Friday, 27 September 2013

Garlic Planting On A Great Sunny Day!

Lovely day today to plant up some garlic. Sun is shining and is T-shirt weather.

When To Plant
Garlic is best planted between mid September and end October here on the island.
The general rule for garlic planting anywhere is to plant it up in fall, about 3 to 6 weeks before ground freeze up so that it has time to set roots but does not start to grow above ground.
However, here on the island, is not an issue if you see green sprouts in early winter!

I generally plant mine in mid October but heard that we are supposed to have a stormy week-end, with lots or rain, gloom and cooler temps. The weather has already been cooler and wetter this month than usual and so I am thinking that winter may perhaps come earlier this year? Plus, the Farmer's Almanac seems to agree ; )

Of course, who know, it may just be a big trick and October may end up being spectacular. Either way, my garlic will thrive.

 
 
Soil Preparation 
Garlic needs a neutral pH, and good nutrient rich loam in order to size up well.
It will grow in any kind of soil, whether sandy, loamy or clay. Sandy or loamy soil means your bulbs will be cleaner when picking. 
Soil must be well draining though. Here on the coast where our winters are very wet and rainy, is best to grow the garlic in raised beds or to create 'hills' for the garlic to grow in.
If you have not amended your garden soil earlier, you can still do it while planting, Mix in some great compost, alfalfa, and bone meal or fish bone meal.   
 
My garlic this year went into a brand new bed that is 5' wide, 24' long and 12" deep.
The soil is a lovely, newly purchased, garden mix, with compost already added, from my favourite local supplier. Therefore, no extra amending is needed this year.
 
 
As we built the new bed on a grassy area, we put a thick layer of  packing paper (from our recent move) at the bottom of the bed before adding the soil. This will make sure that the grass and/or weeds does not grow through the bed.  You can also use cardboard or newsprint (4 sheets thick).  
  

Cracking your garlic
When you are ready to plant, start cracking your garlic, meaning to break the bulbs open to get the cloves. Do this no more than 24 hours ahead of time or they will dry out and not root in well, if at all.
I crack mine as I plant, one variety at a time.


It is okay if the skins come off as you crack them but you want to make sure you still have the 'cap' on the end of the clove. This is where the clove was attached to the stem of the bulb and is where the new roots will grow from. If your clove is not intact, do not plant it but use the clove for cooking instead .


The difference between hard neck and soft neck (artichoke) garlic is the stem (neck!) or middle part.
 
The one on the left is the kind that we are used to seeing here in Canada. That is a hard neck garlic after the cloves have been cracked off. The cloves are clustered around this main stem. Discard the stem after cracking.

The one on the right is the centre of the soft neck garlic. Softnecks are the ones that are easily braided in summer for storage. Hard necks can also be braided but softies are so much easier to do.
Do not plant this variety in colder areas, anything less than a Zone 5.
This is my first time planting the soft necks. From what I understand, the centres are  not usually planted for bulb production, but can be planted up for the bulbils. I decided to plant them all anyway and see what happens, cuz you all know I like to trial new things. Live, trial, and learn. Next year I will know a whole lot more about soft neck garlic growing!

Planting your garlic
I take my hoe or rake and push the handle into the soil to make a straight line to trench up. I then use the hoe end to form a wee trench to plant in, loosening the soil to 3 or 4 inches deep. The garlic should be planted with the root end down and the tip about 2 inches below the soil level. I simply push each clove in to the loose soil.

 

As I did not have to amend my soil this year, I only needed two tools at planting time.
A rake to even out the soil in the bed ( from all the doggie foot prints, mostly)
And a 3 pronged garden hoe (cultivator) to make the trenches and loosen the soil.
I marked out 8 inches on the handle of the hoe with a sharpie to make the planting simple.

 
Here you can see where I have pushed the cloves into the ground in a zig zig patter
7 inches apart on all sides.  

