Watch for Caterpillars on New Veggies
Tender cole crops and leafy greens are prime targets for hungry caterpillars. A 2-inch strip of newspaper wrapped around the stem of transplants at planting will deter cutworms. A spray of Bt will work well if applied when caterpillars are still young. Check plants daily for signs of problems, as fall is caterpillar season.
Divide Spring and Summer Perennials
September is a good time to divide spring- and summer-blooming perennials, including amaryllis, calla, canna, daylily, iris, and liriope. It is also a good time to divide hardy ferns. Work a few inches of compost into the soil and reset these plants for renewed growth. Don't allow them to dry out in the process.
Keep Satsuma oranges, kumquats, and various other citrus plants healthy by fertilizing with a light dose of soluble liquid plant food on a frequent basis. Many types are ripening their fruit now and need a little extra nutrition. Just don't overdo it or fruit quality and winter hardiness will be decreased.
Have Your Soil Tested
Now is a good time to have your soil tested. Soil labs tend to be a little less busy this time of year. Also, some amendments, such as sulfur or lime, may take months or longer to have their full effect. By testing now and making the appropriate additions, you can have a garden bed ready for spring planting. Your county extension office can assist you with where and how to have your soil tested.
Control Fire Ants
Fire ants can really spoil your fun when they infest compost piles, lawns, and gardens. Early fall is an excellent time to control them, and you'll still be enjoying the benefits next spring. Low-toxicity products are available, including baits and mound treatments. Apply baits late in the day when the ants are out foraging. A good way to tell if they are active is to toss a tuna can lid on the ground and check back in 15 minutes to see if they are feeding on it.