Fall is here! Although the alternating rain and sunshine is making the season feel more like early Spring. With the cooler weather the garden can take on some drastic changes, but rest assured, the season isn’t over yet. Whether you’re planning for next year and need Bulbs and Shrubs, or want to extend this season with Cabbage, Kale and Pansies, we got what you need.
The employee garden is winding down. We’ve been harvesting tomatoes, peppers and squash, and have our eyes on a little Sugar Baby watermelon that’s going to be ready any day now. So if you have a veggie question, or just wanna take a peek at our garden, come on in! The cooler weather will soon force some immature harvesting, so keep watching that nighttime temperature.
When are my veggies ready to eat? Many veggies can be confusing when trying to interpret when the best time for harvesting is. Tomatoes, summer squash and peppers seem to be the easiest to determine, they all either change color when ready (tomatoes and peppers) or are best when tender or moderate sized (summer squash).
Other vegetables are harder to deduce when ready. Watermelon, corn and winter squash all are trickier to determine. With a watermelon, harvesting time can be crucial as watermelon do not ripen after harvest. They will get softer, but never sweeter. So be careful with harvesting, there are a couple of tricks to finding out when watermelons are ripe. Tapping on the rind of the watermelon should produce a dull, hollow “thunk”. Also the bottom of the melon, where it sits on the ground, should be a yellow to yellow-white color. Another indicator is when the stem attached to the watermelon begins to wither and dry-up.
Harvesting corn is also troublesome, the kernels have to be just right, or else the sugars in corn begin to convert to starches. Try feeling for the top of the ear when the silk has begun to dry-up, when ready to harvest a mature corn ear will be filled out at the top and feel more rounded, an immature ear will not have kernels at the top yet, and the tip of the ear feels pointed.
Winter squashes such as, Butternut, Acorn, Delicata, or Spaghetti can be kept for storage longer than most vegetables, as long as they are kept cool (between 50°-55°F), and dry. September to October is harvesting time for winter squash, the fruits are ready to harvest when the color has reached a deep, solid consistency and the rind becomes hard. After harvesting, cure fruit by letting them sit for 10-20 days at room temperature (70°F), then store in single rows, try not to let fruits touch to prevent mold.
Racing Jack Frost
With the onset of Fall weather it’s going to be 1-2-3-GO! in the race against the frost. Nighttime temperatures are dropping quickly, so keep an eye on the thermometer and a basket ready to collect, just in case. Veggies picked green can still be ripened indoors, let’s take a look at last years September Newsletter for Art’s instructions for tomatoes and pumpkins:
“Tomatoes will ripen while being placed in a cool, dry, dark place (not touching each other). The warmer the room the quicker they are going to ripen. You can even go as far as wrapping them in newspaper. When you open them up it's like Christmas. I have even heard of placing them upside down on the counter with their stems off. They are many ways to do it just make sure that you save as much of your bounty as possible. They aren't going to taste as good as off the vine, but they are definitely going to taste better than store bought.
My pumpkin is as green as can be so I researched how to ripen my pumpkin. You need to cut the vine leaving at least 4 inches to keep it from rotting on the top. Then clean the pumpkin and let it sit in a warm dry spot. Make sure that [they] stay dry because mold and rot are the enemy. You may need to rotate once one side starts to turn orange.”
Retro Petal Pushing Oct 2009
Fall is here. Time to plant pansies, violas, asters, mums, cabbage, and kale and don't forget your bulbs for spring. When planted in the fall pansies and violas will come back in the spring when they receive the right amount of moisture. When planted with bulbs you have the recipe for spring fun.
Cabbage and kale are a great fall plants for the garden. They can take the cold up to 5 degrees which should take you up to Thanksgiving at least. The colder it gets the more intense their colors get. They are a great stand alone plant. Plant them in a block or mix and match. This duo is a great accent plant for pansies, violas, mums, and asters. Don't be afraid to put them into your fall display, they go great with hay.
Bulbs are in the store again. There is nothing like the show that bulbs put out in the spring. Bulbs fill in that gap when everything is bare and we need a little color for spring. Depending on the bulb the show is short but oh so sweet. A must for every yard, give them a try this fall.
Winter Survival Guide
Here is our winter survival guide. Just a couple of tips to help keep your plants healthy this winter.
Mid-October to December: Once a week (Until the first real winter storm)
December-March: If no precipitation, Once a month
Mid March to Mid April: If no precipitation, Once a week
Be aware! Don't be fooled by the winter storm! 1"-3" of snow is not enough to keep plants moist. Keep up with watering to ensure best chances for survival. Also Doney Park residents, be aware of snow that gets blown away and doesn't have time to sink into the ground.
Apply Winterizer fertilizer in November and January to promote a strong and vigorous root system (weather permitting). For the natural gardener we carry Yum Yum Winterizer.
Pests and Fungi
Dormant Spray: Apply to trees, shrubs and perennials to kill pests and their eggs before they winter over in your garden.
Lime Sulfur Spray:
Apply to trees, shrubs and perennials to eliminate the spores of troublesome fungi.
If you have a problem with bugs or fungi the winter is a good time to try and break the cycle. With these two steps you can take preventative action.