September in the Garden
Please come visit us at The Natural Gardener for the most comprehensive advice, plants, and organic gardening supplies appropriate to our area and the current season.
Fall is time for planting!
Fall is the best time of year to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, vines, or groundcovers here in Central Texas. It’s also time to plant wildflower seeds (you have until Thanksgiving), and there’s also a small window in early September to plant and establish native grass seed. Many veggie gardeners find the fall season to be more productive than spring in our area, so check out our Veggie Planting Calendar to plan your fall veggie garden.
Consider native groundcovers instead of turf
Horseherb or frog fruit are an excellent native groundcover in shady areas. Horseherb has delicate yellow flowers, while frog fruit can tolerate full sun and has white flowers. Both can be mowed. Another native shady option is pigeonberry, which has pink flowers and tiny red berries that attract wildlife.
Transplant, trade, or give away your divisions of daylilies, bearded irises, violets, wood ferns, cannas, and other herbaceous perennials. Perennials should be divided every few years to keep growth uniform and vigorous. If your larger plants are beginning to show bald spots in the center, or you notice your bulbs not blooming as much as they used to, that’s a good sign it’s time to divide your plants.
Start a compost pile
Watch out for brown patch in the lawn
Fall is the prime season for this fungal disease which affects mostly St. Augustine grass. Symptoms appear as fairly circular areas of brown patches, which may expand outward and may green up again in the center. While this disease is rarely fatal, it does look ugly. Read our guide on treatment and prevention of brown patch and other lawn fungal diseases.
Plant winter cover crops
Always be sure to mulch any bare spots of soil, or better yet, plant a cover crop. Cover crops assist in preventing weeds just as mulches do, but they also improve the soil as they grow. Covering bare soil with a living plant helps insulate the soil from temperature fluctuations and helps to crowd out potential weeds. Cover crops can be planted in bare areas around existing crops as well, such as in vegetable gardens and around fruit trees. If it is feasible to till in the cover crop, it becomes known as ‘green manure,’ adding organic matter as well as nutrients to the soil.
The cover crops to plant in fall are red clover, hairy vetch, Elbon rye, Austrian winter peas, or annual rye. Till these in next spring or anytime before they flower, except elbon rye, which should be tilled in before it reaches a foot tall, before it becomes too tough to till. For all cover crops, wait at least two weeks, and preferably three or four, after tilling before planting anything else. This gives the organic matter a chance to decompose. Watering the area will help in the decomposition process. If you are using the cover crop as a “living mulch” around vegetables, wait until the vegetables are established, about 6″-8″ tall, before sowing the cover crop.