September is a good time to start planting the fall vegetable garden. Make sure you select a site that has full sun. It should be well drained. Seeds are less expensive than plants so get the best. Plant small seed, such as turnips and carrots 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Plant larger seeds 1 inch deep. We sell Botanical Interest Seeds and Renee’s Garden Seeds. All the 2024 seeds are now available. You may plant broccoli, kale, cauliflower, collards, turnips, beets and carrots for harvest in early winter. If the weather remains very hot wait to plant your lettuce seeds since the plants will bolt in hot weather.
If you would rather buy plants we will have those available about the middle of September. The lettuce plants will be available about the end of September.
The 2024 fall planted wildflower seeds are also available now. October through January is an excellent time to plant seed for these spring flowering annuals. They bring an abundance of color to the spring garden. Many of these seeds need the cold weather to help them germinate. Prepare the area by lightly tilling or raking the area. Then sow the seed with 1 part seed to 4 parts sand. This helps to disperse the seed so there won’t be clumps of seed in one place and none in the other. Then water everything in. The seeds are sold for $1.00 per tablespoon or teaspoon depending on the size of the seeds.
Bulbs should be arriving about the middle of September. The bulbs we carry are for our southern climate. They will provide seasonal color and naturalize very well. Plant your bulbs in full sun in well drained soil . Don’t forget to water them after planting.
The rule of thumb is to plant bulbs twice as deep as the bulb is tall. Now that might work in some areas of our state but here in the middle of Alabama I have found that the bulbs do much better when they are planted a little shallow. Just covering the top of the bulb. They seem to get the necessary chilling they need to flower and come back the next year. I have an area where I am trying to naturalize daffodils. I have bought the southern mix of daffodils but very few of them have returned because I am sure I planted them too deep. Last year I planted them much shallower we will see what happens in spring!
We are very excited about our garden sleeves. These sleeves are UPF50+, moisture wicking and breathable. They are made from recycled materials. I bought pair and used them while I was picking okra. They worked wonderful and so much cooler than the long sleeved shirt I was wearing.
Amphibians & Reptiles
Beth Roberts’ Kids in the Garden class about inviting Amphibians and reptiles to your garden was a big hit. Everyone had a great time. The Alabama Nature Center brought 2 snakes, a salamander, a frog and turtle. The kids had lots of fun. They got to touch all the animals if they wanted to and took home materials to make a toad abode. If you have children between 6-10 you won’t want to miss her next program on Tree Detectives.
If you re looking for a butterfly magnet Caryopteris may be just what you are looking for. It is a woody perennial that grows to the size of a small shrub. It is a late blooming shrub with brilliant blue flowers and the butterflies just seem to love it. There were so many Gulf Fritillary on this plant I wasn’t able to keep count of them.
Daylilies and Iris
Daylilies and tall bearded iris can be transplanted successfully in the fall. Dig each clump of daylilies with as much root system as possible, knock off the soil and some of the plants should separate. Plant the divisions about 12 to 18″ a part and keep them well watered for a couple of weeks until they are established.
Dig your iris, divide and remove any damaged parts from the rhizomes, replant. Trim the leaves into the shape of a fan. If left untrimmed the wind can blow them over and uproot them. Do not plant too deeply as the rhizomes need sun. Water about twice a week until they are rooted in. Bone meal is a good fertilizer as well as 6-10-10. Fertilize in early spring and again about a month after bloom. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers since it encourages rot problems.
If you find some of your tall bearded Iris collapsing and the rhizomes are mushy and foul smelling, the problem could be Iris Borers. If you are finding this, you have already missed the borers. The only thing to do now is remove the mushy part from the rhizome, rinse the remaining portions with a diluted bleach solution (1:9 part bleach to water) and allow the rhizome to dry, exposed to air and sun for a few days before re-planting.
The adult iris borer lays eggs in August and September that over winter in the leaves and garden debris. The following spring the larvae hatch and begin feeding on the new growth. They tunnel downward to the rhizomes, feeding as they go until late July or early August when they move into the soil and pupate and emerge as adults to complete the cycle. The wounds they leave allows bacteria to enter the plant resulting in the soft rot.
A solution would be to use a product that has imidaclopid in it once in the spring. The low tech way would be squashing the borders when they are inside the leaves and cutting off the leaves below the borer.
Black Swallowtail Butterfly
If you are finding this caterpillar on your parsley, fennel, caraway or dill don’t be tempted to kill it . It will soon be a black swallow tail butterfly.
The apples are now being harvested. Once harvest is complete on your fruit trees apply a light application of fertilizer, often only nitrogen is applied from July to early September depending on the fruit plant. For example, once apples are harvested we would apply a very light application of calcium nitrate (2 to 4 ounces) per tree to our 8 year old trees. This type of fertilization enables the trees to overcome the stress of heavy cropping without becoming to vigorous as they approach fall. Plants that have good vigor and did not have a heavy crop should not need any fertilization.
Keep your perennial beds and fruit orchards free of weeds going into the fall and winter. Be careful if glyphosate (Round Up) is used. Generally it is best to move to another herbicide this time of year such as the “Grass Killer” Sethoxydim sold as Grass Getter. Round up can still be used but be careful around your fruit plants not to get it on the trunks or stems as it can be absorbed into the plant.
Late September would be an excellent time to apply pre-emergent to your lawn to prevent those pesky winter weeds from germinating. Once they sprout it is too late to apply the pre-emergent. Fertilome Broad Leaf Weed Control with Gallery is an example of one that will control winter weeds and spring weeds.
Trees and Shrubs
The shrubs and trees should be arriving about the end of September also. Fall is a good time to plant since the weather is cooler and we usually get some rain during the winter months.
Dig your hole twice as wide as the container the plant is in and only as deep as the container. Mix a little Black Kow in with the existing soil. Always water when you plant to settle the soil around the plant and remove any air pockets.