Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
September, 2010
Regional Report

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Cauliflower, beets, radishes, Pak Choi, and spinach are among cool-weather veggies to plant in early autumn.

Second Shift - Cool-Weather Planting

Though my tomatoes, tri-color bush and yellow filet beans are waning, there is a new season of vegetables to look forward too. Cool-weather veggies thrive in autumn's shorter days, less intense sun and chilly nights.

These fall crops produce hearty, flavorful, nutrient-packed greens, roots and flower buds. Spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, endive, Pak Choi, kale, collards, onions, garlic, radishes, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower. Hungry yet?

I humbly admit to mid-summer garden neglect. I've just started fall planting- a bit later than is recommended. Why? We had to remove five large paper lawn debris bags full of weeds to make way in the garden's center. Fortunately, the next step was a comparative snap. I turned the hard, dry soil quickly with the new Mantis ® XP 16-inch tiller. Besides being easy to start, it maneuvered well in a small space, despite its weight and zoom-zoom 4-cycle Honda engine.

Spring's Groundwork; Summer's Bounty
In early May, I'd diligently planted the bed's periphery with squash, basil, dill, zinnias, four kinds of beets, four varieties of beans and three tomato cultivars. Summer's professional gardening work peaked, followed by sweltering weather. My mid-garden slowly filled with weeds. Weeks of excessive heat discouraged active gardening.
Veggies and flowers thrived though. I harvested squash, beans, tomatoes, and zinnias almost daily.

And quickly- slapping at pesky, incessant mosquitoes! None of the botanical sprays and lotions I applied kept the female Culiseta longiareolata at bay. These mosquitoes did not tell time. Rather than limit their blood feeding to dusk, the ladies bit and drank in the sunny mornings, afternoons, and into the night. Seems the Asian tiger mosquito, vector for West Nile virus, also flies and feeds during the day.

The ladies smelled me and descended with proboscis on target within five minutes. I learned to harvest fast, weeding only within arm's reach. Now I am wondering if there is a weed/ mosquito conspiracy in the air.

Autumn Relief
Amazingly, today - Labor Day - was mosquito-free. What a surprising treat! I enjoyed raking the soil level and drawing the Goserud hoe to make rows for 'Golden' and 'Chioggia' striped Italian heirloom beets, 'Green Fortune' baby Pak Choi, Japanese spinach, 'Earth Gems' and 'Petit Dejeuner' radishes, along with 'Babette' French baby carrots, and purple/white/green cauliflower.

I had open packets with a few seeds so made hills of crookneck squash and summer scallop trio squash. I tucked a planting strip of 'Tendergreen' cucumbers where climbing filet beans had thrived, then pooped out.

Yes, cukes and squash are hot-weather veggies. Will they mature and produce before winter frost? My friend Sally McCabe, who organizes the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Garden Tenders program, says "Why not try?" We've been having warmer, longer autumns with late frosts. If a veggie takes 50 days to mature, that brings us into late October, early November for harvest.

My question: Will there be insects available to pollinate? If not, I can hand-pollinate - transfer pollen from male flower's pollen tube to the female flower's stigma.

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