by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County
Like it or not, we are gradually saying goodbye to summer and moving into fall. The daylight hours are already getting noticeably shorter. Many people welcome fall in Missouri because it means cooler temperatures and a chance to do many gardening activities before winter arrives.
Here’s a list of fun and useful gardening activities for September:
Peonies- Never tried peonies? Do you admire their brilliant spring color and wonderful scent in other people’s yards? September is a good time to transplant them and introduce them to your garden. They come in a range of colors: white, pink, and red, and last for decades in a well-drained, sunny spot in your garden. Somewhat shallow planting is required since flowering is reduced or inhibited if the growing points of the crown are set more than 2 inches deep.
Peonies can often remain undisturbed in the garden for 20 or more years without a decline in flowering. Divide them only if growth is poor and plants fail to bloom after years of performing well.
Want more information on more ornamental perennials? Here’s a link to a MU Extension publication Flowering Perennials: Characteristics and Culture: https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6650
Planting cool season vegetables- Yes, you still have time to plant those quick maturing cool season crops that mature in 25- 55 days. Arugula, leaf lettuce, bibb lettuce, radishes, turnip, sugar snap peas, and mustard greens are some of the cool season crops you can plant now in sunny garden and harvest by mid to late October and sometimes on into November depending on the weather.
Choose a sunny area in your vegetable garden. Remove old crop residue. Cultivate the soil and plant seeds of cool season crops. Protect your crops from sudden cold snaps by using floating row cover. It is a spun polyester fabric that lets light and rain in, yet creates a microclimate next to the plants that can be 2 to 3 degrees warmer than temperatures outside the fabric. It is fairly inexpensive and lasts for a couple gardening seasons if stored after use.
Lawn care- September is the prime time to renovate your cool season grass lawn. The cooler temperatures benefit the cool season grass seed as it germinates and weed competition is not as challenging as it is in the spring. Cool season turf grasses include fescue and Kentucky blue grass. For more information on cool season turf grasses and how to manage them, check out the following publications:
Cool Season Grasses: Lawn Establishment and Renovation- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6700
Cool Season Grasses: Lawn Maintenance Calendar- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6705
Natural Lawn Care- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6749
Planting Trees- Planting trees in the fall gives them time to get established when the temperatures have moderated in September and October. Roots continue growing underground even when the above ground temperatures drop to near freezing.
“Right Tree in the Right Place” is a saying to remember before purchasing and planting trees. Do some research on tree species you are interested in and then study the conditions in your yard. Remember to keep in mind over head wires, underground wiring, and other utilities before digging.
Call Dig Rite (1 800 Dig Rite or 811) before digging to have utilities marked, especially if you are planting trees and shrubs in new areas near your home. Here’s a link to a publication on planting trees- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6850
Need more gardening information? Here are several options:
Plan to attend the free, online Horticulture Town Hall on Wednesday mornings. Register for our Horticulture Town Hall at https://ipm.missouri.edu/townHalls/
Enjoy all the MU Extension educational horticulture videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/MUIPM
And feel free to contact our MU Extension office at 816-482-5850 for more horticulture information.