September Gardening -‘Twas A Mix of Activities

September is always one of the busiest months in the garden and that is one reason why I have been away from my garden speak for so long. Of course, the last hurrahs of summer, the beginning of school and the holiday weekend kept me spinning until about the 10th when I finally took stock of the garden and realized it was time to get the gloves on!

I’ll state up-front that this post is not “filled” with lots of pretty photos of the “September stars of the garden.” A surprise hail storm, stormed (more like slapped, beat, kicked, punched) my garden a couple of weeks ago destroying all of the beautiful growth. Watermelons were knocked off the trellis, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes pelted until they split, perennials deflowered, leaves punctured, ripped and torn. I’m sure you get the idea…

It was a sad couple of days clearing all of the destroyed plant material and fresh produce and grimacing all the while that I didn’t get out and get photos of  the late season beauties. The old saying, “never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” was ringing throughout my thoughts.

But on to better days and better activities like the daily harvest of Sungold and Juliet tomatoes, and the everbearing raspberries. Here’s to shades of crimson!

imageimageBy the 15th, I had ignored the ever growing pile of compostables long enough (for about 3 months) so I emptied the raw material bin of my three-bin system and re-constructed the pile properly, mixing browns and greens throughout and making sure everything was damp. Of course all this pitchforking aerated the pile as well, giving it perfect conditions to cook away.

imageAfter 5 days it had shrunk at least 12 inches from the top. When your compost pile is shrinking rapidly you know it’s a well-built pile – decomposition at high-speed!

Around the 20th I started to see some prettiness again – from the asters. I have three varieties in my garden but am thinking of getting more if I can find some space.

imageimageAster frikartii ‘Monch’ is vigorous and I love the purpley/blue color of its jillion blooms and the long bloom season. The only thing I don’t care for is its tendancy to fall over even though I cut back the stems twice this year to make them stronger. It is still a beaut of an aster though and I think I’ll try a little less water next year to see if that helps. Has anyone tried aster ‘Wunder Von Stafa’ as an alternative to ‘Monch’? I’ve read this sister plant has stronger stems.

imageimageAster lateriflorus ‘Prince’ is an all-time favorite for me. I love it’s black, black foliage, ability to take full sun and gazillion white and ruby blooms. I haven’t yet found the exact right companion plant for it though, something that can highlight its foliage and bloom. Suggestions are welcome!

imageimageAster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ offers blackish purple foliage and zillions of white and blush blooms. It is much taller than ‘Prince’ but has a graceful growth habit. It takes quite a lot of room and has been on the “take it out ” list a couple of times but its unique foliage and time of bloom has kept it secured.

Now it’s the 29th and I’m out of the garden visiting Jackson Hole, Wyoming and it’s amazing natural beauty. (Attending my daughter’s soccer tourney too.) So clearing, harvesting, composting and enjoying the asters has been the mix of activities in my garden this September.

Dividing perennials, planting garlic, adding new plants and working on a new mediterranean inspired front garden are on the agenda for October.

How about you? What was the mix of activities in your garden this September? Did you enjoy any particularly large harvests or suffer any surprise weather conditions?

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