Mulches decompose in the warm months, so it’s a good time to add more to the garden. It’s also a good time to check your watering system to make sure it’s working properly and not wasting water.
Fertilize trees, shrubs, groundcovers, roses and warm-season grasses.
If your lawn is in bad shape because of drought stress, insects, weeds or other factors, and you want to spruce it up. September is a great time to do so.
A light pruning of roses will reward you with another round of lovely blooms once daytime temperatures have moderated.
There is life after basil! Plant some perennial culinary herbs such as parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme or winter savory.
The kitchen garden is a busy place. Continue harvesting summer crops. Many delicious and nutritious coolseason vegetables can be planted now from seed or starts: beets, cabbages, car rots, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mesclun mixes, mustards, green onions, peas, radishes, spinach, turnips and rutabaga.
Lastly, don’t forget to take some time to enjoy the warmth and renewal the changing seasons bring to your September garden.
The top two tomatoes at an informal tomato and basil tasting at the Master Gardeners’ Tomato Extravaganza and Plant Sale on Aug. 18 were New Girls and Sungold.
To learn more about these varieties, visit www.growabundant.com.