Let’s Get Gardening: September 2017

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the rain we got this week! I have been dragging hoses and sprinklers around and filling up tree gators since June, because we have had almost no rain at all at my house. Chelsea has gotten some significant rain events this summer that just totally skipped past the Manchester area – where I live – and I am surprised I haven’t burned out my well pump with all of the watering I’ve had to do for my flower beds and veggie garden. I’m not sure that I’m happy with the significant drop in temperature, though! I personally like the cooler temps, but I’m not ready for my veggie garden to stop producing all the great summer vegetables I love eating. Of course, it is September in Michigan, so there’s a good chance we’ll be back up into the 80’s yet.

I’m starting a new feature with this month’s newsletter, in response to the myriad requests for recommendations that I get. People often ask me what I use for certain tasks in my yard or garden, and I am happy to share that information. But it occurs to me that if there is one person asking, there are probably others who might be interested in the answers. So each month, I will highlight a product that I find useful, in case you might, also. If there are products you use that you think others might be interested in hearing about, please let me know – I’m happy to share your experiences as well! I hope you find this new feature helpful.


In this issue:

Featured Garden Product:

The Garden Trug- In case you aren’t familiar with them, garden trugs are made of  frost-resistant polyethylene (a sort-of rubbery material), that is really tough, and very pliable. According to the manufacturer, the garden trug “is the Earth’s most multi-use bucket.”

September is a great time for planting perennials, trees, and shrubs. Cool weather vegetables get a second season now, and if you want a nicer lawn in the spring, now is the time to work on that. In other words, September is a great month for gardening.

If you haven’t already, plant some leaf lettuce, spinach, and radishes now and you can extend your garden season.Garden:

  • In Michigan, the best garlic gets planted in the fall for harvest the following summer. Our planting garlic is due to arrive in about a week.
  • Pinch off any new flowers on tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
  • Pull any plants that have finished producing and compost them – but don’t compost diseased plants.
  • You may find that, with the cooler temps, your summer squashes, cucumbers, and beans slow down production- but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are done.
  • Don’t stop spraying your tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash with fungicide.
  • If you have basil in your garden, you might want to get it picked and used, or turned into pesto and frozen pretty soon. (Recipe inside the newsletter!)
  • Most other herbs in your garden will last a while yet, but you can also pretty easily dry those any time, and freezing most herbs is also an option.

Flowers, Trees & Shrubs:

  • September is a great time to plant new perennials, trees, and shrubs. Take advantage of the sales many garden centers have at this time of year, and get the plants in early so that they have time to get their roots established before cold weather sets in.
  • I’ve had a few people say that they noticed trees and shrubs starting to change color in early and mid-August. That seems early for a reason – because it is! It’s likely not because of the shorter days or cooler nights, but because of the stress they suffered from the lack of rain all summer.
  • If your container plants are starting to fade, pull them out and replace them with fall plants, such as mums, asters (September’s official flower), and pansies.
  • Fall planting bulbs will also be in soon. These all get planted in the fall, after we’ve had a couple of frosts, but before the ground is frozen.
  • As it cools down, and perennials start to fade, it’s a great time to divide and transplant those that have outgrown their space or started to get thin at the center.
  • One way to be sure that you don’t end up with more of some plants than you want (such as my sneezeweed) is to deadhead them as soon as the flowers have begun to fade. Many flowering plants spread by dropping seeds from their spent flowers, so removing the flowers before that happens can keep them under control.
  • If you put house plants outside for the summer, treat them with a pesticide meant for indoor plants before bringing them back inside. A few pests now can turn into an invasion in short order, and nobody wants that in their house!


  • September is a good month for revitalizing your lawn. You can fill in bare spots on the lawn by over-seeding.
  • De-thatching your lawn is also a good thing to do now.
  • During the hottest, driest part of the summer, cool-season lawns, like those we grow in Michigan, naturally go dormant (unless given supplemental water). Once it starts to rain again, they should come out of dormancy and quickly get green again.
  • If you only fertilize your lawn once per year, now is the time to do it, to encourage good root growth before winter.
  • Continue to mow, but mow a little higher – just not too high!


  • Some overwintering birds will use houses left out in the winter for shelter during cold nights, so consider leaving your bird houses out all winter.
  • If you haven’t been feeding all summer, start putting out food now to help migrating birds with their journey.
  • Keep your birdbaths out, cleaned, and filled until we start to get freezing temperatures (or beyond, if your birdbath is freeze tolerant or you have a de-icer).
  • Leave hummingbird feeders out until well into October to help those guys make their long journey.
  • Have you ever seen Chimney Swifts chattering and diving about in the evening? If not, you’re missing out on a great show – they’re a lot of fun to watch. Check out the newsletter to find out where!

Store News & Specials

  • $10 off $50 coupon.
  • Fairy Garden Make-and-Take Workshop, Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 ($25)

Read the September 2017 issue of Let’s Get Gardening

Remember to regularly visit The Garden Mill’s website and follow us on Facebook (fb.com/TheGardenMillChelsea) for our latest gardening and birding tips, as well as seasonal specials and fun stuff going on at the store.