horticulture

September Checklist for Connecticut Gardeners

Written by Colleen Amster and Arianna Ege, UConn Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

mums on a bench
Photo: Michelle Winkler

September is a good time for Connecticut gardeners to begin the fall cleanup and assessment process. It is also a good time to shop for trees, shrubs, and bulbs, and prepare for next year’s growing season. Here is a helpful list to get you started:

Annual and herbaceous perennials

  • Take note of which annuals did well in your garden this year and decide what plants you would like to add to your beds next spring, and where. It is helpful to take photos of the bare spots that you would like to fill.
  • Remove and compost spent annuals. Some annuals like geraniums can be dug up and placed in a cool place to overwinter in containers.
  • Some annuals are cold hardy, like pansies, calendula, sweet pea and ornamental kale, and can be planted now.
  • Begin to harvest and dry (in paper bags) seeds for herbaceous perennial plants that are ready to be collected by late September like hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon), echinacea (coneflower), rudbeckias (black-eyed susans), baptisia (false indigo) and some helianthus (sunflowers), just to name a few. Store seeds, once they are dry, in containers or bags in a cool dry location. Some coneflower seed heads, like echinacea, will need to be shaken in a container to separate the seeds from the chaff. Seeds can be started outdoors later in the fall or, for better results, inside in potting medium in the spring. Some will need to be refrigerated and stratified.
  • As herbaceous perennials turn brown, begin cutting back plants from 4-8” from the ground, depending on the plant. Some fibrous herbaceous perennials do best when they are divided every few years, including echinacea, hostas, and peonies.
  • Take note of any perennials that have been impacted by powdery mildew or fungal diseases. Look for fungal problems on leaves and remove and dispose of any diseased plant parts. This is a good time to research and implement treatments for plants that have been impacted by botrytis, or root rot, or other diseases over the last growing season.
  • It is also a great time to buy discounted plants that transplant well in fall. Many local plant trusts have sales in September and some will sell grouping of pollinator plants. Planting in fall allows root systems extra time to develop.

Bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, and corms

  • Decide what bulbs you would like to add to your garden beds and buy from a reputable source.
  • Before purchasing bulbs, check for disease or damage, such as rot, cuts, or bruises and do not buy bulbs that are soft or moldy. Make sure bulbs are firm and have a protective papery skin. Purchase hardy bulbs in August-September and plant the bulbs as soon as possible. Plant from mid-September to mid-October so the bulbs can grow roots before the ground freezes.
  • Store bulbs in a dry place away from direct sunlight until you are ready to plant them.
  • A special note about garlic: Garlic is especially beneficial in the garden. It is nutritious, easy to grow, repels pests and wildlife, and is a good pollinator plant if some is allowed to bloom. It comes in three varieties, hardenck, softneck, and elephant. If you are planting garlic next month, cloves should be purchased from a reputable supplier or local garden center. Garlic bulbs sold in the grocery store are mainly grown in China and California and may have diseases, nematodes, or viruses that can impact your soil.

Vegetable and herbs

turnips growing in a garden
Photo: Michelle Winkler
  • Maintain good sanitation in your vegetable gardens, pruning and removing diseased leaves, weeds, and any plants that are no longer producing viable fruit to reduce insect and disease issues, and staking plants like tomatoes to keep them off the ground.
  • Make room for cool weather greens like spinach, lettuces, radishes, collard greens, swiss chard, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, and mustard. Brussel sprouts can still be started now, as well as carrots and rutabagas. Check out this planting calendar for best dates to plant in your zip code: https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-calendar/zipcode/06070/date.
  • Harvest veggies as they ripen. Harvest and dry herbs that are beginning to get leggy or that have begun to flower or bolt.
  • It is a good time to save heirloom seeds for next season, including tomatoes. Fun fact: any tomatoes that haven’t ripened on the vine by the first forecasted frost can be harvested green and stored indoors until they begin to ripen! See this article for details: https://news.extension.uconn.edu/2014/10/27/is-your-garden-bursting-with-fall-tomatoes/.
  • You can take herb cuttings at this time to start herbs like mint and oregano indoors in a sunny window.
  • Protecting your fall vegetables and flowers with row covers will give you extra growing time in the season and protect tender plants from sudden temperature changes.

