September brings cooler temperatures, maturing flowers, and beautiful leaf color change on trees. Fall also brings the opportunity to save seeds from leftover garden vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, and peppers.
There are many reasons to save your own seeds. Save money by avoiding expensive seed packs. Select for quality in the foods you eat and in the beauty of your annuals and perennials. Maintain populations of heirloom, open-pollinated varieties.
Do not save hybrid seed as it will not breed true. Respect the patent rights of researchers who have developed new plants.
Keep records of what works in your yard and save those seeds for next year. Store your saved seed in an air-tight bag in the bottom of your refrigerator where it won’t freeze.
Photo by John Deir, PRI. Used with permission.
The Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship holds workshops in seed harvesting.
Use Compost and Mulch to Protect and Enrich the Soil
Your yard waste is a gold mine of opportunity for your garden. By composting yard waste, you are putting nutrients back into your soil and closing the recycling loop in your own backyard. Composting is a naturally occurring process that can be speeded up by maintaining a moist pile and turning your compost regularly. A ratio of 30 parts carbon plant materials (dry and brown) to 1 part nitrogen materials (green) is ideal for the compost pile, but most organic matter works for microbial breakdown of the plant material.
If you are slow composting over 2-3 years, do not add diseased plants, seed heads and rhizomes (runners) of weeds to your compost pile. Keep large woody branches out of the pile, unless you can chip them to a smaller size.
Worms (red wigglers) can be used to build a worm bin for food waste. You can feed the worms just about any kind of food waste excluding meat and fatty products like oils and lards. Building a worm bin is a great activity to do with children. They love the wigglers. The daily chore of burying food waste in the bin makes a great early science experiment.
Photo used with permission.
Compost bins at Educational Gardens at Greenbank Farm are used to turn decomposing material from one bin to another, until it is ready to use in the garden.
Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs
September and October are great months to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Your local nursery will be stocking many varieties. Choose a place in your garden that has well-draining soil because bulbs will rot in water-logged soil.
Plant them with some finished compost mixed into the soil and wait for spring blooms. If you have a rodent problem, you might plant them in protective cages made from chicken wire to prevent their being gnawed on but allow the shoots to grow through.
Tulips, Daffodils and Crocus https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2073/2014/03/102811.pdf
Replace Tired Annuals with Fall Plants
Bring some fall color to your garden. Chrysanthemums, ornamental grasses, pansies, and violas will provide fall color.
Fall is also a good time to plant garlic, peas, carrots, and cabbage.
Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardens for Western Washington | Snohomish County | Washington State University (wsu.edu)
Continue Watering Container Plants
The rains are coming but your container plants are still dependent on just the right amount of water to continue thriving into the fall.
Container Gardening – Tip Sheet #6 | King County | Washington State University (wsu.edu)
Photo used with permission.
Container plants add beauty to our outdoor living spaces.