Plant your cloves anywhere from 4 to 8 inches apart.
If you go with 4 inches apart, you will have more bulbs to harvest, but they will be smaller at harvest time. Plant the cloves 4" in the rows, with the rows 6" apart.
I planted mine 7 inches apart from each other, with the rows also spaced 7 inches apart.
 

This bed is finished, about 350 cloves in this bed.
Am now waiting on hubby to build me one more long bed for the rest of the garlic ; )

For now, I just cover up the cloves gently with the rake ...  and that is about all till harvest.

If you are in a colder area, you can mulch your beds with 4 to 6 inches of straw or leaves, etc...

In our area, mulching is not recommended.
 

You might be wondering about the wee little terra cotta pots in the beds...

Both of my English Mastiff pups like to pull out the plastic tags from pots and garden beds, leaving me scratching my head and wondering who is who.... (this is the current situation that I am having with my hot peppers this year!)

Therefore, I though I had best double tag the varieties, just in case... So, this year the names are both on the plastic label tags but also on the wee pots. Hoping that the pots are still there, if the tags were to somehow disappear.

 

Watering the garlic
If it is dry when you plant, water in your garden every second week or so, till the rains, or snows, come.
In spring, start watering again until the end of June-ish. Once you start to see any yellowing or browning on your foliage, stop watering, usually two to three weeks after you harvest your scapes.
 

Scapes are the curly tops of your hard neck garlic. They form in June and should be removed for larger bulbs of garlic.
Luckily, they are also delicious to eat! I lightly saute or roast them with some sea salt and olive oil. Yummers!

Harvesting your garlic
This is the tough part, how to know when they are ready to pick. If you pick too early, they will not have sized up yet, if you pick too late, they will have separated from the stem ... and will not cure or store well. (Use those ones for cooking)

You can gently push the soil from the tops of the bulbs and feel the bumps (cloves) on the tops of the garlic. When they are a good size, you can start to harvest your garlic. The leaves, too, will tell you when they are ready. Pick when the bottom two or three leaves are yellowing/browning. This will be around mid to late July.

Gently lift and loosen the garlic from the side with a shovel or a garden fork, then pull out.
If you have heavy soil, do not simply pull up your garlic, or you will pull the stem right out of the bulb.

Curing your garlic
Do not leave in the garden beds to cure or they will cook or get sun burnt.

Place them in an airy yet shady area to cure for two to six weeks. If you do not have good air flow or breezes going thru your curing area, use fans to circulate the air.

I lay mine out, well spread out, on a table in the carport or potting shed. You can also bundle them in bunches of about 6 bulbs per bundle, and hang to dry.

Leave the roots and stems on your garlic as they cure.

Once they are dry and papery, trim the roots and the tops from the garlic, and then brush the dirt off the skins ( this is super easy if you wear a pair of garden gloves with the rubber on the palm).

You well cured garlic should store from 6 to 10 months, depending on the variety.




Happy planting!



Tuesday, 24 September 2013

More Tips for Growing Great Garlic

I know I blog a lot about garlic growing, it has become a real passion of mine.
Is so gratifying to watch it grow from a small clove to a harvest of smelly goodness... is also fairly easy to grow, requiring little time or muss or fuss after the initial planting time.

This post is all about tips that will enable you, too, to have great success with your garlic growing, and therefore become fanatical about it, also.
 

TIPS
- Buy great garlic from a great, reliable source.
If you do not have an organic garlic farm around or a garlic festival, go to your local farmers market. They will have organically grown, local garlic and you will be supporting local small mom and pops, too. If they do not have garlic for sale, look for a farm stand, a local garden centre, local seed sellers/companies, veggie and fruit stands, small local farms or organic food stores, co-ops, etc.. in your area. Organically grown garlic being sold for eating at your all natural grocers will likely be able to be grown, as well. Find out if it is locally grown so they have not been sprayed with any growth inhibitors.

