It’s a busy time with the season winding down

Janet DelTurco had a lovely visit with her sister in England, they already are planning for next year. She came back to Ohio for surgery and already is up and about and chaffing at not being allowed to pull weeds. We had a nice visit and she showed me her herb garden (neat open spaces with a specific herb, surrounded by brick walkways) and vegetable garden. Like all of us, she says, “wait ’til next year.”

The Tiffin farmers market was last weekend (second and fourth Saturdays in September, second Saturday in October) and I bought corn on the cob, because the season won’t be much longer. Several packages of corn already have been frozen for winter use, but it was too hot to further steam up the kitchen, so I cut the raw kernels from the cob and either sautéed them for my vegetable or microwaved (my way of blanching), then froze them.

My niece makes a great corn chowder using the raw cobs. She removes the kernels, then scrapes the milk from the cob to include with other ingredients. If the grill is being used, I soak the corn in husk and grill it that way; you need heavy gloves to tear off the husks, but the corn is delicious. Corn is too space hungry for my small garden, so the farmer’s market is great.

Dill has all gone to seed, so I’ve collected seed heads in a paper bag and will store until next year in the basement. Basil has also begun to flower and I’ll wait until I can tell some seeds have matured then cut flowering stalks into a different paper bag, also into the basement. Coriander seed, from cilantro plants, is slower to collect, because the round seeds are plucked from the heads. These seeds get dried for a few days, then stored in small glass jars.

As I use my heirloom tomatoes, I squeeze seeds onto a labeled piece of paper, which is placed on a piece of paper towel. Next day, I change the toweling, the following day I put the still-damp piece of paper on the counter for a day or so, then into the fridge with other saved seeds.

Even though there are four tomato varieties growing in close quarters, I’m pretty confident there is no cross pollination because I help. The tomato flower has interesting construction in that the anthers (male, pollen-bearing structures) open to the inside and tomatoes are buzz pollinated. A bee buzzing beneath the flower, which opens downward, jostles the anthers to shed pollen onto the stigma (female structure). I flick tomato flowers with hopefully the same effect. There is good fruit set and so far the seeds seem to breed true. Because I like to have green tomatoes as frost approaches, I am continuing to flick flowers.

Even though it is still summer, I have begun to make a list of what needs to be done this fall. If the list is started now, it can be added to as I think of things.

There are several perennials that need to be moved if they are not growing well where they are, or if I changed my mind about where I want them. Amaryllis vacation in the garden and need to be lifted and potted so they can acclimate before being brought indoors. Houseplants also need to start getting ready to be brought in.

Once nights fall below 50, all my tropical plants need to be in, so now is the time to de-bug them of scale, mold and ant colonies (I know! But there is plenty of evidence ants move into the pots over the summer). Also start thinking about next year’s garden and where you might plant garlic this fall. I keep plans of each year’s garden and do my best to rotate where vegetables are planted so any residual pests will not have an easy time the next year.

Susan Carty is a local gardener and a professor emerita of biology at Heidelberg University.

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