Here we are again, summer is ending and the fall season beginning, and as always there is much to be done in the garden. Most of the jobs are pleasant, although there is a wistful feeling about the harvesting and cleaning up, knowing winter days are approaching.
The beans are finished, even the long-lasting pole beans, and the last few that cling to the vine seem to be extra tasty. But there is the tedious job of cutting and tearing down the vines that cling with such tenacity to their structure as if they are reluctant to go. The corn stalks are drying up, and the last few ears are ready to harvest.
I am going to be gone for a while this month, and it is always nice to come home to a tidy garden. Things need to be done in order. The compost bins have to be emptied to make room for the garden refuse, but the beds where that life-giving compost needs to be spread still are full of the fading plants.
Where to begin?
I have been gradually digging out a few potatoes at a time, but now is the season for the final "treasure hunt" - and Noah and Owen like to be here for that job. At ages 4 and 5, they are in pre-school and kindergarten, and so their time is limited.
There are plenty of turnips and parsnips for the winter, and they will stay in the ground for a while yet. The broccoli is long gone, a miserable failure again, but every time I vow not to waste the space for it, I decide to have just one more try.
I did something this year I have been recommending to other people for a long time ("Do as I say, not as I do!"): I went outside on a sunny day and took pictures of all the flower beds.
I put each snapshot on a sheet of paper and made copious notes with arrows, so in the spring when those first shoots appear I will know what they are.
I hate to think how many perennials have perished because I thought they were weeds.
I wish I had done an earlier round while the daffodils and tulips were blooming, then I would know where to plant a few new bulbs. A number of my pink tulips have reverted to red, and anyone who knows me will understand they
have to be picked and taken inside.
The flowers still are colorful and bright. I replaced a lot of elderly mums in the front bed with several thread-leaf and regular coreopsis, and they have done very well with the salmon geraniums that are 5 or 6 years old by now, some green coneflowers, two new Knock-out roses, pinkish osteospermums, a couple of monkshood, and a ring of Misty Mauve impatiens around the cherry tree. That sounds like an awful mixture, but the bright colors bounce off one another, and I have enjoyed them all summer.
The Russian sage on either side of the porch are reliable and beautiful as well.
I never have much luck with hanging baskets, due to the erratic care I give them. Watering is difficult, and the only survivors of my springtime enthusiasm are some Dolcissima petunias and a basket of gaura.
I grew the petunias from seed as usual, and it took three consecutive packets of seeds until I finally got them to germinate well.
Because each packet has to be mail-ordered and costs more than $5, I did give this eventual basket good care and they have rewarded me for it.
There still is a lot of work to be done outside, but there's no real urgency about it, and if the weather is good, it is a pleasure to be in the garden.
Janet Del Turco is a local
gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
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