The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

A message of snow in month of September – Next Tuesday will be Saint Michael’s Day and on his special day, it is said that if the mighty oaks are full of acorns, the fields and farms will be full of snow on Christmas Day and we can dream of a white Christmas. Could this come true? It could and it certainly did on Christmas Day 2010 when we received seven inches. The area in North Hampton County, the homeplace of my grandma, it snowed a total of 11 inches – she would have been happy because she loved snow. If it snows, what better time than Christmas Day!

Pruning and shaping evergreens in the month of September – A bit of old farm lore says that months at the end of the year with “R” in it are best times for trimming and pruning evergreens. The month of September is best because the temperatures are mild making it easier to get this job done. Evergreen shrubs such as azaleas can also be shaped now. When you trim, keep in mind in how your trimming will affect arrangements of Christmas lights on the evergreens and trim to allow decorating them.

Outside critters wanting a winter home – This is the season when crickets, stink bugs, hopping spiders, and other pests will make every effort to try to enter your home for a warm area to winter over. Prevent them from an entrance by spraying around doors and windows because even small ants may work their way inside. Spray around wood piles and stacks of fire. Spray around entrances once a week. For varmints like mice and squirrels and rats (heaven forbid!) don’t leave any pet food, scraps, or garbage outside or uncovered. This will prevent attracting critters or insects to your home.

Conserving energy as September temps get lower – The heating system in your home will be in operation for the next six or seven months. You can save on energy costs and make your heating system work with these conservative measures. One – clean or change heating system filters once each month. Two – open and close outside doors quickly. Three – set your thermostat on a uniform, comfortable setting that the family can live with and do not keep adjusting it. Four – keep all cabinet and closet doors closed; cold air comes from opened kitchen cabinet doors especially. Five – wear clothing with sleeves and even a long sleeved sweater for comfort. Six – keep drapes or curtains closed in rooms where no sun comes directly through the windows. Seven – use the oven to prepare meals and let that heat go to other rooms. Eight – educate kids to move in and out quickly when coming in and out of the house.

Preparing a wintergreen garden plot – The leaves will soon be falling and some are ready to fall even now. Do not let them blow away or go to waste. Blow or vacuum them up and place them between rows of onion sets, kale, mustard, turnips, collards, broccoli, and cabbage for warm and extra protection well into winter. Use crushed leaves to complete compost ingredients or to make a leaf mulch.

Using grass clippings also in the wintergreen garden plot – Grass clippings to heat up compost is a great addition to a compost pile or bin and grass clippings spread on a layer of crushed leaves between rows of cool weather vegetable crops will also warm up the leaves around the vegetables promoting even more warmth and protection.

Jackfrost is just a month from now – September nights are getting nippy and they send a subtle message that a frosty morn is about a month away. Keep checking the late crop of green tomatoes and give them one more drink of miracle Gro liquid tomato fertilizer for that last feeding of nutrients to make healthy tomatoes that are green for the harvest the night before a killing frost is predicted after the middle of October.

Keep a few furnace filters handy – September begins the heating season and we hope you have had your heating system checked out by a heating specialist. We believe an ounce of precaution before winter begins it worth more than a pound of cure and cold winter, and peace of mind is worth something too! You can help your heating system by changing the filter every month for better operations and also cleaner air. Check the size of your heating system filter inside the owners manual and use a permanent black marker to write it on the door of the unit. Purchase several filters and keep them near the unit so they will be ready when you need to change them.

Night of a beautiful harvest Moon – on Monday, September 24, we can enjoy a bright Harvest Moon rising in the east shortly after sunset adding color to early autumn days. The moon does not mean as much concerning the harvest as it did in our grandparents day when they did the harvest by day and also by the light of a Harvest Moon. Enjoy this pretty moon as it glows over fields in meadows in the Piedmont.

Ray Baird