by David Hinks
For many the beginning of August signals the end of the heat of summer and time to prepare for the fall – certainly the back-to-school sales are in full swing.
In the garden cooler nights and generally lower daytime highs mean that it is time to plan our fall crops. For plants that are frost tolerant and that prefer cooler growing conditions such as lettuce and spinach the growing season may well extent to the end of October. Mid-August is probably the best opportunity to plant vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and other greens that will grow very well as the days get shorter and cooler in the fall. The trick is to get them to germinate in warm soil. Frequent watering may be necessary. The timing for the fall crops works well as some of our growing beds are becoming empty as some of the early crops are being harvested. The early potatoes – the Irish Cobblers – have been harvested and the bed will take very little preparation before it is ready.
However the summer season is far from over. Many of our vegetable plants are in full production giving us succulent, juicy produce such as tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, beans, beets, early cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, cucumbers and everyone’s favourite – sweet corn. The following photo shows bush beans ready to be picked growing next to carrots that were planted recently for a fall crop.
Many of the long-season crops need little or no attention during the growing season. For example Brussels sprouts are generally bug free and only need an occasional hoeing or weeding. Leeks also require a very long growing season and it is probably timely to think about ‘hilling’ them up. As shown in the following photo the soil is simply drawn up on both sides of the plant. This helps to encourage a longer white shaft.
While I had anticipated last week that my garlic harvest was two or three weeks away, I was wrong! In fact the foliage has been dying rapidly and I had to scramble this past weekend to harvest it while the bulbs are still in prime condition. I dug the garlic with a spading fork as show in the following photo.
I then tied them together and hung them in a garden shed to air-dry as shown in the next photo. I will generally leave the door open unless heavy rain is forecast so that they are sheltered but still have good air circulation. I will leave them here for two or three weeks, then trim off the roots and snip off the tops to about 2 cm.
This is your reminder for the Garlic Festivals in Carp and Perth this weekend August 10 and 11 where garlic will be the main event. If you plan to plant garlic this fall buy from a local producer – you know that what you are buying was produced locally and is suited for local conditions.
Thanks to everyone who came and supported the community parties at Augusta Park and Community Garden for five Wednesdays in July. There was an enthusiastic group of nearly 100 at the park last Wednesday and the view expressed by many was this should be repeated next year.