~ October 1, 2008 ~
Chicken Soup For The Garden...
The time has come. Leaves have started their downward spiral from limb to ground.
They seem to come in thousands and as I look up into the trees there are still many
thousands yet to come. Raking becomes a full time job for many of us this time of
year. For most of us a few leaves on the lawn is no big deal. To others they
are just not allowed. Guess which category I fall under? If you guessed the one
where the leaves are not allowed you guessed correctly. Don't get me wrong, they
certainly have their purpose. They provide beautiful color to the landscape for three
full seasons and provide shade to us while we labor in our gardens. However they become
very labor intensive this time of year which I dread. Isn't there already enough to
do? One more thing to add to the list.
It is a blustery day and the feel of fall is hanging around. I feel like fixing
a pot of chicken noodle soup. Of course it is not cold enough for that yet but
I am sure that the time will arrive sooner than I would like. In our house
cooler weather means warmer food, comfort food. Pot roast, beef stroganoff,
heavy creamed soups and spaghetti. Just like switching plants out in the
garden there are changes to be made in the kitchen. Something I always look
TLC For Tender Turf...
Whether you've just overseeded or have put grass seed down to establish a new
lawn you need to keep it wet. This is especially true as the new young blades shoot
forth from the soil. This is when the grass is most vulnerable. If it dries out, it
dies. No need to soak it. Just keep it moist with a few minutes from your hose
spray nozzle or sprinkler several times a day.
Storing Summer Bulbs...
It's time to start thinking about storing bulbs that will not survive Kansas
City winters. The bulbs of gladiolus, caladium, dahlia, tuberous begonia,
calla lily, and cannas need to be dug and stored so they can be planted next year.
All of these plants should be dug after frost has browned the foliage.
Allow them to dry for about a week in a shady, well-ventilated site, such as a
garage or tool shed. Remove excess soil and pack them in peat moss, vermiculite or
perlite. Make sure the bulbs don't touch, so that if one decays the rot doesn't
spread to its neighbors. Dusting them with fungicide before storage will help
prevent them from rotting as well.
Caladium should be stored between 50° and 60°F. The rest of the bulbs mentioned
should be stored near 40°F.
If you are rescuing green tomatoes from a frost and plan to allow them to
finish ripening indoors, be sure to select fruits that have
changed color from the darker green of immature tomatoes to the
lighter color of the mature green stage. If picked before this
color break, the tomato will rot instead of ripen. You will be on
the safe side if you wait for a hint of red to appear.
Squash Harvest & Storage...
Make sure you harvest pumpkins and winter squash before they get hit by frost
Immediately after harvest, the fruit should undergo a ripening or curing process
to harden the shell. A curing period of about two weeks at 75° to 85°F with good
circulation is desirable. Storage should then be at 50° to 70°F with humidity
between 50 and 70 percent. Also, leaving a couple inches of stem will not only
provide a "handle" for jack-o-lanterns but will improve storage.
Light pruning of both needle and broadleaf evergreens is recommended in late
fall to encourage a strong framework to help the plant overcome any snow damage.
Simply remove any weak or crowded branches with a pair of clean sharp pruners.
Who's Sleeping In The Garden Bed?
Many disease-causing viruses overwinter in the roots of perennial weeds. Tomato
mosaic virus overwinters in the roots of ground cherry, horsenettle, jimson weed,
nightshade, and bittersweet; cucumber mosaic virus lives in the roots of milkweed,
catnip, and pokeweed; bean mosaic overwinters in white sweet clover roots; and
many cabbage diseases spread from wild members of the cole family. A good fall
cleanup is essential. Don't wait!
Time For Lime?...
If the results of a soil test suggest that your lawn or garden needs an application
of lime now is the time to do it. Never had a soil test before? Shame on you! Resolve
to get one done this month. We've posted
easy to follow instructions on the Savvygardener.com
"Autumn is marching on: even the scarecrows are wearing dead leaves."
~ Otsuyu Nakagawa