September Sustainable Garden Checklist
While half of me is celebrating the fact that I no longer worry about making sure my garden is getting enough water, I am finding it hard to keep motivated about the transition from a summer garden to a winter garden.
Last night I wrapped myself up in an extra layer and stuck my flip flops (not giving up on those bad boys just yet!) between my sock-covered toes, and headed out to the raised veggie beds with my harvest basket.
Rummaging through the green been jungle in one raised bed, I collected as many beans as possible before they grow too large, stringy and tough, pulled out one of my broccoli plants I allowed to flower for the bees and butterflies that started to accumulate its own metropolitan community of aphids and cut some beautiful autumn-coloured marigolds and calendula flowers to add to our kitchen table, but still there is a ton to do!
September Garden Checklist:
1. Greens are cool-weather lovers, and our family love us some salads all year-round, so while I took a break sowing lettuce and salad greens during the scorching heat of July and August, I am back on the sowing-train with arugula and red lettuces planted between the spaces of my tomatoes and the gaps from the carrots and beets.
2. Build row cover hoop frames for my raised garden beds from flexible bamboo poles, 4 stakes for the each corner and some clear plastic tarp - this can effectively increase the temperature under the tarp by potentially a few degrees, with two layers of row covering could add another 5 degrees to the bed.
3. Pests. Grrrr. I will do a full post about all the pests I have to deal with, as I don't believe in chemical pesticides, but needless to say, get rid of all diseased and pest-covered vegetation as soon as you see them, and if you do not run a hot compost pile, toss them in with your clippings pick up.
4. My roses bloomed, and then abruptly dropped due to the rains, but I have been diligent with keeping the flower heads picked, to keep the roses budding and blooming.
5. As we started with a barren old quarry as our backyard when we purchase the property, we are starting from scratch. I am eyeing up the fall-ordering catalogues for tree and shrubs as this is the perfect time to plant these big items so they have time to concentrate of promoting root growth before winter, and give them a big head start next spring.
6. I love spring bulbs, and get excited as soon as I see the local nursery advertise they have new bulbs in stock. I've kept the colours in the front yard bold purple, whites and yellows, but have decided to plant subdued pastels in the back yard - these will need to be planted in the following weeks. Nothing screams LIFE HAS RETURNED in the spring better than flowering bulbs.
7. While I am adding compost to my garden beds as mulch, I am no longer feeding the beds; except for around the base of my still-ripening tomatoes and green beans with the remaining stinky comfrey tea I've been brewing for months. Don't want my plants to get too excited before winter.
8. My herbs are exploding but I am a such a sucker for bringing pollinators into my yards, and keeping them there, that I let most of them flower instead of trimming and drying the herbs all season. The buzzing and fluttering makes me smile but next year, I might have to focus more on harvesting herbs for drying and freezing! Come winter, my soups and stews, and family, will thank me.
9. I have a huge clump of bearded irises that I know need splitting and replanting - September is the perfect time to do it, so I just need to do it. Yep. On the list.
10. With the heavy rains come weeds' last big boost before the winter - keep on pulling and composting those naughty monkeys before they overtake the rest of your garden.
11. Cut off the foliage from the potatoes at ground level a few weeks before lifting them to firm their skins and prevent blight spores infecting the tubers as you lift them in October.
12. Pot up mint and parsley to keep on the kitchen window sill to continue herb harvesting throughout the dormant season.
13. Cut back fruited canes of raspberries, leaving the new green canes for next year's crop.