Archive for the ‘Fall’ Category

Not sure those seeds from last year are still good? Do a quick germination test to find out for sure.

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

If you are like most gardeners, you probably have tons of seeds from last year (and from years before!). Since different varieties have different “shelf lives”, you may want to do a quick germination test before you toss and reorder.

Wet a paper towel (moistened thoroughly but not sopping) and place 10 seeds on the top half. Fold the bottom over the top to cover the seeds and seal in a zip-lock baggy. Blow a little air into the bag so the seeds have a bit of oxygen, then put the bags in a dark place where you won’t forget to check them (I chose a kitchen cabinet).

Wait about a week (different varieties have different germination times — check the seed packet), peel off the top paper towel and count how many seeds have germinated. Fewer than 50% and you will probably want to re-order, 50% to 70% you would plant more thickly than usual, and over 70% and the seeds are as good as new!

End of Season

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Here it is, the middle of October, and there’s some good and not so good things still going on in the garden. It’s been a strange year for the crops, some things doing great even if they ripen late, and some things not seeming to happen at all. There is a great crop of tomatoes that is literally rotting on the vine and on the ground.

Unharvested tomatoes rotting on the vine


It seems like such a waste , when we have a vehicle to collect this abundance and give it to those less fortunate than we.  After all the effort gone through to weed, plant mulch and water through the heat of the summer, it’s hard to make sense of this abandonment just when the “fruits” of all the labor are ready to be enjoyed.

It’s also too bad that folks are not visiting their plots with any regularity because there’s a lot of beauty all around. The fall flowers are beyond magnificent. The array of colors, shapes, and sizes is a joy to behold. Gwen and her helpers have turned our little urban lot into a botanical paradise. So come on out, pick your late crops and enjoy the late season beauty!

– Thom

Dahlias this year were spectacular

A Garden Bedtime Story

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Once upon a time, a long time ago, so long ago it was before DDT was even banned and before the Southwark Queen Village Community Garden was even a gleam in Libby’s eye, there lived two very interesting gardeners. They weren’t a prince and princess, but they had kingdoms they ruled wisely – they did it organically. One was a stubborn old Connecticut  garden writer named  Ruth Stout, who believed that mulch was the cure to just about everything in the garden,  as well as a great preventer of aching backs and repetitive motion disorders in the gardener. The other was Robert Rodale, editor of Organic Gardening magazine, which published Stout’s columns.

“The good gardener should be devoting a lot of time to his garden in autumn,” Rodale wrote in The Basic Book of Organic Gardening (1971).  To which she added in her book The Ruth Stout  No-Work Garden Book (also 1971), “Except for strawberries, putting the garden to bed is no job at all for the year-around mulcher.”

Both of them were staunch believers – nay, proselytizers – of “putting your garden to bed.”

“If you don’t believe it, turn to Nature. What is she doing…?  Look where you will, you will find that Nature is scrupulous in blanketing the earth against the rigors of wintertime,” rhapsodized Rodale’s book.

Stout was more methodical: “Decide where your tomatoes will be next season and put corn stalks, cabbage roots, etc…..”  In other words, drop your pole beans, chop the stiff squash vines, lay down your pepper plants, use all the organic detritus you have.  “Now spread hay thickly over this refuse. When you plant your tomatoes your soil will be soft, moist and weedless,” she proclaimed. “With a thick mulch (weeds) never get a break.”  And in the spring? “You just pull aside the hay and plant.”

Rodale was less sanguine about weeds. “One year’s seeding makes seven years weeding,” he quoted the old adage. But he, too, recommended planning your next year’s garden as you start putting this year’s garden to bed. Beans will grow in very poor soil, but some other crops – rhubarb, melons, asparagus – benefit from the addition of compost or manure to the garden detritus.  Then lay down that hay!

Stout  recommends eight inches  for asparagus –loosely  so the stalks can wiggle up  through it next spring. Thickly for everything  else.  And the strawberry exception? She recommends a light covering at first, to discourage any new growth if the weather turns warm. Then when the temperature hits 20 or less, she recommends a full ten inches, adding:  “How would you like to lie in bed on cold winter nights without a cover?”

Oh, and their gardens lived happily ever after.

– Linda Witt