Friday, 5 September 2014

September Garden Ramblings & Harvest

A summer of hot and sunny days with no rainfall to speak of came to an end with rains and cloudy grey days on the Labour Day week-end. So grateful ; )

However, beware and be aware.. for with the rains tends to come fungal diseases, and the dreaded tomato blight, as well. Remove any yellowing bottom leaves right away, or spotty leaves, anything that looks suspect, as this may keep the wolf from your door.

Sadly, you cannot stop late blight once you have it, but you may be able to keep it from spreading to the rest of your tomatoes by quickly removing the diseased plant.


Another issue that may pop up now that we have had some rain followed by sunshine, is splitting fruit (this applies to cabbages, too!) Lots of water followed by sunshine means great growth...  and sometimes they grow faster than their skins can keep up with. Is not a bad thing, necessarily, but they will not store as long or well. 

This is a good time to top your tomato plants (snip the ends off after the topmost cluster of tomatoes) and remove all excess foliage. I also take off any small tomatoes and blossoms, as they will not have time enough to mature with out shorter, cooler days. Doing this allows the plant to put all it's energy into maturing and ripening those last green fruits.  

In the greenhouse, all the tomatoes have all been pruned back to allow the last fruits to mature on the vine. Do this outdoors, as well. (Nope, these are not super sturdy tomatoes, they are growing up strings ; )

Green Shoulders - The top of the ripe tomato stays green and hard, does not ripen or soften with time.
Green shoulders are caused by the higher than average temperatures that we have had this summer, and especially by too much sunshine/heat right on the fruit itself.
Though tomatoes certainly enjoy heat and sunshine, they prefer it to be a bit more moderate than this summer has been Shade cloth in the greenhouse would have helped me out a lot!

If you had a less than stellar year with your tomatoes, you are not alone. Due to the higher than normal temps and the early start with said heat, most everyone on the coast has experienced less tomato production than in other years (less flowers or sterile flowers), more blossom end rot (BER) and and also green shoulders on the mature fruits. 

Plum jelly, pickled beets and crock pickles

What to do this month...

With your veggies and herbs...
- Harvest! Freeze, can, jam, process everything you can for fresh goodies all winter long.
- Cut and save herbs to dry and store for winter..  this year, I harvested mint, lemon balm, oregano, thyme and the coriander seeds from my bolted cilantro. 
- Save seeds from any veggies that you want to carry over for next year .. your favourite tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots ... Do not save your squash seeds if you grew more than one variety as they may have cross pollinated with each other, which leads into the so-called Franken-squashes. They do not always work out into tasty treats.
- When some of your onion tops start to fold down, push down all the others, too. Leave for a week and then lift the onions from the ground. Lay out to cure in shady, well ventilated area.

 Rose hips

With your flowers and garden beds ... 
- Stop dead heading and feeding roses this month so that they start to make hips and realise it is time to begin shutting down for winter.
- Lift gladioli corms, trim back the stems to a few inches long, clean off the soil, place in a paper bag or lay our on newspaper in a dry, well-ventilated, shady spot to dry. I like to use the carport or the furnace room. Do not lay out on bare concrete, use newsprint underneath. After 2 or 3 weeks, trim back the rest of the tops, cut off roots, and rub off the small corms. they can also be stored for planting next year. Leave dahlias till next month.     
- Compost your faded summer planters, baskets, pots, and bedding plants.
- Begin to clean up your gardens from spent cucumber vines, faded blooms, etc.. toss into compost bin or curb side garden pick up, if you are lucky enough to have it!

What to plant this time of year... 

- Cool weather crops from transplants....kale, lettuce, leeks, scallions, oriental greens ..
- From seed, only fast growers can be started from seed now like lettuce and radishes, perhaps turnips, too, if you are really fast. Broad beans can be sown soon as the weather cools further. Herbs can be sown now for newlings in spring.. lavender, chives, chervil...
- Toss in your Sweet Pea and Calendula seeds this month for earlier blooms in spring.

- Strawberries -Clean up the dead foliage, remove extra runners, and plant baby plants/runners into the spots where you want them to grow. Do not cut from the mother plant till rooted in.

Plant garlic!
Garlic is planted between mid September and late October here on the island. I prefer to do mine at the end of September or first week of October.
Prep your garden bed now so that you are ready to plant .. pull weeds, add manure or compost, plus bloodmeal and bonemeal, if needed.
For planting how-to's see HERE!

Fall planters!

Compost your tired looking summer baskets and planters, pop in some glorious fall coloured blooms in gold, red and orange.

Bulbs! Spring flowering bulbs of all kinds!
- If you want lovely waving beds of daffodils, bright pots of tulips, or stately alliums blooming in spring, buy the bulbs now and plant anytime before the November rains begin. Plant daffodils right away as they take longer to root in.

Formal mass planting of paperwhites by

Think Ahead!
Christmas is only15 weeks away!
Start your indoor paper whites, amaryllis and hyacinths now for Christmas blooms.

Informal mason jar planting of paperwhites byt
Can also use hyacinths. 

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Wondering what to plant in that empty garlic bed or in those empty pockets where the broccoli bolted? Concerned that there may not be ...