Regional To-Do List: Chores For September In The Southwest


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Even in regions with warm winters, there are September gardening tasks to get you ready for the next full growing season. The Southwest region comprises Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, although some extend the designation to include Nevada. Either way, these areas are hot and dry, but cool down a bit in fall and winter. A regional to-do list can get gardeners in this range ready to complete fall chores.

Southwest Gardening in September

September in the Southwest is a beautiful time of year. Temperatures during the day are no longer in the triple digits and the evenings are delightful and cooler. Most gardens are still in full swing and it is a good time to plant cole crops such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale.

Harvesting on many vegetables is in full swing and crops like persimmons and citrus are beginning to ripen. It is also time to do some maintenance so plants will not suffer in the freezing temperatures that are coming.

Since cold temps are around the corner, it is a good time to mulch around sensitive plants. The mulch will protect roots from freezing conditions. Keep mulch a few inches (8 cm.) away from stems to avoid mildew and rot issues.

You may also prune summer blooming shrubs that are cold hardy, but don’t prune tender plants yet. Light pruning of trees is also allowed but avoid hard pruning until February. Roses should be lightly pruned and fertilized.

Due to the milder temperatures, it is also a good time to install many plants. There are many chores to do with your perennials as well. Cut them back by one third and divide any that have died out in the center.

Regional To-Do List

  • Plant cool season crops
  • Harvest onions and garlic once tops have died back. Dry for three weeks and store in a cool, dry location.
  • Harvest potatoes once the greens are dead.
  • Harvest pears as soon as they easily twist off the tree.
  • Aerate sod as needed and apply an early month slow release food.
  • Fertilize citrus trees.
  • Fertilize herbs and vegetables.
  • Remove spent blooming annuals and save seeds for next year.
  • Cut back and divide perennials.
  • Lightly prune most winter tolerant trees and shrubs but not fruit trees.
  • Pull root vegetables such as carrots.
  • Divide ornamental grasses and spring and early summer blooming perennials.
  • Cover tomatoes and other tender plants with frost blankets at night.
  • Start moving indoor plants that were out to enjoy the summer.

Tips on Southwest Gardening

September in the Southwest is a great time to think about the future. You can start amending soil with compost or manure, which will break down over the winter and leave your soil juicy and rich.

You should check your turf, shrubs, and trees for insect damage. Before leaf drop, use recommended sprays to control insects such as raspberry crown borer, boxelder bugs, and rust mites.

It is also important to keep up watering, but adjust the schedule as the weather cools. Reset the irrigation system to reflect the cooler, shorter days.

Since the weather is milder, September gardening tasks are less of a chore and more of a delight.

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Gardening in the month of December

Christmas in
Hummingbird House

If you have been keeping up with your gardening tasks for the last few months, you should be able to take it pretty easy this month (at least in the garden.)
There are a few things to keep an eye on, and a few optional things you can do in the garden. Your biggest concern will probably be tending to your house plants.

This year, consider purchasing a living Christmas tree for your home.
They really aren't that much more expensive than a cut tree. This is an excellent way to improve your landscape, and at the same time, save a tree. Before bringing a living tree into the house, water it thoroughly.
Living Christmas trees should not be kept in the house for any longer than 10 days.


Gardening Tasks and Projects for December

What to do in the garden in December.
The month of December has most people scurrying about with a long list of "things to do". Probably the last thing on anyone's mind is working in the garden. Fortunately, the list of gardening "to-do's" for this month is more like a list of "do-not-do's".

If you have been keeping up with your gardening tasks for the last few months, you should be able to take it pretty easy this month (at least in the garden). There are a few things to keep an eye on, and a few optional things you can do in the garden. Your biggest concern will probably be tending to your house plants.

This year, consider purchasing a living Christmas tree for your home.
They really aren't that much more expensive than a cut tree. This is an excellent way to improve your landscape, and at the same time, save a tree. Before bringing a living tree into the house, water it thoroughly.
Living Christmas trees should not be kept in the house for any longer than 10 days.


Annuals, Perennials, and Bulbs
If you potted up some bulbs, such as hyacinths, daffodils or tulips, last September for winter forcing, keep an eye on them. Make sure they remain moist, and in the dark until they have established their root systems.
It is possible that they have already filled their containers with roots and that the new top growth has begun. If this is so, bring them into the house and set them in a cool room, in indirect light.
After a week or so, move them into bright light, and watch them go to town!

Check on any corms and tubers which you dug up, and stored this fall. Remove and discard any which show signs of disease or rot.


Shrubs and Trees
Winter rains tend to make you forget about watering your garden. However, plants and shrubs which are growing beneath large evergreens or under the eaves of the house, may be bone dry by this time. Lack of water in the cold winter months can be fatal to many of these plants. A quick check will let you know if you need to do a little winter watering.

If there is a sudden drop in the temperature, provide extra protection for your more tender flowering plants like Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas and Daphne. You can provide temporary, emergency protection by driving in three of four stakes around the plant, and then simply covering the plant with some type of cloth, like burlap, a sheet or an old blanket. Don't let this material come into direct contact with the leaves of the plant. Remove the cover completely, as soon as the weather moderates.

December is a good month to take cuttings of rhododendrons, azaleas, and other evergreen shrubs. The cutting should be taken from new tip growth, and kept in bright light, at about 70°F.


