Thursday, September 9, 2010

Putting the Garden to Sleep

A large part of late summer/ early fall vegetable garden care is preparing for winter dormancy. This year, I’m on an early time table due to earlier than normal spring planting and impending foot surgery. I must have everything completed by the third weekend in September so that I can convalesce with peace of mind.

1. Empty and cover main planting beds: As my tomatoes die off, I cut them down and clear the planting beds. Once cleared, I cover the bed with a semi-permeable plastic covering. It allows water in, but keeps weeds from sprouting.

2. Trim back my ‘Bee and Butterfly’ flower bed: Time to dead head and cut back the lavender (bye-bye bees) and allow the orange lantana to take center stage (beloved of butterflies).

3. Trim and fertilize roses as needed: This includes more dead heading of spent blooms and trimming any diseased leaves and stems. I still continue to battle orange rust and mildew, but I am winning the war.

4. Trim the culinary and tea herb garden beds: My herbs have gone crazy this season (as they normally do). It is time to trim them back to prepare them for their dormant season.

5. Dry the following herbs: Tarragon, catnip, oregano, and lemon balm. I don’t need to dry down everything this year (thank goodness!).

6. Remove dead palm fronds from the ancient Elephant Palm: This is a fun one – pulling the dead fronds off the palm tree while attempting to balance on an old ladder (with a bad foot), and dodging falling debris and scary spiders.

7. Weed and trim the front yard and set watering schedule for Santa Ana season: I have neglected the curb appeal, yet again. It is time to pay more time and attention as the seasons change.

Hubby will need to water, harvest cherry tomatoes, peppers, and mission figs, and take care of unanticipated emergencies.

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