Trees and shrubs

  • Focus on removing deadwood and deadheading flowers after they bloom. Don’t prune too heavily, because new growth will not have time to harden off before winter and will be more susceptible to frost damage.
  • It is a good time to plant trees and shrubs, many of which are on sale this time of year!
  • Continue harvesting seasonal fruits.
  • Sanitize the area around each plant by removing fallen fruit and plant debris to prevent the spread of disease and pests.
  • Never add a heavy application of fertilizer to perennials or trees in the late fall as it will encourage new growth and plants can be injured by an early frost.

Lawns

  • Mow grass below 3” now that temperatures are dropping to reduce matting and fungal issues.
  • If your lawn is compacted, consider de-thatching and aerating.
  • Remove weeds and dead grass to expose soil and apply fertilizer. Now is the best time of year to plant grass seed and fill those bare patches in your lawn!

Soil and pests

  • Make plans to add mulch around plants that will need extra protection during the winter months and order a delivery of mulch if that is more economical than buying it in bags. Evergreens and other perennials will need a protective layer of mulch before the first frost. Remember to ask your supplier if they sell certified compost and mulch–and heat their products to at least 104 degrees to kill invasive earthworm cocoons and other pests.
  • All plants should be quarantined and observed before planting and some invasive pest research groups are recommending that all new plants be thoroughly rinsed and planted with bare roots.
  • Prepare your leaf collection bin and compost bin for cool weather.
  • Check for insect pests including the spotted lanternfly and invasive earthworms.
  • Apply deer repellent or plan for netting trees and perennials that deer tend to browse, including arborvitaes and yews.
  • Continue to weed garden beds and maintain good sanitation.
  • Many Connecticut gardeners are reporting infestations of the invasive Asian jumping or snake worm. Wood ash is always a beneficial fall amendment but has the added benefit of repelling these worms; diatomaceous earth or biochar may also be used to combat them.
  • Last, collect soil samples to be tested while the soil is still easily workable so you can plan soil amendments accordingly: https://soiltest.uconn.edu/sampling.php

References and further reading

Perennials: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/perennials.php
Bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, corms: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/bulbs/planting.cfm
Seed saving: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/seed-starting.php
Flowering sequence of different types of bulbs: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/bulbs/selection.cfm

Garlic: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/index_306_3102396391.pdf http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/Articles_28_731441880.pdf
Tomatoes: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/tomatoes.php
Saving seeds: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/Articles_25_1925738656.pdf
Invasive earthworms: https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/pdf-doc-ppt/kostromytska_invasive_earthworms_ppt.pdf

https://extension.psu.edu/look-out-for-jumping-earthworms
September gardening: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/gardening-tips-september_15_1424196800.pdf
Fall gardening: https://news.extension.uconn.edu/tag/fall-gardening/
Tree, shrub, and perennial planting and aftercare: https://clear.uconn.edu/projects/crlg/documents/f3.pdf
Fall lawn care: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/Articles_69_3249872767.pdf

Apply to Become a UConn Extension Master Gardener

2022 classes will include hybrid and virtual options

vegetable gardenFall is a great time to plan for next year’s gardening activities! Apply now for the 2022 UConn Extension Master Gardener Program. Classes will be held in New Haven, Norwich, Tolland, Torrington, and Stamford. The deadline for applications is Friday, October 18, 2021.

“The program provides the opportunity for beginner, intermediate or experienced gardeners to increase their personal knowledge of the practice of gardening … The program allows you to meet with like-minded people over a common interest – growing plants,” says Advanced Master Gardener Ken Sherrick of Middletown.