- When you 'crack' or 'pop' your garlic bulbs open into cloves, try to leave the skins on the cloves.
It is okay if they come off, however, will not hurt your garlic ... just as long as you still have some of the cap left on the bottom (where they were attached to the bulb). If the garlic is not intact with the cap, do not plant, use that clove for cooking instead. 

- When you plant, water your garlic in to help it start rooting in. Garlic likes even moisture. Also, if really dry in spring, water in well each week, till mid to end June when you start to see yellowing or browning on teh foliage.

- BUT, Garlic does not like to sit in water or it will rot, so raise the gardens by planting in raised beds or hilled gardens.

- Sandy soil or loamy soil is better than clay, though all soils will grow great garlic. Clay is harder to clean off the bulbs when harvesting and you need to make sure it is well draining.

- Plant with the pointy side up. It will still grow if you plant it upside down, but will not size up as well, as it has to grow the top in a circle around the clove and then up thru the ground. Too much energy spent.

DO's

- Plant in fall, from mid Sept to late October. Trust me, is not even close to too late yet, no need to fret!

- Plant in a sunny area!

- Plant in raised beds here in the Pacific NW  (or make 'hills' in your garden to make sure that you have really, really fabulous drainage!).

- Plant in a bed that has great nutrients  and great organic matter. Garlic is a heavier feeder than you might think! Add chicken manure, blood meal, or alfalfa to add great nitrogen. Bonemeal or feathermeal is great for the phosphorous, compost or manure adds the potassium.

- Do keep your bed well weeded for larger bulbs as garlic does not compete well with weeds..

- Do add lime to your bed, a few months before planting to allow for time to change the pH, if your soil is on the acidic side. Neutral pH is best, between 6 and 7.5.

- Do side dress your garlic in late winter, as the growth really kicks in. Alfalfa or blood meal and some bone meal is great, do not dig it in, just scratch in to the surface. Also, foliar feeding is also a great way to feed, with some liquid kelp or seaweed sprayed on about once a month.

- Do space your cloves about 6" to 8" apart for larger bulbs. Rasa Creek Farms likes to go with 7".  If you go 4" apart you will have smaller bulbs, though more of them.

DON'Ts

- Do not plant when the soil is too wet. You want your soil to be warm (10 C) to ensure good rooting in. Cold wet soil will cause your bulb to rot. Planting 3 to 6 weeks before ground freeze is ideal.

- Don't forget to harvest your scape's in June. Tasty to eat and makes for larger bulbs.

- Don't water in July! When you see the yellowing leaves, it is time to leave the garlic alone to finish doing it's thing!

- Don't leave the garlic in the ground too late in spring, pull when the bottom two or three leaves are yellow/brown. Another rule of thumb is when it has 40% browning.

PLEASE NOTE  - Leaving garlic in the ground longer will not make for larger bulbs! It will instead cause your garlic cloves to separate, or even begin to shrivel and rot. The perfect garlic picking window from just right to too late is only about a week long.


Friday, 20 September 2013

Heirloom Tomato Review 2013

Thoughts and musings about this years best heirloom tomatoes.

What an amazing year it was for growing great tomatoes!
I had little to no issues with Blossom End Rot (BER), very few bugs, and very little foliage issues - fungal or otherwise. Plants grew well and fruited well!

So, why was last year such a challenge and this year so amazing?
Well, the weather was certainly nicer this spring than it was last year, here on the PNW. So, perhaps it was simply a case of the right weather, at the right time of year, for the tomatoes to truly thrive?

This is how my tomatoes were grown this year...
They were mulched (in the raised beds) with landscape paper (like landscape fabric, except made for veggie beds, is brown paper, bio-degradable) to retain moisture and prevent weeds. Others were planted in 5 to 7 gallon black pots, as usual.
They were watered every 3 days or so in the beds, while the potted ones were watered daily.
Also, they did not get planted into the garden till pretty late in the season, towards the last week of  June.
This might actually be the one main reason that they thrived so well this year  ...  Instead of pushing the season as I usually do, this years plants went straight into warm soil, had warm air temps both night and day, and were mulched to keep in the warmth and moisture.... the perfect scenario for great tomatoes!

