September is the month when gardening begins to wind down. Gardeners
in the far North are finishing up their harvest and beginning to
prepare for winter. Gardeners in the South are beginning to think
about what winter crops they might like to plant. This is a great
time to begin cleaning up yard and garden sites – pulling
up spent annuals and garden plants, dividing overgrown perennials,
watering trees and shrubs less so they will begin to harden off
for winter. Take this opportunity to compost any garden and lawn
debris – in six or eight weeks, you’ll want it for
September can also be a great time for planting. Flowers that
provide fall color, such as chrysanthemums, flowering kale and
winter pansies, should be planted now. Mixing some Bradfield Organics®
fertilizer (Tomato is a good choice) with the dirt in the planting
hole or bed will get them off to a fast start. The same goes for
planting bulbs for spring-blooming flowers (never put non-organic
forms of fertilizer directly in contact with bulbs – the
salts will kill the roots). Roses should be fertilized for the
last time in late September. This month is one of the best times
of the year for seeding or sodding new lawns. The slow-release,
soil-building characteristics of Bradfield Lawn & Garden 3-1-5
make it a perfect fall fertilizer for new lawns, helping them to
establish a root system before winter dormancy sets in. This will
allow the new lawn to get off to a healthy start next spring. This
is also a great time to feed established lawns with Bradfield Organic
fertilizer so they will go into dormancy in good shape and enter
spring with enough vigor to have you out on that lawn mower before
all your neighbors!
In many areas, water availability was a huge issue this year.
Many trees and shrubs will already be going dormant. Given the
cost of water and this year’s tight resources, it is best
to begin reducing watering and let your plants proceed toward winter
dormancy. It takes 62 gallons of water to provide one inch of water
to a 100-square-foot area (that is just 10 feet x 10 feet). Many
small trees would have a canopy that large, and as you should water
trees out to the drip line (to the edge of their canopy) to accommodate
their spreading root system, even a small tree can drink a significant
amount of water. Using an organic mulch under a tree will help
to reduce moisture loss and improve soil quality (and therefore
nutrition for the tree) with time.
Question: The azaleas on the south side of my
house have gray leaves; the ones on the north side are okay. Can
you tell me what is wrong?
Answer: The plants on the south side are stressed
from too much sun and heat. Transplant them to the north side or
in a shady place this fall and they will be fine. Be sure to prepare
the soil to have good drainage even though they like moisture.
Addition of Bradfield Organic to the site will help to build organic
matter and retain moisture.
Question: What can I do in the fall and winter
to prepare for a spring garden?
Answer: To prepare your soil for spring planting,
first you must know what it lacks. This is done by a soil test.
Some County Extension Service provide soil testing at no charge.
When you receive the results you should call us for organic soil
advice to determine what supply of plant food elements are needed.
You may want to plant a cover crop this fall to build organic matter
in your soil.
Question: What is a cover crop?
Answer: A cover crop is any crop grown for the
specific purpose of improving the soil. Legumes such as clover,
alfalfa, field peas, and vetch are widely used as well as rye,
wheat, oats, barley, mustard and millet. These crops are cut and
tilled into the ground before they go to seed. The green material
decays quickly, adding organic matter as well as nutrients to the
Question: When can I plant turnips?
Answer: Fall turnips can be planted from August
15th to October 1st depending on the zone you live in.
Question: When should I harvest my sweet potatoes?
Answer: Sweet potatoes are usually ready to harvest
about 120 days after planting. Dig carefully around the plants
to check the size of the tubers. Sweet potatoes are tropical and
can be damaged by temperatures below 50¾F. It is important to harvest
them before the first frost. If the vines are killed by frost,
dig the potatoes mid-day after the temperatures have warmed. To
store sweet potatoes, brush off all soil and discard infected or
damaged roots. Cure at 85¾F and 90% relative humidity for 10 days.
Then store at 60¾F.
Question: Should strawberries be fertilized now?
Answer: An application of Bradfield Organics®
3-1-5 on established beds is recommended for late August or through
A second broadcast of 9-0-0 corn gluten should be applied in February
which can also act as a pre-emergence to limit weeds. A soil test
is also recommended to determine other needed nutrients. Call us
for organic soil advice.
For more information on organic fertilizing techniques, visit www.safelawns.org.
Early Spring, 2007