UConn Extension Master Gardeners have an interest in plants, gardening, people and the environment.  Specifically, they are willing to share their knowledge, passion and enthusiasm with their communities, providing research-based information to homeowners, students, gardening communities and others. They receive horticultural training from UConn, and then share that knowledge with the public through community volunteering and educational outreach efforts. UConn Master Gardeners help with community and museum gardens, school gardens, backyard projects, houseplant questions and more.

Four of the program cohorts will be in a hybrid class format, with three to four hours of online work before each of 16 weekly in-person classes, running from 9 AM to 1 PM. There will be one entirely online evening cohort, on Thursdays from 5:30 – 9:30 PM, hosted by the New Haven office.

Classes begin the week of January 10, 2022. Subject matter includes basic botany, plant pathology, soils, entomology and other aspects of gardening such as plant categories, native plants, and pest management. After the classroom portion, students complete 60 hours of outreach experience during the summer, along with a plant identification project.

“The Master Gardener program gave me an understanding the role of plants and insects within the ecosystem, which fostered a passion for removing invasive plants,” says Advanced Master Gardener Karen Berger of Canton, who now volunteers on a project to remove invasives, replacing them with native plants that benefit the local environment.

The program fee is $450.00, and includes all needed course materials. Partial scholarships may be available, based on demonstrated financial need.

For more information, visit the UConn Extension Master Gardener website at mastergardener.uconn.edu , where both the on-line and paper application are located.

Apply to Become a UConn Extension Master Gardener – 2021 Class Will Be Online

Master Gardener logoGarden harvests are underway, and it’s a great time to plan ahead for next year. Apply now for the 2021 UConn Extension Master Gardener Program. Classes will be held in Bethel, Brooklyn, Farmington, Haddam and Stamford. The deadline for applications is Friday, October 16, 2020.

UConn Extension Master Gardeners have an interest in plants, gardening, people and the environment.  Specifically, they are willing to share their knowledge, passion and enthusiasm with their communities, providing research-based information to homeowners, students, gardening communities and others. They receive horticultural training from UConn, and then share that knowledge with the public through community volunteering and educational outreach efforts. UConn Master Gardeners help with community and museum gardens, school gardens, backyard projects, houseplant questions and more.

“The Master Gardener Program opened my eyes to the wonderful world of horticulture, gardening, and the fragile ecosystem we share with animals and insects,” says Pat Sabosik of Hamden, who completed the program in 2017.

The 2021 class, that runs January through April, will be entirely online. Each topic consists of online educational material to be reviewed before the class date and a weekly interactive online session providing more depth and application of information to real-life situations. The classroom portion runs from 9 AM – 1 PM. There are five class cohorts available; each affiliated with one or more Master Gardener offices. This year’s Haddam class will be held on Saturdays.

“The combination of in-depth classroom learning with subject matter experts, extensive reading materials, and hands-on projects and outreach experiences is a good balance of learning experiences”, says Anne Farnum who also took the class in 2017.

Classes begin the week of January 9, 2021. Subject matter includes basic botany, plant pathology, soils, entomology and other aspects of gardening such as plant categories, native plants, and pest management. After the classroom portion, students complete 60 hours of outreach experience during the summer, along with a plant identification project.

The program fee is $450.00, and includes all needed course materials. Partial scholarships may be available, based on demonstrated financial need.

For more information, visit the UConn Extension Master Gardener website at www.mastergardener.uconn.edu , where both the on-line and paper application are located.

Pruning Guide

hydrangea plant

Check out this handy pruning guide and refresher from our Sustainable Landscaping and Nursery IPM Educators.  This was written for professionals, and is also applicable to home gardeners just getting started with the basics of pruning. It includes links to other resources for continued learning as well!

PRUNING TIPS AND RULES OF THUMB

– Identify the purpose of each pruning job. (Table 2)
– The amount of living plant material that can be re-moved at one time depends on the age and level of establishment of the plant (Table 3).

– Dead, broken, or diseased plant material can be pruned at any time of the year.

