September - What's in Kate's Garden?

In My Garden (Zone 5-6)

Kate Copsey
Kate has relocated many times giving her experience in gardening from sandy upstate New York to Georgia clay and many areas between. She currently gardens in Central New Jersey. Kate also hosts the popular radio show “America’s Home Grown Veggies” heard every Saturday on America’s Wb Radio.

The kids are all back to school and the days are slowly getting shorter which means that it is time for fall planting!  The summer was a bit of a lost cause when it came to heat with only a couple of days that topped 90 and many days below normal. The good news is that we have had a reasonably consistent rainfall over the summer so the garden has rarely needed watering.

The lower temperatures and late spring are the prime reasons that the main tomato crop was late this year. I didn’t start harvesting even the little guys until August, so the larger ones were a couple of weeks later. The other garden beds are doing well and are full of green beans and zucchini – lots of zucchini!  The cooler temperatures though may be the reason that the Scarlet Runner beans have been producing steadily all summer. These varieties are popular in England where summers are cooler but tend to wimp out in the hot American summer heat. The beans are fuzzier than the French beans which are picked when just pencil thick. The runner beans grow much longer and are sliced width way rather than eaten whole. The taste is meatier than the bush beans too!

Then there are the melons which are growing beautifully, putting out lovely flowers but setting very few fruit. I suspect that this is also an environmental related issue which could be a combination of cooler nights than normal, and a very overgrown fruit patch where I put too many melon seeds. The garden is in its first year and it is also possible that the compost mix is a little too high in nitrogen promoting lots of leave growth and less flowers and fruit.

So my fall planting plans are in place and include getting an order of garlic placed. Garlic is so easy to plant and harvest at home, and planting in fall gives a slightly earlier crop for next year. I also have plans to under-plant the beans with a row of peas as well as plant more peas in the containers on the deck. I am seeing how much I can grow in containers on the deck and these container started with peas, then had bush beans and will be back to peas and lettuce. The containers can be protected easily from frosts so I hope that they will be productive for another month or two. In the other corner of the deck I have a little ‘grow bag’ which has two little patio tomatoes in it, and a small zucchini – I did give this bag an extra dose of fertilizer and it seems to be doing rather well.

September is also a great time to think about spring bulbs. I prefer to let the first frost occur before I plant, but I like to get my orders in early for the best selection. Last year I had lots of little daffodils but not enough tall ones for placing in a vase. We have increased the garden space too which means I have more places to put daffodils and a few more placed inside the fence for tulips – which the deer eat enjoy.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Do nothing—well, almost nothing. While lawns may resent a smothering of leaves over winter, nearly every other place in the garden loves them. Rake the leaves over a perennial bed and around shrubs and trees.
    Perennials will especially find them comforting as the leaves' insulating qualities lessen chances of frost heaving the soil. Perennial roots may be shallow and heave up during frost and thaw cycles, leaving them vulnerable to drying winter winds.