I find myself with conflicting feelings about September in the garden — should I or shouldn’t I? After a long, hot season of planting, weeding, harvesting, and preserving the garden bounty and battling the ever-changing list of pests, I want a break. But having a garden is a commitment, like having children, and the tasks are never done.
All sorts of fall veggies can go into your cleaned and prepared space. My favorites for the fall garden include loose-leaf lettuce, beets, kales, chards, mustards, collards, and cabbage. Radishes are tasty, too, in the cool weather. Turnips, carrots, and spinach can be sown, as well as garlic, shallot, and onion bulbs or sets.
You should get seeds and sets in the ground before mid-September due to several factors, including changing sunlight, soil temperature, and air temperature. If you decide not to plant vegetables, then a cover crop would be a good option, which then can be turned into garden beds in early November for final rest until next spring.
The annual flowers of fall will soon be on parade in the garden centers. Do try to put together a container garden for the front or back porch and put some color out at the mailbox. The main fall and winter blooming bedding plants to be found include calendula, alyssum, snapdragon, and pansy. Certain strains of dianthus – it looks and smells like carnation – can be found. Take time to visit the local nurseries, as their displays will be spectacular in an attempt to sell you all their wonderful plants.
It is worth an afternoon or more to visit several nurseries for ideas on putting your own container garden together. Remember the rule of three: Each pot needs a “filler,” a “thriller,” and a “spiller.” You can use small boxwoods for your filler and ivy as a conservative spiller. Pinterest has loads of photos for ideas also. Bulbs can be added to your containers for blooming in the early spring. Purchase only fall and winter color. Do this soon so your plants can get established before the change of season.
Lawn care in the fall is specific to your type of grass. Learn what type of grass you have and what it needs now and adhere to it. For me, I have well-established fescue, and as a rule of thumb, I feed my lawns four times a year, including over the Labor Day holiday. I keep the grass cut as high as possible until that shift in nighttime temperatures later in the fall. Now is also a good time to trim your maple trees, as well as divide and transplant hostas.
The moon pulls with a magnetic force on the waters that course through all that is alive. You just felt it with the experience of the eclipse. It influences the great tides of the ocean, as well as the water that courses through every cell of every living thing. In addition to its pull on the waters within soil, seed, and plants, the moon also exerts gravitational pull on the ground.
As the season shifts, I would encourage you to watch how the moon moves across your land. Observe the high tides and low tides for the month, the waxing and the waning of the moon. Try to sense the celestial pulling within you.
Fishermen fish by the moon, and some of us garden with the moon. As we shift into fall, and the light changes, the air and soil cool — notice the subtle shift within you. Take time to notice things. See you in the garden.
Kathy Slayter is a Greenville realtor and Clemson Certified Master Gardener who is passionate about growing, cooking, and eating her homegrown food. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.