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to my wee blog and website all about West Coast Food Gardening .

Organic, no-dig, kitchen gardening in raised beds on Vancouver Island, Canada.

Mid-September in the Garden - How Goes Your Vegetable Harvest & Garden Clean Up?

Mid-September in the Garden - How Goes Your Vegetable Harvest & Garden Clean Up?

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The first weeks of September have been super busy in both the yard and garden. Thought I would do a quick mid month post to let you know what all is going on over here and check to see how you all are making out in your gardens?

You should still have a good month or more of time to do your clean up so not to worry all too much. Do a bit at a time, let everything ripen on the vines, if you can, they taste better that way and store better, as well. After this week or two of September rains, the sun will come out again, giving us several more weeks to plant garlic and finish off the yard work.

Alas, I am under a bit of a crunch time line as I have spine surgery coming up very soon, so we are trying to get everything done like immediately. Eek! We have also undertaken the front yard renovation, which is kind of crazy, but really should help with safety after the surgery as the front yard is currently full of potholes and all sorts of tripping hazards.

The thunbergia in the front yard planters and baskets is out of control : ) I love it!

The thunbergia in the front yard planters and baskets is out of control : ) I love it!

Front Yard … We have begun Phase Two of our yard redo, hoping that the majority of it is done by the end of this week. The excavator will be here today, if all goes well, to level things out, the soil arrives in a day or two, posts are going into the ground, lighting has been ordered… now to figure out what to plant in the new beds. We were able to get the cement poured for our new walkway and patio before the rains came, which made a world of difference already. Am hoping the dogs will soon be tracking in a whole lot less dirt and mess : )

The yard itself doesn’t look like much of anything yet, so will wait till next time to show you all the new goings on.. but oh boy, am pretty excited! I have some really great ideas that I hope will look as amazing in real life as they do in my head (reason #203 as to why I am a gardener and not a landscape designer.. unable to visualize the final product in my head, lol ; )

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Till then… what else is going on….

It is just about time to start thinking about how to overwinter our summer flowering bulbs over winter. Things like dahlias, gladiolas, calla and canna lilies.

My dahlias bloomed much later in the season than usual, so I will be leaving them in the garden a bit longer this year. They are looking absolutely stunning right now. All bulbs and tubers can all be left in the garden till the first frost comes and browns off the foliage. This is said (by some growers) to be better for the tuber, but others disagree…so really, you can lift yours any time that you are ready to do so : )

If you leave them in the ground, they will be fine in our area during a mild winter but you risk losing them if we have a harsh one. If you have some prized dahlias, or ones with sentimental value, always lift them to be on the safe side.

Lift the tubers and cut off the top foliage, leaving just about 2" of stem. Hose them down to clean off the soil, place to cure in a warm, airy spot for a week or two, or even longer. I use the greenhouse tables to dry mine but you can place them on newsprint in the furnace room or laundry room, too. Do not place directly on concrete or you may get rot. Wooden surface, cardboard or newsprint is best.

After curing, you can either store them till spring or prune them after curing this fall. I like spring pruning as the eyes are easier to spot, but generally it just depends on how much time I have in fall. If you want to wait till spring, store as mentioned below., or if you want to divide them now..

  • Start by removing any bits that are bruised or damaged, maybe by the shovel as you dug them up, or by bugs, etc.. these bits will just rot in storage.

  • You then want to remove any tubers that are growing off of another tuber. They will not ever make eyes or grow any leaves or stems, so toss them away.

  • Generally, you would also throw away the mother tuber, the one that grew this year’s flower, as that will rarely do much the following year.

  • Then have a look at what you have left and start dividing. Make sure that you have an eye on each piece that you keep. The eyes are all around the top of each tuber, up by the old stem, not all over the tuber like they are on a potato. They just look like little bumps or dots. This is where the new stems will come from.

To store, place the good tubers in a box or bin with vermiculite, peat moss, or potting soil, label, store in a cool-ish (+5°C), dark spot till spring. Make sure that they are not touching each other. I toss mine into a flower pot or a cardboard box with some potting soil and stick it under one of the greenhouse tables for the winter. Real dahlia growers/sellers will be a whole lot more particular with their treatment of the tubers ; )

Most all other tubers, corms, and bulbs can be treated the same way, they should all be cut back and cured for several weeks before storage.

Canna lilies in pots can be left in their pots, if you like. Bring into a garage, greenhouse or shed, keep cool but not cold, cut back, and leave till spring. Pull them out into the greenhouse or into the warm sun in spring and they will soon start to send up new leaves. I leave mine for two or three years, then I lift and separate them so that they do not outgrow the pot.

