Q: What’s best to do in September for my lawn and garden? — Elizabeth Allen, Arroyo Grande
A: September is a pleasantly busy time in the garden. As the weather becomes milder, we continue to harvest our summer crops, tend to our lawns, plant for our winter harvest and add color and variety to our landscapes.
Enjoy the warmth of an afternoon sun in your garden while you sow your preferred varieties of cool season crops, including beets, carrots, chard, lettuce, radish, spinach, turnips, and the like. For winter harvest, sow or transplant twice what you would ordinarily plant for spring harvest since these will grow more slowly in cooler months. “Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” is a lovely refrain from an old song to hum as we pot some frost-tender herbs for indoor use over the winter.
Fall is the time to plant colorful ornamentals to brighten the winter landscape and bulbs for a burst of color next spring. Asters, baby blue eyes, bachelor buttons, daisies, delphiniums, lavenders, love-in-a-mist, pansies, snap-dragons and violas are but a few whose names hint at their riot of colors. Daffodils, crocus and chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) are three bulbs which, if planted now, will adorn your garden in the spring.
You can increase the yield from summer crops by pinching off the growing tips of melons, squash and indeterminate tomatoes. This will force growth into fruits that have already set and hasten ripening before the onset of colder weather.
Citrus, avocado and other fruit trees can use a feeding to help them harden off for winter. Cool season lawn grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and fescues that grow rapidly in the fall will also welcome some fertilizer. For hard thatched lawns, you might want to consider aerification (coring) with an aerator for better water and nutrient penetration.
A poet once said, “Fall comes to us as a prize.” As we harvest the fruits of our summer labors, we can equally enjoy our time in the fall garden.
GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners at 781-5939 on Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. in San Luis Obispo; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon in Arroyo Grande; or at 434-4105 on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at http://groups.ucanr.org /slomg or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .