A Gardener’s Diary: Fall is the time to think about spring

Fall is the time to start cleaning up the garden, but it's also a time to look towards spring by planting fall bulbs

Days are really getting shorter and when I take the dog for her walk at 6 a.m., it is barely getting daylight. We have been getting fantastic days lately but still too warm for me to work in the garden in the afternoon. Everything is ripening at once and there are not enough hours in the day to do everything. The blackberries are just about finished. I started pulling some of the cucumber plants. All the new blossoms on the tomato plants have been removed as any new fruits would not have time to ripen and would only take away energy from the plants.

My little shredder died on me last week and I didn’t cry. It was not the best design. It took so long to undo the hopper and you could only put one piece in at a time if you didn’t want it to choke to death. It would plug with anything damp like tomato plants and fresh stems, etc. The guy who designed this shredder never had a garden. We still use the old lawnmower for small stuff and I use the edger to chop the fresh plants. If you do it as you go, it works OK.

I was back at the Lumby Market last Saturday. The ride was nice early in the morning and only a few cars on the road at this time of the day. It was nice to see everyone again and I had a great welcome. I will be there until closing Oct. 12.

This is the time to plant the tulips and bulbs that will be blooming in the spring. Don’t forget to use bone meal for all your bulbs. They love it. I had many bulbs in pots and I have been making two new beds in the backyard so I can put my bulbs there. Some of them were mixed with perennials but since I never remember where I put them, I happened to slice a few when I worked the beds. If I don’t have enough room for all the bulbs in these beds, I will put some in pots and sink the pots in the ground. This way, when the flowers have faded, I can remove the pots and replace them with other plants.

Someone phoned me and asked about their tomatoes not doing well. Mine too had some problems. I found out that all tomatoes are not created equal and some are good for a colder climate and some will do good in a warmer temperature. We tend to think of tomatoes as the classic plants of summer, but most varieties suffer when daytime temperature stay above 32 C or nights don’t drop below 24. This will not kill the plants but will destroy the current crop of pollen on the flowers. The regular growth will resume as the days cool off a bit. Mine are back to normal now but it is a bit late in the season. I can always make green tomato pickles and there are lots of recipes using green tomatoes. Tomatoes should not be watered in the evening, as their leaves staying wet overnight can cause disease. No plants should have their leaves wet deliberately in the evening, especially disease-prone ones like tomatoes, roses and lilacs.

When all the plants are fading in the fall, it is nice to see some of them coming in full bloom like the sedum Autumn Joy and my big clump of Joe-pye weed. The sunflowers are also nice at this time of the year and the birds are busy harvesting.

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Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast and member of the Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club.