However, whether a combination of all these things or just simple luck, it truly has been a stunning tomato year.  

Tomatoes 2013 ... in no particular order!


Bison - A red slicer type tomato
This heirloom is early to produce, with the fruit ripening pretty much all at the same time. That makes it a great canning type.
It is a determinate (bush type) so grew nicely in it's cage. I supposed to be sturdy enough to be able to be grown on it's own with no cage or staking required, but I had a cage, so used it ... just in case ;)
The flavour was nice with a hint of sweetness, a great sandwich topper due to it's large size and good flavour.
The fruits were perfect, round, large, and blemish free. I had no issues at all with any cracking, cat-facing, Blossom End Rot (BER), or splitting.
I did, however, have to remove a fair amount of the bottom foliage due to yellowing and bug damage.

 

Plum Lemon - A yellow paste tomato
Sadly, my pic of the yellow fruit did not turn out (was so fuzzy that it hurt the eyes to look at it, lol) and we had already moved to the new urban farm before I noticed, so there was no going back for another round of pics.
However, I can vouch for the fact that it is an absolutely beautiful tomato to grow, with many of these huge clusters of pointy fruits hanging from the 6 foot vines. It was simply loaded with fruit.
I will absolutely do this one again next year!
Really want to make a yellow tomato sauce and pasta sauce!
Friends say that the flavour is fabulous, they would so grow it again and again. The fruit has a hint of sweetness, is super tasty, good and meaty. Perfect for a sauce or sandwich topper!


Creme Brulee - Mmmmm! A black slicer tomato
This is a very nice tomato! Pretty to look at, no cracking, no blemishes, no BER, no issues of any kind.
Tastes kind of bland on it's own, but add some salt and it totally brings out the great flavours.
Is reddish-black, so a red with a smokey tint. Use as a sandwich topper for a great BLT.
Is great in size, shape and productivity.

 

Black Plum - A black paste tomato. My 2nd favourite this year!
A keeper for sure! This one is pretty, productive and tastes amazing!
The tomatoes are not large in size, but there are a lot of them, many clusters over the whole vine.
Is super pretty to look at with the dark red/black colouring and green shoulders.
Taste is sweet and tomato-ey, with a deep smokiness, very yummy!
Early to ripen, as well, which makes it even better! Was one of my earliest tomatoes this year!

 
 
 
Principe Borghese  - large cherry or small Roma style tomato.
They are early to ripen but I found them a bit too tart for fresh eating.
They are best known as a terrific drying tomato because they tend to retain more flavour than other varieties.
Simply allow the fruit to ripen on vine, lift the entire vine and hang to dry! Does not get any easier than that!
They are also often used in sauces, as a sub for Roma style tomatoes. Can, of course, be used for fresh eating in salads and such, though I found them to be somewhat too zesty for my taste.
Very, very productive, loads of fruit on this determinate (bush type) tomato. I now know why this is such a popular tomato variety to grow!
 
 
 
Grappoli D'Iverno - Grape tomato. My #1 this year.
This one is now one of my all time favourites! So glad I tried it, as it is such a stunner.
Again, no issues with the fruits or the foliage, absolutely no BER at all, which is so great, as plum/paste types are known for BER issues.
Loaded with fruit, sweet and super duper tasty. This one was my favourite new (for me) tomato this year!
The flavour is nice and tomato-ey, but with a sweetness that makes it perfect for salads and fresh eating. Mine never ever made it into the house this year! :)
Known as the “Winter Grape” of old Italy. Farmers would hang the fruit-covered vines and the fruit would stay fresh well into the winter. They dry perfectly and resemble little “Roma” tomatoes. Dates back to the early 1900's. This tomato has a strong tomato flavour and lasts really well after picking.  
 