– To rejuvenate multi-stemmed shrubs, remove one or more of the oldest stems at the base each year to stimulate new shoots to arise from the base of the plant. Many flowering shrubs bloom more prolifically on younger, 2 to 3-year-old wood. Shrubs that respond well to having some of the 3+ year-old stems removed include forsythia, weigela, deutzia, mock orange and beauty bush.
– Newly established hedges should be pruned early in the growing season to promote the desired growth and density. More established hedges may be kept vigorous and dense by thinning out older branches, which will encourage new growth.”
Read more at bit.ly/Pruning_UConn

Bedding Plant Program for Greenhouse Growers

greenhouse flowers
Photo: Leanne Pundt

Get the latest information on bedding plant crop diseases, case studies on greenhouse production issues and more from University experts and network with professionals and fellow growers.  This educational program will feature the following topics of interest to those who produce spring crops in the greenhouse: 

·         Case Studies on Greenhouse Production Issues  

Rosa Raudales, Greenhouse Extension Specialist, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

·         The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Glyphosate, Candace Bartholomew, UConn Extension

·         Tales from the Field, Leanne Pundt, UConn Extension, (Feb 6th only)

·         Update on Bedding Plant Diseases, Abby Beissinger, UConn

·         Recap 2019, Bedding Plant Diseases to Prepare for 2020, Dr. Yonghao Li, CAES (Feb 11th only)

·         What’s New with Diamide Insecticides from OHP, Carlos Bogran, OHP  (Feb 11th only) 

For your convenience, this program will be offered in two separate locations.

·         February 6ththis program will be offered from 9:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Tolland County Extension Office at 24 Hyde Avenue, Vernon, CT.

·         February 11th, this program will be offered from 9:30 to 2:30 at the Litchfield County Extension Center at 843 University Drive, Torrington, CT.

 

Four Pesticide recertification credits available! 

For more information, contact Leanne Pundt, at 860.626.6855 or email: leanne.pundt@uconn.edu

The University of Connecticut is an equal opportunity program provider and employer.

Celebrating Retirement

Fairfield County Extension educators and retirees

On Friday, December 8th the Fairfield County Extension team and past Extension staff had a luncheon at the Red Rooster restaurant in Newtown. Past Extension Educator, Joseph J. Maisano, Jr. and his wife Betty Maisano attended. Joe worked as a Horticulture expert and Extension Educator for Fairfield County for 30 years. He shared with us that he worked in Extension for 30 years and that this year marks his 30th year of retirement. He continues to be an avid gardener and volunteers on the board for the community garden in his retirement community.

A Positive Approach to Service

volunteers
Master Gardener volunteers at an event.

Our UConn Extension Master Gardener volunteers are located in each of the eight county Extension centers, and at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford. Master Gardener volunteers donate their time each year to answer horticultural-related questions for the community.

In May, Gail Reynolds, our Master Gardener Coordinator at the office in Haddam received this letter from Carol of Chester, Connecticut:

Dear Ms. Reynolds, 

I am writing to make you aware of the exceptional service I received at the Extension program on May 26, 2017 when I brought an insect sample to your office. Your volunteer employees, Kenneth Sherrick, Susan Goodall, and Liz Duffy could not have been more motivated and interested in identifying the specimen and providing me with appropriate information. These employees exhibited a level of energy and competency that I have honestly never encountered in either a public service or private setting. Together they critically analyzed the resource materials, collaborated effectively to identify the specimen, and patiently explained their findings. They were sincere, welcoming, and friendly. My issue was positively resolved in a short time.

Certainly, we are all used to accessing public and private services – libraries, post offices, school systems, doctor’s offices – and we are accustomed to a particular, acceptable standard of service. But when one encounters a greater level of service, a higher degree of motivation, and a overwhelmingly positive approach to service it is remarkable indeed. These three volunteers operate in excellence, and they exceeded my expectations in every regard. You are quite fortunate to have them!

Sincerely,

Carol

Visit our Master Gardener program at http://mastergardener.uconn.edu.