This is where we still are at, lots yet to do…

This is where we still are at, lots yet to do…

Garden clean up… is in progress at the old homestead.

The cutting flower garden of annuals has been fully cleared out and the perennial pollinator bed has been cleared of biennials and annuals with all the perennials cut down to just about 2” tall.

We are part way through the herb garden (in the picture above). I cut back the oregano, chives, garlic chives, and sage each fall, to just a couple of inches tall. The rosemary is left as is, and so are the thymes. You can totally leave your garlic chives and chives tall right now to use in your cooking, if you want, but if they are in flower, remember that they self seed like mad, so take off the blossoms.

All annual herbs are removed now, things like basil, dill, and borage. If you have cilantro, this is when it starts to shine, so leave it in the garden. It loves this weather and will keep going until a harsh frost knocks it down.

We have harvested the last of the tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash, so the plants have all come out. The winter squash can be left in until fully ripe, unless the stems begin to rot in all the rain. They cure better and last longer in the pantry if vine ripened. Powdery mildew will not harm the fruits, just wipe them down with a bit of soapy water with a titch of bleach thrown in when you harvest them. They will keep for many months in storage.

We have cut down the asparagus ferns to just an inch or two tall. You can do that now or ideally, wait till they begin to yellow.

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The peppers are growing in pots in the greenhouse, so we are dumping them out into the compost bin as we use up the peppers. The sweets are all done, have all been used in our canning this year, except for the last three, which are all mine. I love them and eat them like apples : )

The mild to medium heat peppers were made into lovely looking pickled pepper rings. We have one last batch to pickle up.

The hots and super hots are still going strong and we have no time to deal with them yet, so will leave them be for another few weeks yet. This year, we are making them into two pepper crushes, one with the super hots and one with medium heat. We still have homegrown paprika powder, chili powder, and cayenne powder, so will just make blended pepper crushes for the family. I do not eat any heat at all, not even a wee bit, but somehow both kids are just like their daddy and love lots of heat.

If your peppers are just starting to colour up, leave them be. They will keep on growing and colouring up well into November, so no need to worry about them. Peppers can even be kept through the winter, but tend to get quite buggy.

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If your brussel sprouts are not sizing up decently by now., take off the tops this month. The top looks like a wee cabbage, twist or cut it off to put the growth into the sprouts rather than the plant.

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Leave your celery and artichokes in the garden, as well as all other winter veggies, like kale, greens, lettuces, spinach, celeriac… For the celery, we just harvest the outer stalks as needed for cooking, leaving it rooted into the ground unless we need a whole bunch of it for canning. In winter, it will be just fine out in the rain. If it freezes, it may turn into mush, but leave it be and it will soon start to push up new fresh stalks from the centre.

Other than that, we are just plugging away at the clean up little by little. One bed at a time. Haul out the big stuff, then clean out the smaller bits of stuff. Top dress with manure or compost. One bed done till spring. Repeat.

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Hardy annuals and tender perennials…

Flowers like geraniums, begonias, and fuchsias are easily kept over winter. Clean them up by deadheading and removing any yellowing bits. I will repot some if they look like they need a bigger pot or if they are struggling, otherwise I leave them be. Top up with soil or a bit of manure if the soil has settled in the pots. I then spray them down really well with Safer’s Soap or Trounce to make sure that they go into the greenhouse bug free. Begonias do not like to be sprayed or might get all blotchy, so I generally leave them alone but will give them a good showering off instead.

The citrus trees are treated pretty much the same way. We are repotting most all of ours this fall, then giving them a really good haircut, trimming the branches back for better shape. They will also be sprayed down really well with the Safer’s Trounce and checked over for scale, a common citrus pest, before they go back into the greenhouse. If they do have scale we will wipe it off the leaves with either baby wipes or a soft soapy cloth, the stems and branches will be scrubbed with a dish brush and warm, soapy water.

More on the overwintering of potted plants in next months blog post as I am not quite ready to get to that as of yet… gotta get the harvesting and the garden clean up done first ; )

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Time to say goodbye to these summer pots, plus all the planters and baskets. I am eyeing up the fall colours already, something with deep purples, I think…

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That is about it for how things are progressing around here… lots yet to do, we have only just begun. The garlic order has arrived, as well, so today will be all about bagging up the orders. So exciting!

Rain Day! One of many this month already ; )

Rain Day! One of many this month already ; )

Happy fall gardening!

Hang in there, it will soon be done!

Create A Lovely Cottage Garden For The Pollinators ... On The Cheap!

Create A Lovely Cottage Garden For The Pollinators ... On The Cheap!

 5 Easy Steps To Growing Great Garlic

5 Easy Steps To Growing Great Garlic