September Gardening

What's on your to-do list?

What are you doing in September for your garden? Right now we've got mums and morning glories blooming all over the place, and our strawberries are DONE. Most of my spring babies are dead and I've been doing something silly--sticking in random Halloween fake flowers here and there just for some spooky color (and eyeballs). What can I say, I can never not get excited when September gets here.

There's so much that can be done this month! Our local Extension Office has some great ideas, from dividing spring perennials to planting pansies for fall and winter bloom. I've never done that and am thinking about it but we usually do general maintenance more than anything since we get so busy in the fall. It's probably our busiest time of year. That said, I'm still thinking about cold weather crops, especially since we had some old window panes given to us that would work really well for some cold frames...

How are you preparing for the fall and winter? What's going on in your garden? Share your September garden with us in the chat!

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Getting the Most out of Fall Planting

Share your tips in the chat!

If you plant during the fall, you know two things: you're getting use out of the cooler temps for some great plants, from veggies to mums, but you're also taking the risk of them dying from an early fost. Luckily we can usually predict when these frosts will occur, but we do have to take precautions to get the most out of our fall planting in the meantime.

Seasoned growers know this means taking care to protect plants from frost. I have a small zip-up greenhouse I put some of my plants in during the frost. This is especially helpful if I get a little too eager in the springtime and plant some baskets before the final frost, as I am wont to do. But covering up plants to protect them is also great. Some people have good luck with plastic alone but a fabric blend made to protect plants works really well.

How do you protect your fall plants from a frost? Share your tips in the chat. 

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Watering Your Garden Helps Critters

It's the best way to help them maintain a food source in the heat

Did you know that watering your garden in the hot months doesn't just help your crops and flowers out, but it also helps sustain your local wild animals? It's a little embarrassing to admit that it never occurred to me before, but when you water your plants, you're actually helping to maintain the ecosystem by keeping the soil damp enough for creatures like insects and worms to keep making their paths through the soil, too.

This is crucial for local wildlife. Everything from frogs and birds to hedgehogs and toads feast on worms and insects, so when they can't access them through loose soil, they experience food insecurity. That's dangerous for them, as is water scarcity, so providing both of these resources can help keep neighborhoods full of natural wildlife.

What else do you do to help frogs in the hot months? Share your tips in the chat!

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Self-Watering Planters

share your favorites!

Self-watering planters are so wonderful because they deliver the perfect amount of water without making you stress over it each week. When I shop for plants I sometimes say, "Who wants to come die at my house?" It's morbid but true--sometimes I kill my houseplants!

That said, there are lots of houseplants that actually come with self-watering features, which is so helpful. I have a bonzai tree with one that's helped protect it from... well, me! I've also learned to put plants like Venus flytraps in shallow containers of water to help keep them moist. Mine is doing so well with this small trick. Then I saw this Osmoponic watering system that can water all kinds of plants for a month at a time. I'm very curious about it. There are also simple watering stakes people get for their plants. Some are really pretty glass bulbs but you can even make them with water bottles.

What is your favorite self-watering sysem? Share it in the chat! 

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It's Almost Garlic Season

What else are you planting?

It's getting closer to garlic season, gardeners! It's almost time to plant those cloves to harvest a bunch of beautiful garlic in the summer. Planting in October might be your best bet although some people may plant a bit earlier or later. They can begin growing in fall but it's good to plant in fall with plenty of sunshine and mulch for winter protection (if it gets cold in your area).

Be sure to plant your cloves root-side down (that's the flat side of the bulb they are pulled out of) and use well-draining, rich soil. Where I live we have lots of clay so if that's the case be sure to get some good soil to plant in. You can also plant a bunch of salad greens in the fall to enjoy, as well as broccoli, radishes and other fast-growing fall crops.

What are you planning to plant this October? Share it in the chat.

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Old Farmer's Webinars

Learn more about growing!

