Over the Counter: Lessons from the Summer Garden

 Raspberries are nutritious, delicate, bright, sharp tasting fruit that add character to any garden.  WARNING  the plants are very tenacious and should be placed with care  OR  you will wind up with Raspberry plants everywhere and you might not appreciate that:)  TIP   The Raspberry has sharp fine hairs along the spine of the plant use  THICK  leather gloves or  THICK  contraction gloves when handling the plants. Remove spines -  take painting tape or plumbers tape place gently over the skin pull back to remove spines - then wash with liquid soap - examine under a magnifier - remove remaining spines with tweezers let dry - purchase "Bacitracin" -  NOT  "Neosporin" - your tiny wound will heal:)

Raspberries are nutritious, delicate, bright, sharp tasting fruit that add character to any garden. WARNING the plants are very tenacious and should be placed with care OR you will wind up with Raspberry plants everywhere and you might not appreciate that:) TIP  The Raspberry has sharp fine hairs along the spine of the plant use THICK leather gloves or THICK contraction gloves when handling the plants. Remove spines -  take painting tape or plumbers tape place gently over the skin pull back to remove spines - then wash with liquid soap - examine under a magnifier - remove remaining spines with tweezers let dry - purchase "Bacitracin" - NOT "Neosporin" - your tiny wound will heal:)

The August Garden 2013

Summer is not officially over until September 21st but by then you would be already enjoying your fall garden and thinking about what to leave in the ground to over winter.  Looking back over the August Garden I  made a few mistakes

I planted the "Jack O' Lantern" near the long, dark, heavy leafed arms of the Mulberry tree. The Pumpkins looked good for while but produced no pumpkins and eventually got moldy I did relocate it near the Tomatoes but the Tomatoes won out:).

The Butter Lettuce grew and it wars tasty ( the leaves I ate ) but it was placed in the path of the Raccoons who seemed to enjoy it too - going forward it will be planted in barrels and I planted too much to close together.

The "Sugar Baby" Watermelon arms ( watermelon lays down vines similar to: Squash Cucumbers, Pumpkins ) look great circling the birdbath and I do have yellow florets but no melons. Could it be too many plants vying for water? Or lack of heat  its been cool here ?) Next year I will plant everything earlier ( I put down seeds and seedlings for most of my garden in June ).

My "American Flag" Leeks peaked and were tasty but did not grow big - I planted to many too close and in a rocky region of the garden - some how weeds took advantage of my affection for the young leeks and - well it was a potpourri that I did not want - the Leeks ( and the weeds ) went bye bye:) 

The Onions thrived - but I planted them too close to the bottom of the "Detroit Red" Beet barrel - the mushrooms that flowered were spectacular but I did not eat them ( see Michael Pollan on eating mushrooms:)  Perhaps next year will plant the on loins in rows  higher up and protected by a plastic liner ( a  "vapor" liner works fine ).

In my haste to make room and provide the stronger arms with nutrients I cut the one Cantaloupe off ( ugh ) and only within  the last couple of weeks have seen tiny Cantaloupes growing ( they are currently the size of marshmallows:) EXERCISE PATIENCE! 

I plant tomatoes near mint and geraniums with great success  no bugs and my bounty is large HOWEVER I have noticed the Tomato plants are selfish with water and will pull from the plants around them ( remember the best tasting tomatoes are not water logged ). Next year I will plant the Peppers away from them ( I relocated "The Black Beauty" Peppers - they were starting to produce less near the Tomato ) are doing fine near the Pole Bean Barrel ( I think I have heard  the Pepper snigger at the Tomatoes now that they are getting enough water - the Tomatoes ignored them:) 

 

A bean aficionado  - I eat them sparingly ( a handful is more than enough protein for a health adult woman who is not lactating or ill  ) I have a fondness for Cranberry beans and planted them successfully with the String beans in the same barrel. 

