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.