Joy's Garden Patch

Join in the fun of the season with gardening tips and advice.

Autumn officially arrived last Friday. As of this Friday, today, we are a week into the new season and yet summer flowers in my yard are still blooming. It’s a profusion of yellow water lilies in the small pond; the Hungarian peppers are doing great, and my strawberry plants are still popping out juicy fruit. It’s crazy.

With all that going on, it’s tough to believe October is on the doorstep. Then again, temperatures have been in the 70s and 80s. I am glad for that bit, though, since it means there’s still time to get to doing. There is so much work to get done.

I also think about what was accomplished over the season and how it’s not getting easier. That just may be because I’m, or should I say “we” are not getting any younger.

I can remember having the energy needed to stay with a tough project until it was done. One time my mother, a.k.a. Oma Tike, and I decided to pull out oversized evergreens from in front of the house. We dug and watered repeatedly. That was supposed to make the bush easier to get out. Well, we dug and dug for hours and hours. Finally on Day Two, the roots were uncovered. This shrub had a huge tap root that went down to China and back again. That’s when we got out the lawn tractor.

We put chains at the base of the shrub and Oma Tike laid on the gas pedal. No, it didn’t come out easy and it didn’t come right away, but just as the tractor gears started to grind and whirr and the tires started to kick up dirt—POP! The evergreen was ripped out of the ground.

Oma Tike and the tractor shot forward at something like 80mph, propelled by the momentum. By the time she got to slowing down, she was almost at the creek on the other side of her property and we were both laughing so hard we were crying.

I don’t think I’m ready for something that tough now. Too many years have passed. But there are those impossibly big, overgrown shrubs in the front of my house. And they have to go. Maybe I will go see if I can borrow my neighbor’s tractor and maybe, just maybe, I can round up someone who might be game.

Note from the CT DEEP (formerly DEP): Help to identify one of the worst invasive plants in the state: the mile-a-minute vine. If you see it, report it before you pull it.

Chores for late September:

  • Edge the beds one more time before winter. It will help to keep the grass out and give you a head start on the spring chores.
  • Sharpen the blade on your mower one last time. It’ll come in handy for all the leaves you’ll need to mulch in a few weeks.
  • Drop the height of the mower down a bit. I think it makes bagging and mulching leaves easier work. The leaves don’t get tangled up in the higher grass. 
  • Keep pulling weeds. Let it go, and it’s a mess come spring.
  • Divide perennials. There’s still time.

Garden Journals: My first Christmas here at the house, my husband thoughtfully bought me a garden journal. It had lovely gardening words of wisdom at the bottom of every page, and above, it had a lot of space for logging down pertinent information. I dutifully recorded daily rain and sky conditions, temperatures, and sketches of gardens I wanted to create. I’m sorry to say the journal didn’t last long. My last entry, a couple of years later, was made in the month of May. It simply read: “Today we had a half-foot of snow.”

Regretfully, I never kept another journal; I wish I had though. That’s why I am pushing the idea today. I advocate it now because I’ve found that memory really is not enough. You just plain-old forget things— matters both big and small. You get fuzzy on nuggets of information like specific varieties of plants you like or dislike, the year of the prolific zucchini, how much rain fell in a particular season, and things like when your garden was overrun by one pest or another.

So if you haven’t kept a journal, go ahead and try it. Maybe the trick is not so much logging everything down each day, but to log something down once a week or so.

October 1-2, 2011 Bulbs for Breast Cancer at Natureworks, Northford

The 2nd annual event features free garden workshops and fun.

October 7-9, 2011 The Fall Home Show at the CT Convention Center is a wonderland for homeowners and includes all things Home, including landscaping, gardens, pavers, tree care and more.

From the Garden Bookbag
Oma Tike’s Pick
: “Great Garden Companions,” by Sally Jean Cunningham, Rodale Press

This lady takes after Oma Tike’s way of gardening. She not only grows flowers and plants all over the yard (not isolated to one section or area), but she also interplants with flowers and plants who make good company for each other. Chapters include attracting wildlife, using organic practices on pests and other problems; amending the soil and pest identification (which can be very handy). Not only a useful book, but a good read. Highly recommended.

Joy’s Pick: “How to Grow Food,” by Richard Gianfrancesco, Firefly Books

Whatever ideas you’ve been kicking around as to what to plant in your garden, this book probably has the answer for you. It offers specifics on specific veggies and salads, fruits and herbs. It goes beyond to tell you about the individual plant, and will also offer tips on how to grow: from the tools to containers to pruning to soil and pest concerns. Additionally, there are recipes for putting up your harvest, including how to make chutney, jams, jellies, and pickling and drying.


Gardening Words of Wisdom:
Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.  ~Author Unknown


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