Shift Summer Plants to Fall

09/01/2012 | Ken Lain, mountain gardener Uncategorized, Vegetable Gardening

It is cool enough now that our gardens should shift from summer flowering plants that bloom only until Halloween to the fall varieties that will continue their bloom well past Thanksgiving. Fortunately, the first of the fall flowers were harvested this week, which is a big help to gardeners in planning this transition. The early crops of pansies, kale, snapdragons, and dusty millers are full enough for a good showing, and they really are beautiful this year. Also, there are about 1,000 mums just starting to crack color, but they need one more week at the farm to increase their flower bud size for maximum show.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

September is the month to harvest most mountain vegetables and herbs. Although summer rains have increased the harvest, with much rain comes the chance of blossom end rot. Watch fruits for black spots showing up where the blossoms were. The slightest calcium deficiency causes this phenomenon, but it is a problem that’s easy to correct.

To combat this rotting of the fruit and bring a more flavorful harvest, spritz plant foliage with ‘Rot Stop’. This is the most effective form of liquid calcium known and prevents future fruit damage. Spray problem plants once a week through September for production of clean fruits.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

If all those green tomatoes make your mouth water, but are frustratingly slow to ripen, get out the harvest basket. As I write this, baskets full of tomatoes are sitting on my kitchen counter waiting to be processed. If you are overwhelmed by the bounty from your garden, don’t forget the blessing that fresh fruits and vegetables are to our local food banks and soup kitchens. The produce usually is used the same day it is donated.

Here is a tasty recipe for an easy way to consume some of those extra tomatoes:
Ingredients – 1 split and toasted bagel, 2 tablespoons of cream cheese, 1 sliced tomato, fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper. (My mouth is watering just typing the ingredients.)
Spread the cream cheese on the bagel halves and then top with fresh tomato slices. Flavor to taste with salt and pepper topped with fresh basil leaves. Spicy oregano is a good alternative to the basil. This makes a perfect snack on a hot afternoon with a glass of freshly brewed sun tea. Yum!

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Weeds are taking over my gardens! Although summer monsoon rains have been frequent, deep, and good for the plants in the gardens, they also have nourished a bumper crop of weeds. As some of you know, I share a 30 second video of my gardens each day. This week’s feature was the strawberry patch used as a ground cover in our retention pond. In no time at all the video was mixed, uploaded to the YouTube channel, posted to the Watters Facebook page, and tweeted to the universe. To my horror, a 2-foot tall dandelion was standing in the middle of the bed right in the middle of the shot! By the time I realized I had framed a weed centerpiece, the video had been seen by over 327 fans! Ouch! Even the most experienced gardeners struggle with weeds. You can see it for yourself at .

One weed can be pulled by hand, a hoe can help clean out weeds from small spaces, but large areas of weeds need a more efficient way to control the invasion. Weed Beater Ultra is a fabulous new weed eliminator that is especially good for large areas. This weed killer wipes out all but the native grasses, leaving a meadow-like space. Not only is this weed killer more efficient than others, but it works in a fraction of the time than its glysophate cousins. Dandelions really do melt away by the end of the day, and it is very satisfying to see a weed lying over on its side on its way to elimination.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Garden Alert – Spittlebugs have landed and are doing damage on grapes, autumn sage, and Virginia creeper. White slimy globs ooze from the outer new growth of plants as this tiny brown bug sucks the life out of our gardens. Run a hand through the foliage and if it comes out slimed, there is a problem. Not only is it ugly in the garden, but it also is dangerous to plants.

Although any insecticide can kill spittlebugs, it’s difficult to get the bug killer through all that white slimy spittle. Here is what to do: First, spray the plant with ‘Spreader Sticker’, then follow with an application of my “Multi-Purpose Insect Spray”. Both agents may be combined for use from a pump-up sprayer. The Spreader Sticker eats through all the white oozing mass making way for the insect spray to do its job completely. Bugs are haven’t a chance against this 1-2 knockout punch.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

The season’s first fall garden class is this morning at 9:30 in Watters’ back greenhouse. The topic is “Fall ‘To-Do‘ List for a Healthy Yard”. The class is free and each person will get a copy of my ‘Fall Checklist’ for a healthier landscape.

Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.