By Susan Taylor
Traditionally Labor Day weekend is the harbinger of fall in much of our nation. The eastern states put away their garden furniture, barbeques, and lawn mowers and locate storm windows and heavier jackets. Here in the sunny southern California clime, we expect at least another six weeks of warm weather, beach parties and more clear, warm days and nights. In San Diego, most would agree that the August heat was epic for people and gardens alike and maybe summer has just begun!
I am a fickle home gardener and confess I gave up on my whole tomato crop, picked as many as I could and ripped the rest out. I replanted several lettuces and put in some beets and another round of herbs. I plan to plant a few broccoli types, a few more tomatoes and carrots in the coming weeks. Feel free to follow your own enthusiasm level!
Whatever you do, be sure to refresh your soil before planting again. Herbs are the least fussy about soil, which makes them welcome easy plantings. Cilantro should be successively planted if you use a great deal-say every ten days or so put more seeds in and keep them moist.
Moist in the seed garden means spraying with water rather than wet soil. Seeding can be an art form here: seeds usually either drown or dry out quickly so perhaps start them in very warm shade till a few leaves appear. Harvest when the leaves are young and fresh; prune off any buds or blooms because the plant will stop producing. If you go the trouble of growing fresh herbs, by all means use them while they are fresh with the oils and benefits of just being picked.
Labor Day also gives us another chance to browse catalogues (and in the internet I suppose!) for undiscovered varieties of fall/winter crops. I especially like Renee’s Seeds. She grows and writes from California and has many varieties of heirloom seeds for vegetables and flowers. Many seed companies no longer send free catalogues due to costs of production. I find this sad because I’m just old enough to prefer thumbing through the pages of endless seed possibilities. The Landreth Seed Company is perhaps the oldest seed company in America. Their catalogue is what my teacher calls garden porn and I wholly subscribe!
Whether we experience more heat or start a transition to cooler fall times, pay attention to the rhythms around you and within yourself. The world may or may not be timeless anymore. But I believe all cycles of time and change are cyclical and divine-observe and enjoy. Raise a glass, read some poetry and consider the future-soon to be upon us.
Lori Saldaña says
Thank you for the helpful reminders and suggestions. The lower angle of sunlight is definitely impacting our gardens.
I’m thinking of cutting back my tomatoes also. The container-planted garden did well until the torrential July rains flooded them. After weeks of doing well with so little water, all that rain was a shock to their system.
Onward to fall clearing, trimming and planning. Agreed: Good time to rearrange things.
Dave Rice says
Another appreciated installment! I’m attempting to re-learn gardening in a container-on-a-sun-deprived patio sense after moving has left me without a yard for the first time in many years…I’ve managed to not kill a jalapeno plant yet that was already producing when I bought it, though my new tomato isn’t doing well and my lettuce seems to be coming along from seed so slowly I wonder if it’s going to come in at all (or if I’ve planted too soon, saving a second lettuce box to plant in a few weeks). The herbs, remarkably, are thriving – and I’ve never been able to keep basil alive more than a week or two.
Thank you Dave and Lori for your comments. Each garden/planting is so individual, don’t you think? Dave, your lettuce may have either died from lack of water or drowned, sounds ridiculous but it’s hard to tell! But the good news is that you can always plant more and not be worried about being too close with successive plantings! Try again, planting the seeds in very light soil and keep misting away in the shade and see what happens. I am doing the very same thing right now-let’s see who gets there first! Fellow gardeners: do not be discouraged-what would happen if we all quit trying? Perish the thought (I couldn’t resist the pun, sorry).