Plant Fall Cole Crops
September is the season for planting cole crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, collards, cabbage, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Start seeds now or wait until late September to early October to set out transplants. Help them along with a good feeding of a complete fertilizer and adequate moisture.
Protect Transplants from Sun
Transplants benefit from a shade structure to protect them from the brutal sun and desiccating winds until they can adjust to their new growing environment. Create some shade by pruning small branches from shrubs or bamboo and sticking them in the soil on the southwest side of the transplants. Strips of shade cloth or row cover fabric folded doubled and suspended over the plant row also work well.
Last Planting of Summer Veggies
Time is almost up for the final planting of fast-maturing summer veggies such as bush beans, summer squash, and cucumbers. The best way to get a crop in and mature in the shorter days of fall is to look for varieties with a days-to-harvest interval of 50 days or less, fertilize the planting well, keep it watered, and protect the young seedlings from pests.
Fall Soil Building
Few things can make more of a positive impact on garden performance than well-prepared soil. Compost is a miracle cure for poor soil. Mix 2 to 3 inches of compost into plant beds. Compost improves soil structure and drainage and works as a moisture and nutrient bank in the soil. Every time you pull out an old planting, work a few more inches of compost into the soil, and the garden just keeps getting better.
Take Cuttings of Woody Plants
Early to mid fall is a great time to start cuttings from tender landscape plants such as hydrangeas, which will be frozen back by the first frost. Select shoots that are in between succulent and woody. Take cuttings that are about 4 inches long, remove all but the upper leaves, dip the cut end in a rooting compound, and place them in small pots out of direct sunlight. Most species will root in a couple of months. They can then be transplanted into larger containers and overwintered in a greenhouse, sunroom, or other bright indoor location.