September in the Southern Garden
September begins the fall gardening season. The word September grew out of the latin "septem" -- meaning seven. It was the seventh month in the Roman calendar.
Since ancient times, this month is associated with the gathering of crops and agricultural fairs. This month, the moon is high above the horizon and furnishes light for field work late into the evening. This moon is often hailed in song as "harvest moon."
The September flower is the Aster -- a word meaning "star." Various species of this perennial are found in nearly every continent. Countless new varieties of color and habit have been developed by horticulturists. Growing from six inches to six feet tall, Asters have thin erect stems and their foliage is fuller at the plant's base. Some of their blooms have double rays of petals and there are a great variety of colors. Asters are very good for cutting and will last over a week.
There's much to do in the September garden. Vegetables to be planted: Green bean, Cucumber, Lettuce and even Summer Squash will be ready for harvest before the frosts of winter. Beet, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Collard and Turnip can be planted now and through the winter for extended harvest.
Herbs to plant now include: Dill, Garlic, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Sweet Marjoram and Thyme. Most of these take a long time from seed, so, you can get results sooner by starting from small plants. Check the Farmers Market or your favorite plant shop.
Before planting anything, it's a good idea to test the soil. Your County Agricultural Extension Service can do this and provide a fine selection of free literature covering most details of successful gardening.
Flowers to plant this month: Digitalis or Fox Glove, Pansy, Petunia, Shasta Daisy and Snapdragon.
This is a good time to divide clumps of Day Lilies that appear crowded. Divide ground cover plants such as Ajuga and Liriope (also called border-grass). The plants you leave will enjoy the growing room and the plants you remove can be started elsewhere or given to friends.
This is the last month to feed your trees and shrubs with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Fertilizer numbers, such as 6 - 6 - 6, refer to the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen stimulates new leaf growth and that might be damaged by frosty weather. Thus the reluctance to use nitrogen above number 4 after this month.
September is no longer the seventh month but it's a fine time to begin an adventure in the Florida plant kingdom. So, if you haven't started yet -- get growing and enjoy September to the fullest.
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