September 2018 Garden Update
I am happy to share the September 2018 garden update. This month truly marks the beginning of the fall season for me, and a lot was planted this month. Unfortunately, even though this month marks the beginning of fall, here in Florida it still feels like summertime.
This September was mostly hotter and drier than normal. Average historical temperatures in my neck of the woods here in Central Florida (zone9b) are highs of 89 and lows of 74. This month we seem to have had average highs of 90 and lows of 77. This is much closer to our July and August temperatures.
There were a few “cooler” days, with less humidity, where it briefly felt like fall was just around the corner. Which, by now it technically is. However, I am still looking forward to cooler weather.
What I Planted In September
September is always a big month for planting for me here in Florida. I started my seedlings indoors during July and August for some vegetables. I then started to harden them off towards the end of August and transplanted them in September. This month I also included a few flowers.
What I Transplanted in September
This month I transplanted a lot, including vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
- Peppers (banana, bell, and jalapeno)
- Eggplant (black beauty and long purple)
- Tomatoes (brandy win, money maker, Cherokee purple, and San Marzano)
- Brussels sprouts
- Oregano (Greek and Italian)
- Mint (spearmint and peppermint)
What I Started From Seed in September
This month I sowed a few seeds directly in my raised garden beds. These seeds included:
- Italians Flat String beans
- Bok Choy
- Swiss Chard
- Mustard Greens
- Green onions
The roots, squash family, and legume family do better directly planted (first 6 listed). The broccoli and lettuce family could have been transplanted, but I ran out of starter trays.
Garden Products I Used In September
This month there were a few garden products that I used to help my garden. While a lot of my fall garden prep was done in August, there were still a few things I used this month to help my seedlings.
With average temperatures higher than normal this month, I was especially happy with my shade cloths. Shade Cloths are great for warmer regions. These can be used to keep your plants cooler during hot summer months. They can also be used to keep pests at bay. If you’re interested you can check out more about Using Shade Cloths.
I also tried using a new row cover this month called Haxnicks Easy Tunnel – Giant Micromesh. It’s 118″L x 24″W x 18″H. My raised beds are 8’x4′. These tunnels can be collapsed a bit length-wise like an accordion, so I purchased 2 to cover one of my raised beds. They ended up fitting very well.
The material is a greenish yellow mesh that lets light and rain in, and insects, birds, and large rodents out. I don’t think they’d keep mice or squirrels out since those could still borough under the sides, but it will at least make them work for it a bit more. 😀 The mesh is sewn around metal arches that are staked into the ground about every 1.5 feet. I personally would only use these over leaf and root crops and skip using them over legumes and fruiting crops. This is because 1) they’re only 1.5 feet tall 2) it’s harder to access your crops and for your friendly neighborhood pollinators to access on a daily basis. You can still access your crops without pulling up the tunnel. I’m able to push back the fabric along the metal arches to weed and tend to my leafy crops.
I’ve had my eyes on these for a while now, and I finally decided to purchase two and see how they would work. These were more expensive than the shade cloths, but the benefit they provide is that they cover your garden/vegetables completely. You can definitely use shade cloths for your own DIY row covers, and I’ve built my own enclosure for my squash plants using shade cloths. I was interested in something that required less assembly and could be used year after year. Because of the mesh material, I think these will hold up longer than my shade cloths.
Blood meal is the other product that was used in my garden this month. And it probably will be every month for the rest of the year. It’s an organic fertilizer that adds nitrogen back into your soil to help your plants become more green and lush. It comes in a black granular form that you add to your soil. Blood meal can also raise the acid level of your soil, which lowers the pH level of your soil.
I let my seedlings get acclimated to their transplanted environments for a couple weeks and then I add blood meal around each seedling. The transplant is shocking enough that I don’t like adding any amendments on top of that. I also don’t add the blood meal to my legumes because they already produce nitrogen. If you’re interested you can check out more about using blood meal.
What I’d do Different Next September
One of my favorite parts of gardening is everything there is to learn, and how much you can really improve year after year when you garden. Looking back, there are 2 things that stand out to me that I would do differently, and I plan to do differently next year. First, I would probably plant marigolds sooner in the year and grow them in my garden beds during the summer and then til them into the soil before the fall season. I’ve read so much about how this can help with nematodes and now that I know how easy it is to grow marigolds from seeds this would be a very cost-effective method to use.
The second thing I would do is make sure I start my pepper plants a little bit earlier indoors and/or use collars when I plant them. You can use paper towels rolls or yogurt containers to create little “collars” around your plants. Seedlings are tender and easy for cutworms to cut through at the base of your plant. Once peppers plants are a little bit bigger this is harder for insects to accomplish. I’ve used collars in the past but just didn’t think of doing it this year. A couple transplanted peppers ended up getting eaten. I did grow more than I needed so it wasn’t too much of a loss, but I think this would help in the future.
Did you plant anything in your garden this month? Comment below!