No matter how we may wish it, the inescapable fact is September is here and summer is winding down to a close. For the avid green thumb, the cooling of the air isn’t a sign to hang up the shovel or edger. In fact for many September is a very busy time in the garden. It’s the perfect month to clean up after your active summer, and to help prepare for the dark and damp days ahead. Here are just a few things to do in the garden this month.

If you have a vegetable garden it’s likely that thanks to Nanaimo’s mild climate your assorted produce will continue to be producing those fresh and delectable treats for your table, but at a noticeably reduced rate. Crops such as cucumbers, peas and beans will continue producing until the fall frosts arrive.

If you have some specifically fall-themed crops such as pumpkins, sweet corn or marrow, they will be just coming into their own, perfect for pies and soups. If not wanting to use these crops directly from the garden, but prefer storing some for later usage, items like pumpkins need to develop a tougher skin. Experts say the best way to do that is to leave them out in a dry, sunny spot for 10 days following harvest. Once cured by the sun they can be placed in cool, dry storage for later use.

September is the time to collect the harvest. If you have blackberries or other fruiting crops pick them as they ripen as this will encourage additional berries to appear. Once again this will continue until hard rains or autumn frosts end the berry season once and for all. Early season apples, plums, pears and other fruits will also need picking. Many of them can be eaten as fresh fruit, stored for later use or made into jams and preservers. Fall raspberries are especially active this month and are ideal for homemade jams.

Are salads one of your favorite parts of the meal? Then consider sowing some winter salad greens. Spinach, winter lettuce, rocket (often called Arugula) and other hardy autumnal greens make for robust salads. Thanks once again to the Vancouver Island area having such a mild and pleasant climate you can enjoy a fresh salad all year long while your Eastern cousins get by with imported, subpar products. If you’re fortunate enough to have a greenhouse then you’re doubly blessed in terms of dinner time variety. Fresher is always better.

September is also an opportune time to get out your tools and get after the weeding you’ve been neglecting while out having fun this summer. Remove the remains of the new finished summer crops, clean up the leaves and vegetative litter that the season seems to love producing, and try to be consistent in your efforts. Weeds love to get a foothold, so the best way to prevent a major clean-up effort is to be consistent in your weeding.

Every yard is different and has different needs and delights, so your list of tasks may be different from your neighbors. What is a universal constant is that the cooler days of September offer plenty of opportunity to keep your garden tidy, healthy and productive.