Beginner Gardening Series: September Edition
September is the month where you can look at your garden and take stock of what worked and what didn’t, harvest the remaining produce growing in the garden (except for a few frost loving plants, will talk about that later) and put your garden to bed for the winter. If you live in some of the warmer climates, you can now restart your garden! For the plants that like the heat (like tomatoes and peppers), start the seeds indoors or buy starter plants. I, however, live in zone 5-6, so no replanting of the garden here. I will be taking the steps to put my garden to bed and do what I can to get it ready for next Spring.
T A K E N O T E
Get yourself a cute little notebook (don’t we all buy one everytime we go into Target?!) and take note of your garden. What grew well in the garden this season? Did your tomatoes get enough sun? Did your squash plant succumb to mildew? These are observations that will help you in planning your garden for next year! Your placement of plants may change based on your observations. For me, I need to move where I planted my squash because it was affected by mildew. So…I need to find a place that gets more sunshine to prevent this from happening again.
W H E N T O H A R V E S T
Are you daily looking at your peppers wondering if they are ever going to turn red?? While it is ideal to let peppers, like tomatoes, ripen on the vine, there does come a time when all the peppers and tomatoes need to be harvested from the garden and left to ripen indoors, out of direct sunlight. So yep, harvest your tomatoes and peppers, even if they aren’t perfectly ripe and let chemistry do it’s thing indoors. Now with this said, if you have planted some “cool crops” you can leave them in the garden until after the first frost. Some cool crops are Kale, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Spouts, Spinach, Collard, Asparagus. A quick Google search of “cool crops” will provide a great resource if you are wondering if any crops you have planted are considered a “cool crop”.
TIP: you can leave carrots in the ground through the Winter (they may actually get sweeter as the carrot holds on to it’s sugar to combat the cold), however, you will need to harvest them before Spring as they will go to seed and not be edible.
P U T T I N G the G A R D E N to B E D
One thing I always need when going to bed is a blanket, your garden likes one too! There are a couple of ways you can create a “blanket” for your garden. You can grow a cover crop. Stay with me here, this sounds much more complicated than it really is. A cover crop is as simple as tossing some seeds on your cleaned out garden bed. This helps create a barrier between the Winter elements and your garden soil. Cover crops also give back vital nutrients that were taken from the soil to produce all your yummy veggies! A seed that I recommend is Cereal Rye. Sprinkle the seed ideally 4 weeks before the first hard frost, or as soon as you can after cleaning your beds. Literally let nature do the work and watch it grow. If planting another crop has you rubbing your temples, then a nice layer of straw or some other type of mulch will also provide a sufficient barrier for your garden soil against the harsh winter elements.