 
Black Sea Man - Black slicer tomato.
Not impressed with this one this year. Was a huge bust! So am not sure whether I will grow it again next year?
Got very few fruits on the vine!  They are tasty tomatoes but got so few of them and late to ripen, that am not sure that I want to grow it again next year.
 
Photo by Caroline Wilson of 'My Garden Of Eating' on Facebook
 
Siberian Red - A red slicer tomato.  
This is what Caroline says about this tomato ..
Favourite Tomato of the Year #2- Red Siberian
Determinate tomato. a small salad tomato that is sweet and very prolific but remains a small contained bush. Fairly early but not as early as advertised-Maybe it's just my yard. Grown from last years saved seeds and would grow again.
 
My comments
I grew this last year also and found it to be a good, hardy, reliable, stand by tomato that produces slicer tomatoes for salads and fresh eating. They are a nice tasting early tomato, a great stand by tomato to grow that will produce early tomatoes well and keep you in stock until your beefsteaks and other heirlooms kick into gear!
 
 
Photo from Caroline Wilson of the page 'My Garden of Eating' on Facebook.

 
Costoluto Genovese - A red beefsteak tomato.
Here are Caroline's comments about this fabulous tomato ...  
Favourite tomatoes of the year-#1 Costuluto Genovese- This was my last years favourite and is my favourite again. Very Heavy yields, early ripening, and delicious meaty tomatoes. It's hard to say enough good things about them. They were the first tomato to ripen, even earlier than the cherry tomatoes and Siberian short season varieties and all of my plants have somewhere between 40-60 tomatoes per plant...Wow!!

My comments..
Caroline grows this particular tomato better than anyone I know! Hers are simply amazing!
She has tons of fruit, vines are simply loaded with goodies, and she has little to no issues with cat-facing, BER, or other fruit or foliage issues. 
These beefy tomatoes are ribbed, pretty to look at, and super tasty. 
Caroline mulches her tomatoes with leaf mould and feeds with compost tea. 
 
These are my San Marzano's.
 
San Marzano Lungo 2 - A red paste tomato
The traditional Italian paste Roma style paste tomato.
This tomato fruited really well for me, clusters of these gorgeous, elongated, funky shaped paste tomatoes. Although paste tomatoes are known for BER, I did not have any issues with these tomatoes. Not one issue!  
They are meaty, almost grainy in texture, not the best for fresh eating taste wise, but super great for pastes and sauces. This is the ultimate, traditional paste tomato and I will grow it again and again.
 
This is NOT a hybrid!  Do not be thrown off by the number two at the end.
Is an heirloom tomato, but is a newer selection of the San Marzano tomato seeds. My seeds are from Baker's Creek.
Here is the info on San Marzano's for those who wonder why the difference in names...
 
 
Caroline's San Marzano tomatoes ripening on the vine
From my friend Caroline in Ladysmith, BC 


 
This photo from greensandjeans.blogspot.com
 
Purple Calabash - A purple beefsteak tomato
This photo is not of mine but these look pretty near exactly like my Calabashes were looking the day we moved. They are not nearly as large as I expected for a beefsteak variety. 
I had no issues with foliage, all was healthy. However, there was not a lot of fruit on the vine and I did remove three tomatoes with fairly severe cat-facing.
Hoping to get feedback about this one from my peeps on FB, as not sure I will want to grow it again. I will usually grow my tomatoes two years in a row, just to see if it performs better in one of the years, to make sure it is not a fluke of bad luck. Maybe this one needs to be grown in the greenhouse or under better shelter? Or in a pot? If it does not do well for two years running, then it is a miss. Thinking I will try it one more time! Is certainly an interesting addition to the salad platter!
 
 
Other Tomato Varieties That I Grew This Year and A Few Words About Them ...
 
Wapsipinicon Peach - This small, yellow, cherry tomato is a great producer of cute little fuzzy tomatoes that taste terrific! Will be on my grow it list next year, for sure. The taste is sweet and fruity yet tomato-ey and so delish! LOVE this one.
 
