September and October are traditionally the warmest and driest months in the Bay Area, and a time for harvesting the last fruits of summer as well as beginning to prepare the garden for the dormant season.
Here are some ideas on what gardening tasks might be at the top of your list for the month of September:
The veggie garden:
- Seed winter crops, such as fava beans, beets, carrots, kale, chard and lettuces. These can also be started in flats and then transplanted later.
- Remove plants that have finished producing, and enjoy your summer harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, strawberries, blackberries, chard and whatever else is in the garden ready for picking.
The flower garden:
- Plant California Poppies and Sweet Peas for gorgeous spring color.
- Start thinking about which shrubs and/or trees you might want to plant later in the fall. Fall planting takes advantage of winter rains and results in strong plants.
- Water young trees to maintain their health through the hot months. Trees prefer infrequent deep watering – for a young tree place a soaker hose around the drip line and leave it on for a few hours once every two to three weeks.
- If you have a lawn, leave the clippings on the lawn and allow them to decay naturally. Grass decomposes quickly and provides nitrogen for the lawn.
- Keep a look-out for garden pests such as aphids, thrips, whitefly and the like. They are easier to eradicate when caught early. For pest control, try using Neem oil or insecticidal soap instead of harsh pesticides that kill beneficial wildlife and pollute the environment.
- Feed azaleas and rhododendrons to help them set buds for next spring. A layer of fresh compost is a gentle and natural way to support these plants as they prepare for their next bloom.
- Keep the soil clean under your plants. Roses, camellias, rhododendrons and other plants will drop diseased leaves this time of year, and unwanted pests will winter over under these leaves and come back in force in the spring. So remove the leaf drop, and your plants will be healthier next year.
- Use compost tea to prevent pest problems. Make a sun tea with compost and apply it to foliage with a sprayer. The compost tea contains beneficial bacteria that will fight diseases on your plants.