"September check list," from The Whistling Gardener

I just tore out my beans and zucchini and beets and now I have room for some cool season crops like peas, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, beets and garlic.
The Whistling Gardener shares his list of chores to consider for the month of September. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

This has been a summer to remember. Dahlias have been dazzling and zinnias have been zippy.

This has been one of the best gardening years I can remember but I have to say that I am ready for some rain because it feels like I have been at the end of a hose for months now with no relief in sight.

Hopefully September will bring us some cooler weather and a bit of precipitation but in the meantime here are some chores to consider:

LAWNS: there is no better month to plant a new lawn or resurrect an existing one. Aerate, dethatch, reseed or start all over but get it done this month.

While we do have a Lawn Care class on September 20th I would recommend you come into the nursery sooner to get a jump on the season.

I would suspect that with all the sun and drought there are some pretty sad looking lawns out there!

ROSES: we can usually squeeze one more round of blooms from our roses if we fertilize and prune this month (EB Stone Organic Rose and Flower Food is the best).

This is mildew season and I have found it is helpful to hose off roses first thing in the morning. Keep the ground around roses clean as well.

For extra protection apply a fungicide like Bonide Rose Drench to the soil around the base of the rose—no spraying required.

PERENNIALS: we have lots of late blooming perennials in stock and it’s a great time to plug up a few holes in the garden.

This is the ideal time to dig and divide large clumps of perennials like day lilies and irises. Share the extras with a neighbor.

Always add some fertilizer and compost when you are planting. Liquinox Start is also helpful during transplant time and it is cheap insurance!

BULBS: believe it or not, now is the perfect time to plant spring bloomers like tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths.

There are also many other fine specialty and minor perennial bulbs available, most of which will naturalize and never have to be dug again.

Buy them early while the selection is at its best and then don’t forget to plant them. I hate finding bags of shriveled bulbs in my basement in April!

VEGGIES: I just tore out my beans and zucchini and beets and now I have room for some cool season crops like peas, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, beets and garlic.

Be sure and replenish the soil with EB Stone compost and organic fertilizer.

Consider constructing a cloche (this is just a fancy word for a temporary greenhouse) to protect your veggies from a hard freeze. We also sell a frost fabric which will work too.

CONTAINERS: I seem to repeat myself every year but we’ve come a long way from just thinking of annuals when designing our pots and baskets.

In addition to winter pansies, dusty miller and flowering cabbage and kale, there is a huge pallet of plant material that is appropriate for late summer planting into containers.

Herbs, grasses, evergreen perennials and small conifers are all finding their way into beautiful winter containers.

Think of using foliage and texture rather than just flowers and don’t forget to stuff a few bulbs underneath the plants while you are at it.

Containers planted in September will look fabulous all the way into April or May which is actually longer than the containers we planted this last spring!

Enjoy the fall season and hope to see you in the nursery.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville. You can reach him online at


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