Taxi - A lovely, tasty, early yellow slicer tomato. Did not produce loads of fruit but was very early and very tasty. Worth growing again. A determinate that behaved nicely in it's cage.
 
Green Doctors - A small, green, cherry tomato. Was just 'meh' in flavour, though it did produce really well. It would add a pretty contrast if one were making a salad of cherry tomatoes, but otherwise, I think it was a bit of a miss.
 
Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomato - This green heirloom beefsteak has a great following, but I thought it was a bit of a bust. The flavour was nothing spectacular and production was low plus slow. If you want a green tomato that produces really well and tastes spectacular, stick with Green Zebra!
 
For more heirloom tomato reviews, please see Tanja's Top Twelve Tomatoes 2012 as last years tomatoes continue to be on my 'all time favourites' grow list.  

Sunday, 15 September 2013

How to Grow Really Great Garlic!

 
Here we are at prime time garlic planting time. One of my favourite times of the year! Garlic is my favourite crop to grow, next to tomatoes, of course ;)
 
If you have not yet amended your soil, fear not, is not too late.... yet.
Make your amendments now, about 2 to 3 weeks prior to planting. A well balanced, healthy soil is crucial to growing great garlic.
 
I will soon have the organically grown seed garlic for sale here at the new homestead, despite the fact that there is no greenhouse set up, as of yet....
 
Will have on offer ... Italian Red, German, Yugoslavian, Majestic, and limited amounts of Red Russian and Northern Quebec.    
 
Info about these varieties can be found on my wee web page.. http://nittygrittygreenhouse.jimdo.com/garlic/
 
Here again is my easy guide to planting and growing garlic ....
 


  How To Grow Really Great Garlic...

- Add amendments to your existing beds about 2 weeks before planting ... compost, manure, fish meal, alfalfa, and rock phosphates are all good amendments.

- Beds should be well draining and be in full sun!

- Plant anywhere from mid-Sept to end October

- Crack the garlic, separating the cloves gently from the hard middle part. Plant only the largest cloves, use the smaller ones for cooking. Leave the husks on the cloves! Do not crack more than 24 hours before planting.   

- Optional Step fungicide/strengthener recipe. Soak your cloves for 2 hours before planting, in a solution of warm water, 1 tbsp of baking soda and 1 tbsp of fish fertiliser or liquid seaweed. Though my soaked garlic seemed to grow bigger, better and faster green tops last year than those not soaked in this solution, there was actually little difference in the size of bulbs! However, this is a good step to take if you are not sure about the source of your garlic, or are worried about mold spores.

- Plant the cloves with the pointy end up, about 3 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Plant in either rows or blocks, with the rows about 8 inches apart. If you grow them closer together you will get smaller bulbs and cloves, though more of them.

- Water in beginning, once a week or two, till the fall rains begin. Then water again in spring, as needed, once or twice a week.

- Cover with 4 to 6 inches of straw for added frost protection, if needed. Especially in areas with hard spring frosts or heaving.

What To Do In Spring

- A foliar feed of liquid seaweed or liquid kelp a couple of time during the spring growing season is very beneficial, adds an extra boost of nutrients for larger bulbs.

- Harvest scapes in June. Removing them will help the bulbs size up and they also taste delicious!  

- Stop or slow down on watering towards the end of June as the stalks begin to yellow a bit.

- Once the stalks have dried/yellowed about half way up the stalks, or up to about 3 leaves... you can gently pull the garlic from the ground.

- Place the garlic, stalks and all, in the shade to cure for several weeks. Do not leave in the sun, or they will cook and spoil. You can begin to use the garlic in your cooking at any time, this curing period is just to ensure that they store better/longer.
- Rub the soil off of the bulbs. I use garden gloves (the ones with a bit of rubber on the palms are awesome) which makes this job a snap. The bulbs can also be hosed down if they are really dirty, but make sure to lay them out in a single layer to dry and cure, reventing rot and mould. 
The sandier your soil, the cleaner the bulbs will be. If you have heavy clay, add lots of organic material to the bed in fall before planting.   

