September is a month of transition. Many of our favorite summer vegetables – green beans, cucumbers, zucchini – will continue to produce well through this month if we keep the plants picked, but the sheer glut of August will begin to give way to broccoli, beets, cabbages and chard as we nudge closer to fall.
This is also transition time for the gardener, as we begin to end our active gardening year. This month is the last chance to sow most fall and winter crops – once October sets in, low light and cool soils will make it impossible to grow most crops to a harvestable size before year-end.
I say, embrace the transition and celebrate the one month a year when both cool and warm season crops are abundant.
Plan and Purchase
You’ve ordered your garlic, already, right? If you want to expand your fruit or perennial selection, you can order now and plan on late fall to get trees, bushes and vines in the ground.
Unless you’ve got a heated greenhouse, there’s no reason to start anything under lights now.
Sow and Transplant Outside
- Plan on one final sowing of greens this month. Fast growing Asian stuff like mizuna is a good bet, as are mustards, baby spinach, and beets, radishes, lettuces, turnips and kales for baby greens. Mache seems to take awhile but is super tasty in winter salads and doesn’t seem to stop growing due to cold.
- Radishes – sure, why not?
- Garlic – yup, by the end of the month, it’s time to plant garlic. If you don’t get to it, anytime before Halloween is fine, but the more time the cloves have to get situated and send down roots in the fall, the bigger they’ll be the next year. At least in theory. Now that white rot has crippled my ability to grow garlic I feel like I should invite someone else to speak to their culture.
- If you started brassicas or greens last month, get them in the ground. I have a few 6-packs of starts that need a home, but for the most part the big planting push of earlier in the year is over.
This month the sheer glut of August will begin to taper off, but continue regular (daily or nearly so) trips out to the garden to harvest. Many of our favorite summer vegetables – green beans, cucumbers, zucchini – will continue to produce through this month and longer if we keep the plants picked.
September is always a transition, and between mid and late month, expect summer fruiting vegetables to begin to give way to the greens and brassicas of fall. Expect broccoli, beets, brassicas and lettuce to step up as backbone crops.
- Beans – still going strong.
- Beets – The trick to beets is: loose soil, early thinning, forget you planted them.
- Carrots – pulled a few carrots from under the carrot mesh and they were pristine. No Carrot Maggot! Woohoo! The barrier method works.
- Corn – if you grow it, it’s coming ripe.
- Onions – last of the onions still need to be pulled and cured.
- Fennel – my fennel is ready!
- Potatoes – my second planting of potatoes, the spuds from the market, are growing amazingly well and are currently flowering. I may have potatoes yet this year. The potatoes from the burlap sack experiment have all been eaten or sent to municipal yard waste.
- Salad greens – a few lettuces have bolted on me, but mostly it’s been a great year for lettuce adn other salad greens.
- Tomatoes – lots of tomatoes coming on. Keep an eye out for spots, rots, molds etc. and yank any that show signs of ick before they can infect their neighbors.
- Turnips – yum! If you haven’t had a really fresh butter-braised turnip, or a spicy pickled turnip, do not judge this humble vegetable too harshly. It’s a winner.
- Winter Squash – I have watched with interest as my delicata plants have died down over the past week. At first I was concerned there was a fungal issue, but now I think they’re just done. That’s how it goes in September, sometimes. By the end of the month most winter squashes will be winding down.
- Zucchini – starting to taper off but still producing.
- Blueberries – late blueberries are still going but it’s slowing down fast. A few of my new bushes are showing red leaves and dieback. I think it’s drought/transplant stress and I’m pumping up the watering but it’s hard to tell with blueberries.
- Blackberries – the late season means blackberries are perfect right now. Don’t wait to go harvest from your favorite patch, though…with weather cool and moist like this, the berries get maggotty quickly.
- Apple – We’re enjoying not-quite-ripe apples. By the end of this month our homegrown apples will be inducing the happy produce dance.
- Grapes – there is a chance you will see ripe grapes this month. Mine look pretty unpromising but perhaps yours have gotten more sun.
- Pears – Asian pears are on; our espaliered Euro pears aren’t mature enough to fruit but those of you blessed with mature trees should be enjoying the first pear crop by now.
- Peaches – if you grow them they should be ready right about now. Have I mentioned how much I am loving my relationship with my new Yakima Valley fruit CSA? It turns out that Eastern Washington heat units = way better stone fruit. Check them out if you are in the Seattle area. And no, they don’t advertise with me or anything.
- Plums – yippee, my prune plums are starting to turn color! I think we may see a decent harvest this year.
- Figs – hoping for ripe figs in a few weeks.