The little rain we had filled up some of my rain barrels which had stood empty for weeks. Nice to have nature water the whole garden for you although it doesn’t last very long. Back to watering again.
It is getting chilly in the early morning. Sunday morning, the thermometer registered five degrees Celsius. Some of the figs are softening a bit so there is still a good chance that I might have a few that will ripen this year.
This year I am cleaning up the garden early. I always wait hoping for a longer harvest time and then I get caught in the cold and rainy days and early frost. I already started getting some beds ready for next spring. The next thing to do will be to plant garlic. I plant my garlic at the end of September or early October. Fall planting is recommended for most gardeners. Garlic roots develop during the fall and winter—before the ground freezes—and by early spring, they start producing foliage. The aim is to allow a long enough period before the ground freezes for the plant to develop good roots, but not enough time for it to form top growth before freezing temperatures set in. Just mulch the bed.
Squash: Winter squash will be ready for harvest when the skin is extremely hard, about 80 to 115 days after planting depending upon variety. Delay the harvest of winter squash until just before the first hard frost. A light frost or two will change starch to sugar and enhance flavour. Cut winter squash from the vine leaving a 2inch (5cm) stem on the squash. Allow it to cure in the sun for a week or more, then store in a cool, dry place over the winter.
Pumpkin: Harvest pumpkins when the leaves die and the fruit becomes a rich orange, about four months after sowing; the sheen of the skin will have faded. For storing, cut pumpkins from the vine at full maturity just before the first fall frosts. Cut pumpkins from the vine with pruning shears, leaving about 3 inches (7cm) of stem on the fruit; pumpkins decay quickly if the stems are broken rather than cut. After harvesting, set pumpkins in the sun for one to two weeks to harden the outer skin, then store them in a cool dry place.
Bring your plants indoors before the first frost. Check your geraniums closely for signs of insects or disease. Dig and pot up healthy plants with good potting soil and prune them back by about half their size. It may seem harsh, but it will help them adjust in the long run. Give them a good dose of water when you first bring them in, then allow the soil to dry out between watering. Geraniums seem to like a little drought stress; it keeps them blooming more frequently. Keep an eye out for the usual indoor pests like aphids, spider mites and fungus gnats or scales. I will treat mine with insecticidal soap. If your geranium is happy, it will continue to grow and bloom, although not as well as it does outdoors in summer. If it looks like it’s struggling to stay alive, consider letting it go dormant until spring. A cool, unheated basement is ideal for storing dormant geraniums. And this is one time when a slightly damp basement is a plus. You want a storage spot where the geraniums will stay cold, but above freezing, where they’ll remain in the dark and where they won’t dry out completely.
Still time to transplant peonies, which need a sunny location. They will bloom in medium soil but respond to well-prepared soil. Prepare the holes in advance and if possible in a new location. The lower 12 inches (30 cm) of the hole should be filled with friable soil well mixed with perfectly rotted manure or compost. Bone meal in the hole will benefit the roots later when they can reach into it. Tramp this layer of soil well and soak it several days before planting. Prepare the top soil with more compost and good soil. Bury the crown one inch (2.5 cm). Deeper might not bloom.
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