End of Summer Gardening

Kathy Henderson

Garden Columnist

Are you as glad as I am to see the waning days of summer? I am so tired of heat, bugs (especially those no-see’ums) and blistering sun. I have mosquito bites, tick bites that itch for weeks and an itch to kill every squirrel that I see. Those guys have touched my last and worst nerve this year. The tomato horn worms have invaded and are eating my garden until I pick them for the peacocks to eat.

Fall greens in Kathy’s garden. Special photo

What is good about summer? Ice cream, fresh tomatoes, corn and beans, early mornings when the air is relatively cool, my flower beds and pots filled with a combination of greenery and color.

What is so good about autumn? Everything! Leafy greens, radishes and broccoli; gardening in the cool part of the day; leaves beginning to turn color and my energy returning. I am so ready to turn under the raised beds, plant seed outdoors and change my flower beds by adding pansies, violas, kale, snapdragons and parsley. I am mostly so ready to need a sweater in the early morning and late evening!

I just received my online order of vegetable seed to grow throughout most of the fall and winter. I started cabbage, collards, broccoli, and self-blanching cauliflower seed in the greenhouse. These will be ready to set out in about 5-6 weeks or less.

Turnip greens, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, mustard, radishes, carrots, and bunching onion seeds will be planted directly into the garden. I really look forward to going out on a cool morning and harvesting these tasty and healthy vegetables.

Plant the seed while the temperatures are still high, and the insects are still a problem - aphids, caterpillars of all kinds, and leaf-footed beetles will suck the juice right out of your leaves. Especially irritating are the cabbage loopers (caterpillars) which come from the white cabbage moth that comes out in the evening and lays its pale yellow eggs on the upper and lower surface of the leaves of almost every leafy vegetable in the garden. These green larvae are 1-1/2 inches long and feed for about a month.

These caterpillars loop or hump as they crawl. BT (bacillus thuringiensis) is a bacteria that kills these pests as well as any other caterpillar. It comes as a dust (Dipel) or a liquid (Thuricide) and must be sprayed often in order to be efficient. It is considered organic. Another organic possibility is insecticidal soap which, used often, will kill most garden insects.

I do not use chemicals in my garden, but if you do, then pyrethrins, permethrin, spinosad or carbaryl will work. Read all labels very carefully and follow them exactly.

Later plantings will have less insect problems but should be watched carefully. The earlier you detect an insect infestation, the easier it will be to control. Be diligent. I prefer to begin to plant my fall vegetables from mid-September to mid-October. I have planted Broccoli and collards as late as early November and had wonderful success. It all depends on our weather. Making successive plantings will help insure success.

Plant lettuces in mid-September; if later they might have to be protected from frost as they mature. Go ahead and order some frost cloth from a seed catalog to be ready.

In the landscape, I will begin to harvest my muscadines, divide the irises and other perennials that have ceased to bloom.

Remember this if nothing else: FALL IS THE SEASON TO PLANT!