 

  TIP:  Cranberry beans are nutty flavored gems which lose their signature stripes during  cooking save some of the beans ( remove them from the pod ) to plant for next years harvest:)    PAIR :  I combine  Blue Potatoes with Cranberry Beans to make a great spread - add lavender salt - delicious:)

TIP: Cranberry beans are nutty flavored gems which lose their signature stripes during  cooking save some of the beans ( remove them from the pod ) to plant for next years harvest:)   PAIR:  I combine  Blue Potatoes with Cranberry Beans to make a great spread - add lavender salt - delicious:)

The Fall Garden - are you ready to get down and dirty?:)

The Lemon Cucumber has three little cucs on the way the plant has been producing less after a great summer of gifting me with yellow lemon scented fruit but the leaves are looking tired and moldy - even thought the plant is in full sun - I think it wants' to call it quits this year. In the SF Bay Area we harvest vegetable gardens up until mid december ( in dryer years ) but I will be leaving the property so I can't take advantage of this - I am happy to have had such great cucumbers for my salads! 

HERBS

The herbs in your summer garden may need to be relocated in order to be productive in the fall. TIP: many herbs contain their own seed packets! Basil for example self seeds take the seeds from the flowers and plant around your garden! remember to top  flowering herbs so you get more leaves than flowers ( Coriander, Basil, Thyme Arugula are examples:)

Autumn is coming, the kids are going back to school ( or you will be starting classes soon ) you have new neighbors and you met your exercise goals now  you can look toward the fall and plan your meals - start here: 

1. Assess your time - how much can you allocate ( faithfully ) to an autumn garden? 

2. Will you start from seed or purchase seedlings? ( remember to save seeds from your favorite fruit and vegetables - remove the fruit from the seeds lay the seeds out to dry and store in a cool dry place.) 

3. The light will change. Remember was a sunny corner in your summer garden may be darker or have shorter periods of light  and hence "heat" for your autumn beds -plan accordingly.  

4. Plant what is going to be eaten. Plant for your kids yourself, your community -plant things that will be happily eaten example. A neighbor plants a row of pumpkins - of all kinds along the pavers in front of his home. Watch the Pumpkins grow is fun - this scene alone is reason to get out of bed and walk the dogs down this street - however the man does not eat them! he lets them rot and if no one takes them it becomes a rotting mess ( we have been working with him on this:)  Plan your garden plant what is going to be eaten - this simple step will save you time ( and money:) 

5. To Let alone or remove - that is the question? The wilting leaves from Iris, Lilies, Alliums etc may be unsightly but try to leave them alone. The bulbs and corms  are storing nutrients for the next season. If you must cut the wilting leaves of the Iris for example do so on an angle this seems to affect the plant less.

Final Thoughts

 Cover exposed Iris rhizomes ( which have multiplied since last season ) with soil and or straw until you are ready to divide, share and plant the rhizomes.

Cover exposed Iris rhizomes ( which have multiplied since last season ) with soil and or straw until you are ready to divide, share and plant the rhizomes.

Summer gardens are a joy aren't they? i have had so much fun tending my little vegetable / herb garden. There used to be fruit trees where the vegetable garden is - Fig, Blood Orange, Cortland Apple and an Apricot Tree - all donated to Mills College. Yes it has been a lot of work but the rewards I have reaped and shared have been worth it. I have grown and become a better gardener because of tending  the flowers, herbs, vegetables and other plants ( all of which I planted ) which call this parcel home.

If you are an experienced gardener, garden enthusiast and if you love eating fresh fruit and vegetables - look forward to planing your fall garden! Whether you have a small patio, or container  garden ( many plants are successfully grown in container gardens ) or if you've considered taking the jack hammer to your hard space and turning gray to green the possibilities are endless make the fall garden yours.  I assure you it can be a thrilling and as memorable as summer roller coaster ride - a fun learning experience you will learn from and enjoy during the highs and lows of the season! The summer garden is almost at and end and your fall garden is a tiny a light in your eyes make it a reality. This one green act for yourself, your community and the earth is so personally gratifying and it becomes so natural and is perennial as the return of your favorite sleeping bulbs, corms and rhizomes ( shown below )  which will awaken, grow, greet you -"hello"and multiply for years to come:)