September is to my autumn what June is to my spring. The weather is usually pretty nice, giving way to perfect breezes and evening thunderstorms. The trees begin to showcase their gorgeous colors, and new hues begin to emerge in flowerbeds. This time of year is always bittersweet for me. I love the smell of bonfires and the sound of a far-off drum line ushering in football season, but this also means I’m beginning to collect the last bits of summer produce from my garden.
Even though Old Man Winter will soon be upon us, there’s still plenty to do outdoors. This is a great time of year to tend to your compost pile (or start one if you haven’t yet). Adding grass clippings, spent produce, dead leaves, and what you cut from pruning will make an even more nutritious treat for your garden come spring. If you’ve never grown garlic before, I suggest putting at least an entire head in the ground or in a large pot to see how easy it is to grow (break the head into separate cloves before planting). You can also sow cover crops like winter rye into the garden, or spinach seeds late in the month for an early spring crop.
Autumn has long been a season of giving, and since this is a great time of year to divide overgrown perennials, think about offering some to friends and neighbors. I love to gift friends and family spare rhubarb crowns, coneflowers, daylilies, and even cloves of garlic for planting. In return I’ve been gifted bee balm, sedum, hosta, iris, and more. I think anyone with a garden full of produce feels a little energizing of the soul when they share some of their harvest with others. Passing a squash and a quart of green beans over the fence, or leaving a few beets and ears of corn on someone’s back porch makes me think of both of my grandmothers, and a time when life was a little slower – when neighbors were like family, and the grocery store wasn’t the first place you went for a few salad fixin’s.
I hope your first month of autumn is filled with family and friends gathered around tables full of home-grown food. Take a moment to enjoy the good things in life – bonfires and football included.