A Gardener’s Diary: The leaves are turning

Jocelyne Sewell begins the late-summer work of cleaning up her garden and enjoying its bounty

When it comes to gardening, the days are always too short but now I have started my race with time. The morning walk with the dog is almost in the dark and not much daylight left after supper to work outside. I am welcoming the cooler nights and the plants also have taken notice. The leaves are turning yellow on some and the growth is slowing down.

My potato trial in containers was a flop I might say. Maybe I was too late in putting them in. I had nice little ones but not enough to make it worthwhile. I also think that the containers might have been too shallow and I can always blame the weather.

I had lots of small Russian Blue and Fingerling but Russet Burbank were the biggest ones. Bintje and Yukon Gold gave me almost nothing. The Red Pontiacs were small but delicious. For the time and watering invested in this, I would have been better off to get some at the farmers’ market.

The yellow bush beans are doing great. I grew these in the tulip bed, being careful when transplanting them not to dig the bulbs up. I had left the dead stem in the bed so I knew where the tulips were. This has worked very well. They are planted just along the edge of the bed and it makes for an easy picking. These heirloom yellow wax beans —  Beurre de Rocquencourt — are from Stellar Seeds and I am very pleased with them. The package states “Slender 12cm long, golden beans on upright plants. Stringless, flavourful and prolific. Excellent fresh or frozen.” It is true in every way. I am saving seeds for next year.

With the heat of the summer, some of my tomatoes were earlier than the maturity date listed for their varieties. I had many large fruits between 375 g and 425 g. On my Kootenay Paste, the cluster of five tomatoes weighed 1.623 kg. I just topped off all the vines now as the new fruits would not ripen and all the plant energy can go to the ones already on the vines.

I had a lot of basil plants this year and all from my own seeds. I like to interplant them with the tomato and pepper plants. As I had a few left over, I decided to transplant them in a tub just a bit smaller than the 1/2 barrels. They are thriving under the Horse Chestnut tree. The growth is lush and the leaves are larger and greener than my other plants in full sun. They get some of the morning sun and some light shade in the afternoon.

My cucumbers and peas also did very well this year with only a few hours of sun. A lot of plants are doing just fine with some shade from the hot Okanagan sun. Sometimes when you have to change the regular way of doing things, you find better ways in the process.

For the first time, I have found a praying mantis in the garden. Mine was green and the next day, my neighbour came over to tell me that she had a green and a brown one in her yard. Their name stems from the way they hold up their stout front legs as if in prayer. They are beneficial to the garden.

With September started, so are garden club meetings. Okanagan Gardens and Roses resumes its meeting at the Schubert Centre on Monday at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome.

For more information: 250-558-4556.

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast, member of the Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club and gardening columnist for The Morning Star, appearing every other Wednesday.