The Old Farmer's Almanac remains a fantastic resource after centuries of use, and today it's online so you can even get emails featuring tips each week. Who could have predicted that one day the Old Farmer's Almanac would host webinars to help farmers learn more about their craft back in the 1800s? It's pretty amazing that it's stood the test of time this long and it reminds us how no matter what, we'll always need farming and food.

There's a webinar about the upcoming Perseids Meteor Shower, which will detail how to best watch the meteors, other astronomical events happening this fall and other tips. I remember watching the Perseids last year and really enjoyed it. There might not be magic in the world as it's defined in fantasy books but there is definitely magic in watching things grow and the universe operate.

What other great resources do you use for gardening, stargazing and other outdoor hobbies? Share them in the chat.

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The Tools in Your Arsenal

Which ones do you use?

So many gardeners swear by their favorite tools when it comes to their gardening repertoire, and for the longest time it seemed a little like overkill to me. If you had your basics, you were fine, right? My hand trowel is my favorite tool, but I also have a large shovel and a rake, and that's pretty much all I need.

That said, after using a hand cultivator and a gardening fork recently, I can see the appeal. Both tools have made it significantly easier to work, especially in the thick, clay areas where it's already difficult to move the dirt around. Both have helped turn the soil so much better than my tools and now I want my own. 

What tools do you swear by? Which ones do you need to really get into your garden? Share them in the chat. 

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Planting in August

Yes, a second gardening season is possible

Plenty of us have bad or even nonexistent growing years. I know I have years where I'm just too busy to plant and I end up doing the bare minimum--a few easy veggies like tomatoes and peppers, maybe some cucumbers. Even if you're having one of those years (like me!) there's still plenty of time to get in on some fast-growing crops if you plant by August!

Most of these depend on what zone you live in, of course, but most zones can still support beans and cucumbers this late in the year. Kale, lettuce, peas, radishes and spinach can all still grow, too, which means you can still harvest lots of great salads before the end of the year. It's a good time to plant fall flowers (I planted seeds early and I have a bunch of marigolds after they were just leaves most of the summer!) and you can even plant a cover crop to help your soil next year. I'm totally unfamiliar with cover crops but they definitely look interesting. 

What can you grow this time of year where you live? Share what you're planting in the chat. 

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Growing Bay Leaves

AKA A Laurel Tree!

It's a well-known fact among herb growers, but I was today years old when I learned that bay leaves actually come from the laurel tree! It makes total sense when you look at them but I never put the pieces together. I'm thrilled that you can not only grow them, but that they can get so big. I use bay leaves almost daily and would love to have a steady source just outside the house!

Unfortunately the zone I live in isn't hardy enough for the tree to be kept outside year-round, but it's also possible to grow them in pots and keep them smaller. People have three and four foot laurel trees, so maybe I could manage something like that indoors. I just don't know how I'd keep it away from the pets, and I did read that it can cause some problems if pets ingest it.

Do you grow laurel trees? Do you have any tips for growing them indoors or in pots? How do you harvest your bay leaves? Share your tricks in the chat!

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The Best Gardening Aprons

What do you like to wear?

Aprons aren't my thing, especially while gardening. I had to wear them in multiple jobs and never enjoyed them so I tend to just let myself get dirty when I garden! Sometimes I'll use a tote (my dad is a carpenter and he taught me the trick of putting a toolbelt around a five-gallon bucket and using it for my tools) but honestly it's usually just my trowel and me. If I'm lugging around a lot, I might even stick it in the flat I bought plants in, an empty soil bag... you name it. I'm even known to use my shirt front as a sling to carry eggs in!

But there's so much value in an apron and I've been considering getting one, especially as I get older and don't want to ruin my shirts. If you want an apron for gathering, this one looks great. I am sure I could get eggs in it. If you're looking for one to hold tools, I love the look of this one. I've had most luck with simple aprons, though, so who knows?

What is the best apron on the market? Share your favorites in the chat. 

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