Lawn Care
Stay off frozen grass.


House Plant Care
Glossy leaved house plants such as Philodendrons, Rubber plants, and Palms should be sponged off periodically, to allow them to breathe.

Plants which have fuzzy, textured, or other non-glossy type leaves should be set in the sink and sprayed gently with room temperature water, until the dust is cleaned away. Be sure that the foliage is allowed to dry completely.

Provide your house plants with extra humidity by grouping plants together, or by setting the pots on leak proof trays filled with moistened pebbles.

If you successfully kept last years plants alive, and have been keeping it in 14 hours of darkness since September, your Poinsettias and Christmas cactus should be ready bring back into the living room by December first.

With the proper care, these Christmas plants will remain beautiful for many weeks.
-- They prefer to be kept on the cool side, 65-70 degrees during the day and 55-60 at night.
-- Keep them in bright, natural light whenever possible.
-- Keep them away from heat sources.
-- Keep them out of drafts.
-- Be sure to water them when they become dry.
-- Never allow them to stand in water for more than an hour.


Odds and Ends
Take care of our feathered friends! Keep your bird feeder filled, especially when there is snow on the ground.

Don't let your hose freeze and burst. Stretch it out with both ends open, to allow the water to drain completely. Coil it up and put it away.

Make sure your outdoor faucets are covered to protect them from freezing.


How to Use a Monthly Gardening Calendar

When using a monthly garden calendar there is built in flexibility dealing with what nature has in store for the year. Tying a task to a single date, as any gardener knows, is impossible… what if the ground is still too cold? What if it is still too wet? So too, if you know the task is coming up and the weather is favorable or the ground is right the week or two before you ‘plan’ to work on it, you can review the month’s list and make your decision based on your specific circumstances. I have tried to group things according to the month based on my monthly gardening zone, this way, based on YOUR zone, you can move forward or back, accordingly.

And please, PLEASE! don’t let all the talk of chores, tasks, calendars, or deadlines dissuade you from gardening or intimidate you. The purpose is to HELP you… to make getting things done just a bit more organized and LESS difficult to keep done. If it is in your character to take things TOO seriously, relax! Gardening should be fun (mostly!) and your garden reflects you… it is a good way to be yourself.

In the spirit of gardening fellowship I share this never completely completed calendar of gardening tasks with you. Some things may have no bearing on your garden, your calendar, your life. You may not find some of the things that need to be done listed here. In that case, I welcome you to share them with us via the homestead blog or by email.


Utilizing a Garden Calendar

Use of a calendar in gardening can be a very helpful tool for planning and keeping up with all of the tasks that need completed in the spring. Having a day by day list to follow with all of the gardening tasks that need to be done will also ensure that you don’t forget about an important step in gardening. A garden calendar is the best way to plan ahead and set a schedule for gardening ahead of time. It’s also a great way to keep track of tasks that need repeated in your garden, like fertilizing, watering, or swapping plants out of the sun and shade. Following a calendar will ensure that you provide your plants with the correct amounts of water, sunlight, and lead to better quality plants of any kind.

If you don’t already use a calendar simply because you’ve never seen a use for it, a garden calendar is a great way to understand the importance of proper planning. A calendar can benefit anyone who isn’t very organized and help you become less forgetful about events, important tasks, and are great for any hobbies that require special timing and planning, such as gardening. They are a great tool to use to give yourself deadlines for important tasks, rather than just estimating when you will get something done. And thankfully, with the advent of smartphones and computer calendars, setting up reminders for gardening is easier than ever and can be done right from this website with just a few clicks. Here’s how easy it is…

1.) On our Gardening Calendar page, navigate to the month you’d like to export to your calendar. On the bottom right of the calendar page, click “Export Events” to export the entire month’s events. If you’d like to export a single calendar event, you can do so by clicking the “iCal export” button on any event such as this page.

2.) When prompted, open the file you just downloaded and it will open in your default calendar program or phone application.

3.) Save the calendar events you opened, and now it’s in your calendar. It’s that simple.

Our gardening calendar is full of plenty of tasks that all gardeners should complete to ensure the best crop growth in the mid-Atlantic area. There are plenty of ways to customize and fine-tune our garden calendar based on your own gardening habits, like putting the best planting dates for all plants you want to plant this spring. Sadly, there isn’t enough space for us to include every single vegetable and herb’s planting dates, otherwise we would. So, it’s up to you to do your own research on whichever plants you wish to cultivate this year and include it on your own gardening calendar. Proper use and strict adherence of a gardening calendar will lead you to become a much better gardener, as well as improve your time-management skills for the long-term. Plus, we’ll be including plenty of coupons within our calendar, providing you with great deals on all sorts of gardening wares year round. Check our calendar every week or so for new deals that will be popping up this spring!

We hope some of you may find this garden calendar useful in your gardening endeavors. There are so many of ways to utilize a garden calendar since a large part of gardening is just following feeding and watering schedules for plants so we really hope this gardening calendar will help you be able to consistently care for your garden this spring! It can be easy to forget about an important garden task, and sometimes by the time you remember to do the task, it can be too late in the season to fix the problem. This is why a garden calendar is very helpful and should be used especially if you find the amount of tasks in the garden overwhelming, and find yourself forgetting to do just one important thing year after year.

Be sure to check back often for our dollar saving coupons…


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