Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Re-purposed Perennials

When I received a call from a friend informing me that she was "downsizing" her backyard, I was there with shovel in hand.  Her yard is beautiful with a large variety of perennials.  
Fall is a good time to dig up and separate perennials, 30 to 45 days before the first frost.  You can also  separate the perennials in the spring before it gets hot.
 Divide the plants a day or two after it rains, or water well beforehand.  Try to pick a cool, overcast day to help keep the plants from drying out.  Dig around the plant to "lift" the root ball  or "slice" out sections with a shovel.  (I would like to say this part is pretty, but it is not.)  We filled up bags and boxes adding dirt to help protect the roots.  
 I filled the car up and drove the two hours back home.  Once home, I watered everything to keep the plants from drying out overnight.  
Ideally, you should replant asap in prepared planting areas.  (If unable, keep the roots covered with dirt and water to create mud. Keep the mixture wet until you are ready to plant.)  Replant to the same depth as the original.  Water well.  
Mulch the first winter to prevent heaving.

Day One....dig. dig. dig.....


Back seat

The bounty!

Day Two, plant, plant plant....

The end of day two!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness.  The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ... The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on."-  Robert Finch 

Monday, September 17, 2012


Simple refrigerator PICKLED BEETS

Wash beets and remove tops.

Select beets of equal size for even cooking or cut to size.  

Beets can be steamed or boiled for about 30 minutes, or roasted in foil at 350F for about 1 hour.

Cook until tender or when a fork can easily be inserted into the beet.

Rinse under cold water and remove skins.

Whip up the vinaigrette.

Slice beets to about 1/4" thickness.  

Place beets in glass container or jar and add the brine.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 day before serving.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Delicious Beets

The President and First Lady excluded beets from the White House garden in 2009.  A beet campaign soon fallowed along with the YouTube video "Give Beets a Chance, Mr President".  

Beets are cold tolerant and can survive a lite freeze.  They do well when temperatures are between 60-65F but can germinate with temperatures ranging from 40 to 90F. ( Ideal range is 50-85F)  Plant in early spring 4 weeks before the last spring frost and in late summer 10 weeks to 1 month before the killing frost.  Soak the seeds in warm water for several hours or overnight prior to planting.  This will soften the outer shell and speed up germination.  Sow seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep.  Several seedlings will emerge from one cluster seed.  Thin to 2-3 inches apart when seedlings are 2-3 inches tall (seedlings are eatable). 
 Beets are related to Swiss chard and spinach. 
Use floating row covers to protect from bugs.   

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cucumis Sativus

First cultivated in India, cucumbers have been around for over 3000 years.  They are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes pumpkins, squash, melons and gourds.  Among the earliest cultivated plants in the world, cucumbers are the fourth most widely cultivated fruit today (after tomatoes, cabbage, and onions).  Cucumbers are classified as either slicing, pickling or English (aka burpless)

Cucumbers are a fruit consisting of 90% water.  They are also a excellent source of vitamin k (21.3% per cup) and a good source of  the anti-oxidant vitamin C (4.8% per cup) along with anti-inflammatory properties.

Cucumbers need substantial growing space, however, you can save space by growing vertical. This also helps keep the fruit clean.  Cucumbers do not tolerate frost.  They thrive in hot weather and need plenty of water.  Diseases that may effect Cucurbits are Bacterial Wilt, Anthracnose, Angular Leaf Spot, powdery mildew, Mosaic, Alternaria Blight, and Late season Vine Callapse.  Fallow a program of integrated pest management (IPM) to manage and reduce diseases.

China is the leading producer of cucumbers (60%) with the US being fifth.

Monday, September 3, 2012


This past summer was hot, and my garden looks like, (should I dare say it?)...crap.  The high temperatures have taken their toll, stressing out the plants and decreasing yields.  Strong sun burns the foliage and fruits, increasing blossom end root and flower drop and decreasing pollination.  Cukes become more bitter, lettuces bolt or refuse to germinate all together, and plants suffer from water stress.  The high humidity has lead to increased garden diseases, particularly rust and powdery mildew.

I took a hard look at the garden and removed those plants that took the biggest hits. Gone are several squash plants, two groupings of pole beans, and a tomato plant.  This has left lots of open spaces.  So what's a girl to do?  Plant! 

As we approach late summer/ early fall, there is still time to have a productive garden.  To begin, you must know your first fall frost date.  In my area this is about 10/28.  Typically, this is not a hard freeze and is often fallowed by a period of seasonable weather.  With adequate protection, many plants can continue to grow and be harvested well into late fall, or when temps drop down to 20F.  Now, check your seed packet for the "number days to harvest/maturity".  Look for seeds that say "early" or "cold tolerant" and short season, cool temperature adapted crops.  Due to shorter days and cooler weather, add 14 more days to this number.  This is called the "fall factor".  (Add an additional 14 more days if you are going to replant frost-sensitive crops, such as corn, tomatoes, cukes, beans, squash etc.for an adequate harvest.)  Hardy crops such as greens benefit from the cooler weather often producing their best flavor and quality.

A fall garden is pleasurable and rewarding while giving your garden a second chance!