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SEPTEMBER GARDENING CALENDAR
Days get shorter and temperatures cool in September; it is time to shift gears in the garden and landscape.
To avoid brown patch in the lawn let the grass tend towards the dry side. If you must water, irrigate in the morning rather than the evening in order to reduce free water on the grass blades at night when the fungus develops. Remember, it is illegal to water the lawn with a sprinkler system between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. year-around in San Antonio. If brown patch shows up (rounded expanding infection centers where the top is killed but roots are okay) you can apply a labeled fungicide to stop the spread. Terrachlor, Turfcide, and Fungaway are three effective products.
Early September is also the time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide such as Amaze or XL to reduce winter weeds. The wild carrot, bedstraw, and rescue grass were especially bad last year. On or about October 1 apply a winterizer fertilizer to the lawn. It helps the grass survive the winter and contributes to a fast start in the spring.
In the vegetable garden you can plant carrots, radish, mustard, turnips, collards, rutabagas, and green beans by seed. September and October is also the time to plant the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts transplants. Keep your tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants well watered and mulched. Add another half cup of slow release lawn fertilizer to each plant when the first tomatoes set. Control caterpillars with Bt products. Neem oil sprayed under the leaves of tomatoes, marigolds, and other spider mite-prone plants may keep them at bay until cool weather arrives.
Your zinnias, vinca, gomphrena, marigolds, puslane, and moss roses can be spectacular in September, but it is time to plant snapdragons, dianthus, stocks, petunias, and calendula for cool weather blooms. If the only space you have is filled with hot weather bloomers the cool weather flowers can be planted in October. Pansies should not be planted until November.
Keep the zinnias, roses, esperanza, and poinciana deadheaded to increase and extend the bloom. Plant wildflower seeds this month. The site should be in full sun. Bare soil should be visible. The seed will not work in sod or in the shade. Raking helps but is not necessary. Do not bury the seed. There are great mixes available at area nurseries or visit suppliers on the internet. Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg and Douglas W. King Seed here in San Antonio are two suppliers.
The earliest pecans ripen in September. Pawnee is especially early. The longer the nuts set on the ground the more likely the quality will suffer. Collect them every day. The squirrels will also be collecting pecans. Increase your share of the pecan crop by trapping excess squirrels. A live trap baited with peanut butter works well. Plantanswers.com has recipes.
It is almost impossible to control webworms with sprays in the city now. Spray rigs large enough to reach the top of the trees are hard to find and expensive to hire. To obtain partial control, use a long cane pole to open up the webs that you can reach. The hot sun, wasps and birds will reduce the population and preserve the leaves that the caterpillars would have eaten.
The purple martins have left South Texas to trek to their wintering grounds farther south; it is time to lower and clean the martin houses. I leave my houses down so as to reduce the housing available for the English sparrows. They may produce another clutch of young this autumn and will use the martin house for a snug winter shelter.
Autumn is the best time to observe hummingbirds. Wave after wave of black chinned and ruby throated hummingbirds move through along with a few rufous hummingbirds. Keep your sugar water feeders clean and full (4 parts water and 1 part sugar by volume). If you do not have a feeder visit a store like Birds Unlimited or Locke Hill Feed. In fact, your favorite retail nursery, pet food store, or food market may sell hummingbird feeders. One brand, Best 1 Hummingbird Feeders, is even manufactured in Poteet! To increase the likelihood of observing hummingbirds in your yard make sure you have autumn-blooming flowers on the patio and in the garden. Firespike is great for deep shade in a container or in the soil. Use firebush in the full sun in a container or garden. Cape honeysuckle, zinnias, Salvia greggii, hibiscus, lantanas, esperanza, and poinciana will all attract the interesting little birds.