The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

The garden and autumn is more fun, less work: There are many reasons why gardening is more fun and less work in the season of autumn. The less humid temperatures, fewer insect pests, less weed population, not as many pop up thunderstorms, more comfort and less heat from the sun’s rays. The sun doesn’t quickly dry the soil which makes conditions ideal for all of the upcoming cool weather vegetables.

Keeping the autumn garden plot productive all the way into spring: The cool weather vegetable crops of autumn can extend all the way into spring with a bit of protection in the form of crushed leaf mulch and insulation from a layer of hilled up soil around the roots of cool weather crops.

The choice of autumn vegetable crops is abundant! There is definitely not a shortage of cool weather vegetables to winter garden plant or set out in the autumn and winter garden. Here is a long list of that can be started in the autumn garden: red, white, and yellow onion sets; cabbage, broccoli and collard plants; turnips, mixed greens, spinach, kale, mustard, lettuce and rape.

September brings beautiful sunset: Tomorrow begins the month of September and most likely cooler nights, shorter days and the makings of colorful sunsets. As the sun sets earlier each evening, the colors on the horizon will be red, yellow and orange as it goes down. A small nip will be in the air as the month progresses towards autumn’s first day on September 21, 2017.

Wet dew will stick to the mower blades, weed eater and everything else: The dew at this time of late summer hangs around all morning and it has certain stickiness about it. It will certainly make mowing and trimming messy, so please wait for the sun to dry it up even if you have to wait until afternoon. The dew laden grass also sticks to clothes and shoes and can make another mess when tracked into the house. Sticky, wet dew also piles up on the lawn making another mess.

Siberian kale is a good choice for cool weather gardens: Siberian kale is dark green, curly, sweet, and a tough vegetable through autumn and all the way in the spring. An ounce cost about two dollars and two ounces will plan a 50 foot row. When it develops about two weeks after planting, apply liquid fertilizer. A month after planting apply a layer of crushed leaf mulch after hilling a layer of soil on each side of the row that has been side dressed with 10-10-10 pelletized fertilizer. Water using the water wand on “shower” mode. Continue to do this until before the frost arrives.

This is the season for the cabbage collared: This eastern North Carolina favorite heading collard is now popular here in the Piedmont North Carolina. They perform well in autumn

and winter. Bonnie Plant Farms distributes them and six and nine packs. Allow about two feet between each plant to allow for mulch and crushed leaves around every plant. About two weeks after planting, apply 10-10-10 pelletized fertilizer on each side of the collard plants and the hill the soil on each side for added support and protection from winds.

Time to purchase the bulbs a fall: Next month will be the time to set out the bulbs for spring. Most seed stores, hardware’s and home improvement warehouses now have bulbs in stock. You can choose from hyacinths, jonquils, daffodils and crocus. Buy a bag of bulb booster or bone meal to apply around the soil when planting bulbs. Another handy item is a heavy bulb planter to make planting easier.

Filling late summer annual containers with colorful pansies: the tough flowers of pansy plants are now appearing and six and nine packs. As summer annuals play their way down, you can replace them with pansies that will endure all the way into spring. They come in colors of yellow, white, green, purple, lavender, wine, burgundy, tan, and pink. You can buy a bag of pansy booster mix to get pansies off to a quick start.

Ornamental cabbage and kale will herald autumn’s arrival: These ornamentals come in colors of cream, yellow, mint green, wine and pink. They can be planted in containers where summer annuals were. Set containers toward rear of the porch to protect them during the cold of early winter.

Seed tapes for autumn garden offered by Park Seed: A great way, and also an easy way to plant seed in autumn’s garden plot and especially raised beds is to use convenient seed tapes. The strips come in 5 foot lengths and have three strips per pack. Seed are spaced in the tape so all you have to do is dig a furrow and place the tape in it and cover it with soil. After they sprout, apply liquid fertilizer every 10 days. You can sow types of lettuce, beets, carrots, radish, spinach, kale, turnips and bunching onions. The tapes are super because you can place in the row, water with the water wind industry mowed before covering.

Keeping late, late tomato plants well-watered: By now, the seed of tomatoes sown from seed in late July should already be transplanted in the garden plot and on their journey to producing some red tomatoes and a lot of green tomatoes to be picked before first frost and stored to ripen inside the home or basement so that you can enjoy tomatoes all the way until Thanksgiving. Early September can be hot so water the late tomatoes often. The summer tomatoes finish their harvest cycle, remove their cages and place them on the row of late, late tomatoes.

Ray Baird