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October - 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.

Where did summer go?? It seems only a week or two ago that I planted the tomatoes and other vegetables in the new raised beds. Now that space is overgrown with tomatoes, squash and watermelon vines, and we have been feasting on green and purple beans, tomatoes and potatoes from the garden all summer. I grew several different varieties of tomatoes and they all maturing. Each afternoon I am able to collect a wonderful selection of colors and sizes. Alas the groundhog is also partaking of the tomatoes and although there are enough for both of us, he does have a frustrating habit of taking the larger, almost ripe ones! Just to confirm my suspicions I put a night camera in the garden. It is activated by movement and caught the little guy right there by the tomatoes. The slack fencing around the garden makes it a little trickier to get into the plants though!



On the deck, the containers are still producing some green beans and they have been joined by a little container of salad greens. These colorful greens may not make a full salad but they are great as an addition to sandwiches and burgers.

Of course the year has been warped weather wise as we endured a cold late spring and rather cool summer. The effect that all this had on plants let to many questions but this year the biggest question that I have fielded was concerning hydrangeas. So many of the mop head hydrangeas did not bloom this year. Just yesterday someone asked me if she would increase the bloom by cutting it back now – that is exactly the wrong thing to do! The buds for this wonderful spring bloomers are formed in the summer and fall of the previous year. The 2013/2014 winter was so long and harsh that many of those blooms were killed. The shrubs themselves are vibrant and green – just flowerless. So the advice is to leave them alone and they will hopefully bloom as normal next year. I suspect many of us will add a little protection to our favorite hydrangea this year too!
In the herb garden the French tarragon and mint are both ready to be harvest and preserved. I like to finely chop the mint and cover it with red wine vinegar. This year I plan to leave a small jar in the refrigerator and freeze the rest in ice cube trays for winter use. The tarragon I place whole stems in a container with white wine vinegar. This is steeped for a few weeks then drained. The classic tarragon flavor vinegar is now ready to be rebottled and stored for winter use. French Tarragon makes a clear vinegar whereas red basil takes on a lovely burgundy color and chive blossom, which is made in spring, give a pretty pink color to the vinegar.

October will be a time to harvest all the remnant summer vegetables and start harvesting the Brussel sprouts and kale again.


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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Several options are available to overwinter a favorite geranium. The first is to cut it back and pot it up as a houseplant for the winter to replant outside in the spring. The second is to pull it up, brush off any clinging soil, and hang it upside down in a cool, humid basement until replanting in spring. Or, you can cut 4-inch lengths of new stem and put them in water or damp vermiculite to root. Once rooted, transfer to individual pots and treat as houseplants.