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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

September gardening chores

Flowering lily of the valley.

Flowering lily of the valley. Credit: Fotolia

Some view September as the beginning of the end of gardening season, but gardeners know there is no "end," just a change of focus. This month we're focusing on weeding and watering, two vital tasks to help trees and shrubs make it through winter and to cut down on cleanup work in spring. But that's only the beginning. Here are 30 chores to keep you busy every day of the month.

1. Reseed or renovate the lawn.

2. It's Labor Day -- grill some burgers and fertilize your established lawn (but not a newly planted one) with a slow-release product.

3. Sow lettuce, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, mustard greens, collards, kale, Asian greens, radishes, kohlrabi and spinach now for a fall harvest.

4. As a rule, leave peonies be. But if you must divide or move them, now is the time.

5. Take cuttings of coleus and begonias, and grow indoors until spring.

6. Plant ferns in shady garden beds and borders.

7. Divide lily of the valley, perennial phlox and other spring-blooming perennials.

8. If tomato plants are still producing blossoms, remove them so the plant can focus energy on ripening existing fruit.

9. Remove the lower leaves of tomato plants to allow more sunlight to reach fruit that needs to ripen before frost arrives.

10. Test your soil and add lime, if necessary, to correct the pH. It will work on the soil all winter long.

11. Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs now or they may not bloom next year.

12. Pull weeds now -- by their roots -- before they disperse seeds.

13. Order spring bulbs for planting next month.

14. Harvest grapes.

15. It's our Bloom Day! Upload photos of your garden at

16. Stop deadheading roses now and hips will form; you can make tea with them (if chemicals weren't used on plants) or leave them on the plant for a pretty accent.

17. Plant perennials now to allow time for them to become established before frost hits.

18. Bring in tender pond plants and keep them moist by a sunny window.

19. Rinse vacationing houseplants to remove insects, then bring indoors.

20. Plant witch hazel, red-twig dogwood, deciduous holly and beautyberry for winter interest.

21. When their tops flop over, dig up onions, cure in the sun three to five days, then store indoors in a cool, dry spot.

22. It's the first day of fall. Make vegetable soup with the last of the summer crops.

23. Pot up rosemary, chives and parsley from the garden, bring indoors and place near a sunny window.

24. Plant shrubs and water deeply. It's time to relocate existing ones, too.

25. Dig up gladiolus corms, elephant ears and cannas. Learn how to overwinter them at

26. Cut down basil and parsley, pick off leaves, rinse and dry in a single layer on paper towels overnight. Then freeze in zippered bags.

27. Don't let disease overwinter in the soil, where it will attack again next year. Rake well and discard fallen leaves and plant debris.

28. Wait until pumpkins are a rich orange color before harvesting. Leave several inches of stem attached to prevent premature rotting.

29. Crickets coming into the house? Just vacuum them up and discard the bag.

30. Start planting trees when leaves in the neighborhood begin to change color.

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