By Susan Stone
You can tell by the color of the marsh that September is here! Oh, the beautiful lime green set against the cobalt sky…when you see this combination, fall is just around the corner.
Here in the Lowcountry, fall is for planting! Trees, shrubs, spring perennials and don’t forget the winter food crop! With ample rain fall typical this month, it’s a great time to plant. We still have a few months left in the growing season.
Soil preparation is always tops on my list of seasonal chores. It is my first consideration when planting either flowers or food. Here on the coast, our soil is primarily sand. It is difficult to keep nutrients from leeching away. Gardeners with poorly drained soil (clay) or very sandy soil can easily improve their yield with raised beds. Any rot resistant material will work as a frame. There are many D.I.Y. websites available to help inspire you. Once you have your frame, select good quality topsoil and compost for your fill. Raised beds can be any size. To save your back, and prevent the need to muddy your shoes, limit the width to 3-4 feet so you can reach across without getting your shoes dirty or straining your back. If you are new to food crops or have a small family, you may want to consider a container garden on your patio. As long as your pots are well drained, you can grow just about anything right on your deck!
Make sure you consult a companion planting guide before you make your final selections. For instance planting beets next to pole beans will stunt their growth. Cabbage and grapes are not good neighbors, but broccoli helps lettuce. There are insects that one attracts which helps the other. For other veggies, it is simply bad chemistry.
This is the last month you will fertilize and prune your roses. From now until February, you allow the rosehips to form, so the roses can finish their cycle.
One last tip; spring bulbs are beginning to show up in the garden centers. Choose high quality bulbs and check to make sure they will grow in the Lowcountry. Just because they sell them, doesn’t mean they like it here. Happy Planting!