gardening tips


September, 2006

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 mulching!

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 soil.

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 50F. 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 85F and 90% relative humidity for 10 days. Then store at 60F.

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 September. 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



April, 2007
Early Spring, 2007
Winter, 2006-2007

January, 2006
February, 2006
March, 2006
April, 2006
May, 2006
June, 2006
July, 2006
August, 2006
September, 2006
October, 2006


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