The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Garden "To Do" Lists

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator

If you are one of those folks who likes to make "to do" lists, here is your chance to make your gardening list.

Vegetable garden

Keep beans, cucumbers and other crops harvested so plants remain productive.

Plant cover crops such as oats in open areas of the garden. Cover crops reduce soil erosion in winter, improve soil structure and add organic matter to the soil. Oats are inexpensive, grow quickly in a cool, wet fall and are completely winterkilled, providing a nice residue over the winter. Plant at 1.2 to 2.3 lb/1000 sq. ft.

Harvest onions when tops fall over naturally. Cure onions in a shady well-ventilated area for two weeks. Store in mesh bags in a cool dry area.
Plant radishes, lettuce, peas, beets, spinach, broccoli, turnips and cauliflower for a fall garden. For more information contact the extension office for the Fact Sheet VC-28 the Fall Vegetable Garden.

Have a long discussion with your resident rabbits about the culinary attributes of dandelions as opposed to beans.

Trees and shrubs

Now through fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Be sure not to plant too deeply. Make hole twice the diameter of the root ball but at the same depth. Water thoroughly and keep moist until soil freezes.

White pine trees will often drop their older, interior needles at the end of the season. Don't worry. It is a natural occurrence.

Pick off any bagworms on cedars.


Before returning houseplants to the home, thoroughly rinse off leaves, inspect plants for insect pests and treat if necessary with products such as insecticidal soap.

Start amaryllis dormancy by withholding water. Place in cool dark location. Dormancy doesn't begin until all leaves are dead. Plant should remain dormant for 2-3 months.

Pot oregano, chives and rosemary for indoor use.

Harvest sage for the last time. Hang in bunches to dry indoors.


Use herbicides to control broadleaf weeds such as dandelion and creeping Charlie from now until mid October. Control is often more effective now than in the spring. Read and follow all label directions.

Scout for grub damage in lawn. Usually 8-10 grubs per square foot are needed before insecticide treatments are necessary.

Renovate poor quality lawns or establish new ones now through September. Contact the extension office for fact sheets on lawn renovation and establishment.

Flower Gardens

Divide and transplant peonies. Be sure to have 3-5 eyes per division and don't plant eyes more than two inches deep.

Order bulbs for planting in September and October. Add some extra early spring bloomers such as winter aconite and snowdrops.

The average date of first frost is October 15. Dig tender bulbs such as dahlias, tuberous begonias, caladium,gladioli and cannas before a hard freeze. A light frost, just injuring the leaves, is OK. Cure in warm room and store in box of sawdust, peat moss or vermiculite at 45-50 degrees F.

Stop fertilizing roses and perennial flowers to encourage dormancy.

Sign up for the Master Gardener program.

Master Gardener Workshops

Join Master Gardeners at the Idea Garden at the U of I Arboretum, just south of the corner of Florida and Lincoln in Urbana. All programs start at 10:00 am.

September 15 - Care of the Rose Garden
Master Gardeners Gloria Levitt and Cheryl Pettus will share their tips on growing healthy roses and how to get roses through the winter.

September 22 - Tools of the Trade
Join Master Gardeners as they share a few of their favorite tools for working in the garden.

October 6 - Preserving Your Garden Fruits and Vegetables
Master Gardener and Phrugal Pharmer Phil Dziuk has spent many years gardening and preserving what he grows. Note: This program will be held at the U of I Extension auditorium 801 North Country Fair Drive in Champaign.

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