University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
PICKING UP FRUITS AND OTHER
SEPTEMBER GARDENING TIPS
Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
Cleaning up fallen fruits, sowing
cover crops, and harvesting winter squash are some of the gardening
for this month.
To reduce problems with apple
maggots, codling moths and plum curculios next season, pick up and
apples. Gather dropped peaches to help control plum curculios and
brown rot on
those trees next summer.
Begin your garden cleanup by pulling
up bygone bean and pea plantings, and other vines and plants that
producing crops and may be dying back already.
Chop these plant parts into smaller pieces so they’ll compost
and easily. Then, layer any succulent
green material with “brown” material such as dried leaves or straw
compost pile. The composting process may
be speeded up by sprinkling a handful of nitrogen fertilizer every
As areas of the vegetable garden
become empty, sow cover crops. Annual rye grows quickly and can be
into the season. It usually dies over the winters in New England,
provides some protection from soil erosion. Winter wheat and rye
late as October will also grow until the ground freezes. It survives
and is tilled under in
Pick your winter squashes when they
have fully developed the color for their particular variety, when
the rind is
hard enough that you can't dent it with a fingernail, and when the
hard and begins to shrivel. Cut squashes from the vine, leaving 2
Keep leaves raked from lawns
so they don’t smother the grass. Spread
a thin topping of compost on the lawn after you rake up leaves, and
to settle the compost.
Leaf mold is made simply by piling
fallen leaves inside a circle of wire fencing. Because fall leaves
are low in
nitrogen, decomposition will take place slowly over a period of six
two years. Leaf mold is a great soil amendment, helping to increase
retention, improve soil structure and provide habitat for beneficial
Early fall is a prime time for
fertilizing the lawn. The grass is growing, but weeds aren’t, so
compete for the nutrients. To minimize pollution of waterways,
a soil test done first. If it shows that levels of phosphorus (P)
potassium (K) are adequate, choose a fertilizer that contains
nitrogen (N), and
little or no P or K. In some areas,
using phosphorus is illegal unless a soil test calls for it. If
you're using an organic fertilizer, it
needs warm soil for microbial activity to release the nutrients, so
apply it early
in the month.
September begins apple picking in
most areas, and is a great time to visit local orchards or farm
stands. Whether you pick your own or buy apples, if
storing, do so properly for longest life.
A cool, humid place such as a root cellar or cool area in a basement
ideal. Cover fruit with a moist burlap
cloth to keep up the humidity and prevent shrinkage. Don’t store
apples with other fruits or
vegetables because apples give off ethylene gas—a ripening agent
other fruits to spoil.
Other activities for this month
include replacing those spent annual flowers with fall mums or
and sowing late crops of Swiss chard, spinach, or lettuce.
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).