Gardening Tips for September in the Texas Coastal Bend by By Kitty Angell

Cabbage Gonzales, (c) Kitty Angell
"Just as all of us are experiencing the last of the summer doldrums, our vegetable gardeners are gearing up for wonderful fall and winter veggies. Just think of luscious creamed cauliflower for that Thanksgiving table, or cabbage and corned beef for the first blue norther! Snap beans planted in the fall have a sweeter flavor than ones planted in spring because they mature when temperatures are cool. Plant bush beans, lima beans broccoli, mustard greens, and radish. In late September, plant beets, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, collards, and sugar snap peas. Remember to intersperse your vegetables with herbs like cilantro, dill, and parsley.

We still need to be aware of how much we’re watering, especially when it comes to turf grass. “Knowing your irrigation sprinkler precipitation rate is the first step in reducing excess water use and improving plant quality,” according to Dr. Guy Fipps, a Texas A&M University Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer. He suggests using an “Aggie Catch Can.” This device measures irrigation volumes in both milliliters and inches. First, use your browser to find: Using Aggie Catch Cans SP424.pdf. Next visit to order one for your yard. Make sure none of your sprinkler heads are damaged before starting your test.

How much water does your landscape need? Irrigation schedules are based on “evapotranspiration” or “ET” for short. This term includes a measure of how much water plants need to grow and stay healthy. Phipps says, “Water requirements depend not only on the type of plant, but also on local weather conditions such as temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and solar radiation”. There is a great online resource site provided in Texas called the TexasETNetwork, or Users of this network can view daily ET information and weather data, and use the online calculators for calculating irrigation water requirements. This will help you understand your landscaping needs. Most homeowners apply twice the amount of water required to maintain their turf grass. 

September is a reminder that it is time to fertilize lawns. Many people forget that dandelions and other weeds germinate in the fall, thus requiring two applications of pre-emergent herbicides.

If you are planning to add new plants to your existing garden, be sure to rejuvenate by covering the beds with four to eight inches of compost and apply a 100% organic fertilizer at the rate of 10-20 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. If you are adding to an existing perennial bed, use the lower recommendations and work into the areas with a cultivator. Till or hand turn these amendments into the soil. Be sure not to damage the roots of existing plants. 

Continue a disease-spray schedule on roses. Black spot and mildew can be extremely damaging in September and October. Fungicide, used every seven to fourteen days, gives excellent control.

You can still plant certain flowers from seed in September. Among them are cornflower, delphinium, larkspur, lobelia, petunia, snapdragon, and stock. It’s time to divide and transplant spring-blooming perennials such as gaillardias, day lilies, Shasta daisy, violets, wood ferns, cannas, amaryllis, and iris. Continue to give established crinums plenty of water and organic fertilizer at this time to encourage repeat flowering. 

Here are two last reminders for September: Fall planting gives trees and shrubs several months of cooler weather to establish strong root systems that will enable them to withstand extreme hot temperatures like we have experienced this year. Location means everything when it comes to placement of trees and shrubs. Check with the planting instructions to make sure your plant receives the correct amount of sunlight and proper watering.

Lastly, consider our birds and butterflies. Ornamental grasses come in all sizes and provide food for butterflies, food and nesting for hummingbirds, and food, cover, and nesting for other species of birds."
Kitty Angell is a Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener


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