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September 2014

In-between time
It's not quite summer any longer but it's not quite fall, either. September marks the transition from a hot summer garden to the cool fall gardening season. Weeding and watering continue as usual. September tends to be quite dry in our area, so water and then water again a few days later. The plus side of all of this weeding and watering is that your garden should be at its peak of beauty with lush growth and vibrant colors. There is no time more colorful in the garden than the transition from summer to fall.

In the vegetable garden
It is time to plant cool-season crops like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. In Kentucky, fall is the best time to grow and produce cauliflower. From the middle to the end of September is the time to sow seeds of radishes, lettuce, spinach, kale, and arugula. These leafy greens germinate quickly and in just a few weeks, you can have a plenty of fresh greens. Plant a small row each week and you will have a constant supply of leafy greens throughout fall.

You can plant onion sets, if you can find them, for a fall crop of scallions or green onions. At this point, there is not enough time to produce onions for storing, but green onions are so versatile and tasty. If you are not exhausted from all those garden chores, there is still enough time to plant and harvest a crop of sugar snap peas and the small varieties of carrots.

In the landscape
The middle of September to the middle of December is considered peak fall planting season in our area. First, focus on planting perennials and ornamental grasses; as October nears, switch to planting cool-season annuals and spring-flowering bulbs. By the middle of October it's time for planting trees and shrubs, and with the bulk of the dry weather behind us, you won't have to water your newly planted trees and shrubs as much as you would have earlier. The general rule for watering still applies, even in the fall: Water anything newly planted once to twice a week unless it rains a lot.

Planting cool-season flowers and spring-flowering bulbs is my favorite fall chore. By the end of September I have put my plan in action, beginning by switching out any dull summer color with bright and cheerful pansies. After that, I start preparing the garden for spring-flowering bulbs. Thank goodness for spring-flowering bulbs in the garden! I always plant a few clouds, about 10 to 12 bulbs, of daffodils around the first of October so that I will be pleasantly surprised with an expanded bulb collection come spring.

The lawn
September also is a great time for cool-season lawn renovation or spot seeding. If you have a few bare spots or a more extensive project, complete it early in the month to give seed enough time to germinate and grow before winter. You will have to water frequently and shallowly in the beginning, but once the seed has germinated (in about two weeks), you can gradually lengthen your watering time and allow more time between watering until you are just watering once a week. It is good idea to have your new grass seedlings up and mowed several times before fall foliage starts to hit the ground.