- When dry and cured, two weeks or more, remove the stalks and the roots from the garlic. Cool, store and share as needed. The larger bulbs can be saved for the next year's crop!

 

Monday, 9 September 2013

September Ramblings & Garden To-Do's

- Shop for spring flowering bulbs!
Want a garden full of tulips in spring? A border of stunning daffodils? Alliums towering over your grape hyacinths?
Now is the time to buy and plant all those fabulous spring flowers!



Deer resistant bulbs to plants for colour in spring are ...
Alliums
Narcissus of all kinds, daffodils
Muscari ( grape hyacinths)
Scilla (squill)
Crocus
Pushckinia
Frittilaria
Chinodoxa (Glory of The Snow)
Galanthus (snowdrops)
 

- Plant up your spring planter now, too, with those bulbs!
Layer some daffs, tulips, and crocus in pots for early colour on your stoop come spring!

- In the yard, plant bulbs in clumps of 3 or 5, or in large drifts of blooms. Do not do single rows of bulbs, or you will have that soldiers-on-parade look in spring.

 


- Shop for garlic and get your bed ready for the cloves to go in towards the end of the month!

See this (and other) of my blog posts for how to prepare your bed and how to plant your garlic for the best results!
http://thenittygrittypotager.blogspot.ca/2012/10/2012-garlic-planting.html

http://thenittygrittypotager.blogspot.ca/2012/09/oops-sorry-all.html

 


- Lift and divide perennials that have over-grown their spots or need a new home.

- Feed your lawn!


Now is the time to feed your lawn to keep it happy and healthy!
Over seed any patchy lawns, aerate, and power rake or de-thatch old lawns. 

What to plant in your beds now  ...

Veggies from seed...
Spinach
Lettuce
Turnips
Parsley
Dill
Radishes
Cilantro

From transplants ...
Herbs
Kale
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Cabbage
Lettuce
Onions

Flowers from seed to plant now for blooms in spring ..
Snapdragons
Sweet Peas
Violas
Pansies
Sweet Alyssum
Hollyhocks
Foxglove
Poppies

- Prepare your beds for a cover crop to add nitrogen and prevent leaching and erosion.

- Harvest your herbs for use all winter!

Powdery Mildew and what to do about it ...

Powdery mildew is often rampant at this time of year. This is what I recommend that you do about it... nothing!
Let me clarify that ...
If you get powdery mildew early in the year, I would fight it or throw away the plant.
This time of year, most plants are either nearly finished their life cycles or are ready to lose their foliage anyways.

If you get it on your roses, lilacs, etc... perennials with smooth leaves ... , spray with a 10 percent milk solution. (9 parts water to 1 part skin milk). Spray to a drip every two or three days for two weeks. It will be gone. Or wait till they lose their foliage and clean up the fallen leaves.
If you get it on your cukes or squashes, I would not bother too much. The plants are at the end of their life cycle anyways.
Just pinch off up any really bad leaves.
You can try the milk spray to prolong them till they  have finished with their crop.
I have also read that the powdery mildew is unable to spread on wet foliage ( I know that this seems counter intuitive, but at this stage, do you really have much to lose? ) Therefore, if you spray down the leaves to a really good drench every two or three days, the mildew in unable to spread. Worth a try to keep the plant going just long enough to harvest those last cukes or those pumpkins.

- Change your tired annual baskets and planters into lovely displays for fall.
Whether you use flowers, or gourds, or scarecrows, or pumpkins, corn stalks, etc.. time to switch things up and make them fresh again.
Fall mums add a huge colour boost and add super curb appeal.


Baskets can also be vamped up for autumn! 



- Lift potatoes, if you have not already done so. They will need to set up and cure so you need to place them out somewhere in the dark to get a good skin on them.

- Remove any yucky, buggy lower leaves on cabbages, and then spray with insecticidal soap.

Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage

Happy Fall Gardening!