Finally the cooler days and nights are here. Every year I promise myself that my garden will be put to bed before the snow arrives. This year I started early and some of the beds are already cleaned up and ready for spring. The fact that I have had enough of all the heat and the watering might have helped a bit.
Our yard is not flat and it makes it hard sometimes to water. The water is not absorbed enough so I have been mulching with grass clippings all summer and it seems to help. In order to make it more efficient, some plants are being moved. I tried to transplant some in large pots and sink the pots in the banks. This way I can apply the water to the pots and it sinks slowly right down to the roots. I can see the difference already in them.
I think that it should be an advantage in the spring as some plants can be started early and kept a bit longer in the greenhouse without having to transplant again. Then when the time is right, the pots can be put in the ground without disturbing the roots again.
At the end of July, some of the peas I was drying on the vines for seed saving fell on the ground as I was picking the pods. Some of them germinated and started growing. I transplanted them carefully along the trellis and last Sunday, I picked some fresh pods. Next year, I will plant a second crop towards the end of July and should harvest them in the fall. Sometimes instead of pulling the vines out of the ground, they can be cut to the first nodes and will send shoots again. The same thing can be done for bush beans. After the first harvest, cut down but leave the bottom stems intact and you can get another crop. The plant will grow new stems and leaves and will bloom and produce again.
For many years I have been growing “Long Keeper” tomatoes. They are orange-red, and ripen from the inside out. Usually, you pick them late September or before the very cold nights and leave them in the basement or wherever you have a cool room that does not freeze. As you need them, just bring a few to the kitchen and they will finish ripening. After picking in October one year, I used the last of them on May 1. The only problem with them this year is that they are almost all ripe already due to the early heat of the summer. I will store them and see what happens. Even the large heirloom tomatoes I grew this year that are supposed to ripen in 80 to 90 days were ready in mid-August.
Some of the trees are starting to lose their leaves already. Some of them have been stressed by the heat and the dry weather we had. Make sure you water your trees and shrubs deeply as we are entering fall. Maybe we will have lots of rain in the next few weeks but the ground is so dry that it will need more than a few buckets to prepare them for winter.
With fresh grass clippings and the shredding from my garden plants and kitchen scraps, my compost heated to 150 degrees F within two days. This is not a little pile but averages about 25 to 30 gallons of composting material. I wrote this in the summer and you will read it in the fall.
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Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan and member of Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.