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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

Garden Detective: September chores

Vegetable, Fruit, Basket, Autumn, Food, Healthy Eating, Apple,

Vegetable, Fruit, Basket, Autumn, Food, Healthy Eating, Apple, Pepper, Grape, Color Image, Descriptive Color, Pear lsdamiano28, LI Life Photo Credit: iStock/

It's time for harvesting and canning, clearing and sowing. Although the season seems to be winding down, September can be the busiest month in the garden. 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.

1. Test your soil and add lime, if necessary, to correct the pH.

2. Reseed the lawn. You'll have the most success with a complete lawn overhaul started now, too.

3. Keep pulling weeds, before they go to seed.

4. Inspect evergreens, especially dwarf alberta spruce, for spider mites. If found, knock them off trees with a strong blast of the hose. Repeat weekly.

5. It's Labor Day, time to fertilize the lawn one last time for the year (but not a newly planted one). Use a slow-release product.

6. If you want free begonias and coleus next year, take cuttings now and grow them indoors until spring.

7. Start planting perennials now so they can become established before frost hits.

8. If tomato plants are still producing blossoms, remove them so the plant can concentrate energy on ripening green fruit before frost.

9. Sow lettuce and spinach seeds now for a fall harvest.

10. Can tomatoes, but only those that are pristine; eat the blemished ones right away.

11. Move vacationing houseplants into the shade for a few days before rinsing off insects and bringing indoors.

12. Stop deadheading roses if you want hips to form; they're great for tea and jam (but only if chemically untreated).

13. Bring in tender pond plants and place by a sunny window until spring. Keep moist.

14. Harvest grapes.

15. Dig up tender perennial herbs like rosemary, chives and even biennial parsley, and place indoors near a sunny window.

16. Start relocating and planting shrubs.

17. Clear out beds where mildew or black spot were noted, rake well and discard all leaves and debris in the trash.

18. Harvest the last of the basil, parsley and mint, and freeze or dry for use all winter.

19. Order spring-blooming bulbs for planting next month.

20. Dig up elephant ears, gladiolus corms and cannas, and store for winter. Get instructions at

21. Divide overgrown perennials like phlox, coneflowers, Dutch iris, black-eyed susans and daylilies.

22. When night frosts are predicted, bring in the last of the tomatoes.

23. Celebrate the start of autumn by making vegetable soup with the last of summer's bounty.

24. When pumpkins turn a rich orange, it's time to harvest. Cutting with several inches of stem attached will keep them fresher longer.

25. When outdoor insects like crickets seek warmth inside, vacuum them up and discard the bag. Resort to chemicals only for real infestations.

26. When their tops flop over, harvest onions, then cure in the sun for 3-5 days before using.

27. Stop fertilizing houseplants and water less often until spring.

28. Start planting trees when leaves in the neighborhood start changing color.

29. Happy Rosh Hashana! Enjoy homegrown apples dipped in local honey.

30. Clear out spent annuals, but let snapdragons, geraniums and Wave petunias keep blooming through fall.


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