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September is time to prepare house plants

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Here it is almost the end of August.
Summer has flown by on super sonic wings. The jiggler on the canner has been singing in the kitchen every weekend and I still have bushels to go before I'm done. The pantry is looking better every day. We've only had one fog this month, so far, so I'm hopeful that it will be an easy winter.
Those of you who like to fertilize by planting should have your "green manure" cover crops in by now. Cover crops are mostly legumes that fix nitrogen back into the soil, like hairy vetch and clover. The summer's crops have taken up most of what was there. Sow the seeds and let the plants grow over the winter. Till the plants into the soil in late March or early April.
I've been seeing a few webworms decorating the ends of tree branches with what looks like white cotton candy. They'll eat everything living inside the webbing so it's best to destroy them as soon as you can see them. You can simply cut off the end of the branch and put it in a trash bag for disposal.
If your winter squash is turning, you planted too soon.
Most winter squash is ready in October, after a few cold snaps sweeten them. They store really well after a day or two of curing off the vine and out of the sun. Then, you can just store them somewhere cool and dark. I'm already craving winter squash soup.
I'm really ready for some winter foods. For some reason it's about now that I start craving soups, casseroles and cornbread, all those foods that require an oven. I don't think I've had it on more than twice this summer. The slow cooker and steamer have both been getting a workout. All these veggies are going into vegetable soup for this winter. The bread machine will be out on the counter soon.
Bugs have been a problem this year, probably because of the mild winter we had last year. If you've had a problem with Japanese beetles this year you better take some action. The best way is to cover the soil around your plants with a landscape matting and some mulch. They breed by laying eggs that hatch out into white grubs that burrow down into the soil now.
The dryer it is, the deeper they go, so that they don't dry out. You want them to dry out and die. The mulch with help.
If your outdoor to-do list has been long, it's about to get longer.
Early September is the time to prepare the plants for winter. Cut out all the old bramble canes that you picked berries from this year. They don't produce on old wood. Fertilize your strawberry plants with aged manure or compost now.
Clean up around all fruit trees, so nothing is left laying on the ground.
If you like to mow (and want a really nice green lawn), then fertilize your lawn in September with 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. The drought has been very hard on lawns this year so even a little manure would be a good thing to spread.
Now, get those house plants washed and ready to bring into the house. It won't be long before the mornings bring a real chill to the air. I've already been wearing my flannel shirts.  
Let's enjoy what's left of the summer while we can. It won't be 90 degrees much longer. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.