Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print
It's not just the end of summer; it's time for harvesting and canning, clearing and sowing. In truth, September can be the busiest month in the garden -- not the end at all, but a time to shift focus.
Keep at it, and before you know it, fruits, vegetables and annuals will give way to chrysanthemums, autumn crocuses and a kaleidoscope of colors on neighborhood trees and shrubs. Here are 30 chores to keep you busy every day of the month.
1. If you need to reseed or renovate the lawn, this is the ideal time to do so. The season's cooling temperatures will work in your favor.
2. Pull weeds now -- by their roots -- before seeds drop.
3. Inspect evergreens, especially dwarf Alberta spruce, for spider mites. If found, blast them with a strong stream from the hose. Repeat weekly through month's end.
4. Plant perennials now. They'll become established before frost and start next season stronger than if you wait until spring.
5. If tomato plants are still producing blossoms, remove them to direct energy toward ripening fruit.
6. Plant separated, unpeeled garlic cloves -- pointy ends up, two inches deep, 3 to 6 inches apart in full sun -- now for next year's harvest.
7. It's Labor Day, time for the last fertilizer application of the year for established lawns. Use a slow-release product for best results.
8. No need to panic if the innermost needles of evergreens turn brown and fall off. Leave them be, this is normal.
9. Divide spring-blooming perennials like lily of the valley and phlox.
10. Continue to water trees and shrubs, especially newly planted ones, until hard frost.
11. Test soil and add lime, if necessary, to raise the pH. It will work its way in over the winter.
12. Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs. Removing buds now will mean fewer blooms next year. Cut away only broken or dead branches.
13. Happy Rosh Hashanah! Enjoy homegrown apples dipped in local honey.
14. It's time to harvest grapes!
15. Can tomatoes, but only those that are pristine; eat the blemished ones right away.
16. Move vacationing houseplants into the shade for a few days before rinsing off insects and bringing indoors.
17. Dig up small rosemary plants and place indoors near a sunny window.
18. Clear out beds where mildew or black spot were noted, rake well and dispose of leaves and debris in the trash.
19. Harvest the last of the basil, and freeze or dry for use all winter.
20. Plant shrubs and water deeply. It's time to relocate existing ones, too.
21. Order spring bulbs for planting next month.
22. Dig up elephant ears, gladiolus corms and cannas, and store for winter.
23. It's the first day of fall. Make vegetable soup with the last of the summer crops.
24. As a rule, leave peonies be. But if you must divide or move them, now is the time.
25. Plant witch hazel, red-twig dogwood, deciduous holly and beautyberry for winter interest.
26. When their tops flop over, dig up onions, cure in the sun for three to five days, then store indoors in a cool, dry spot.
27. When night frosts are predicted, bring in the last of the tomatoes. Fry up sliced, green ones after dredging in beaten egg, seasoned flour and corn meal.
28. Start planting trees when leaves on neighborhood trees begin to change color.
29. Crickets coming into the house? Vacuum them up and discard the bag.
30. Wait until pumpkins are a rich orange color before harvesting. Leave several inches of stem attached to prevent premature rotting.