Middle South

September, 2009
Regional Report

Wait to Plant Bulbs

Wait to plant spring-blooming bulbs until the soil temperature drops into the 50-degree Fahrenheit range, or they may start to sprout. However, feel free to purchase them now while the selection is good. For the time being, store them in a cool, dry place or in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Wherever you put them, keep them away from apples, because apples give off ethylene gas, which can rot bulbs.

Remove Bagworms

Keep an eagle eye on junipers, arborvitae, and other needled evergreens for bagworms, which pupate in September. The bags hang downward from branches and may be gray or brown in color, resembling dangling Christmas ornaments. Snip away the bags with scissors, as pulling can leave a silk thread that will girdle the twig as it grows. Severely infested evergreens can be sprayed with dormant oil in winter to smother eggs, andBacillus thuringiensis (Bt), an organic control for caterpillars, in early spring.

Sow Parsley

Sow parsley seeds in September, but be patient, as they can take weeks to germinate. Some say parsley germinates best after they have been rained on several times, as the rain leaches chemicals that keep the seeds from sprouting. Others recommend pouring boiling water over the seeds and letting them sit overnight before planting.

Add Fall-Blooming Plants

For a garden with year-round interest, shop for plants in every season. In September, look for asters, monkshoods, goldenrods, toad lilies, Japanese anemones, and late-blooming salvias. Pineapple sage (Salvia rutilans), named for the scent of its crushed leaves, and Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), are two of my favorites. While tender, both of these plants usually survive winter in our region.

Take a Soil Test

September is the ideal month for taking soil samples to be tested by the Extension Service that serves your area. The quality of the sample is very important. Avoid sampling when the soil is very wet or when fertilizer or other additives have been recently applied. Obtain boxes and forms from the Extension Service and follow directions carefully for best results.

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