Late summer gardening

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It’s not really “late” summer in North Carolina. As the saying goes, we have four seasons: Almost summer, summer, still summer, and Christmas. Which means that, where I live, I can safely keep herbs and vegetables on the sunny side of the porch until mid-October.

My basil is fabulous as always, and I planted enough this year that I think the dried and crushed leaves will last until next “almost summer.” I bought two large tomato plants from Walmart months ago (NEVER AGAIN) and they looked healthy and had flowers and small green tomatoes on them . . . but once I got them home and the tomatoes started turning red, the leaves turned yellow, got brown spots, and dried up. A friend of mine identified the problem as leaf spot disease. I cut off all the dead  and dying foliage and set them around the side of the house to deal with later. A few weeks later I looked at them and they were putting out new growth and flowers! I pruned them again and watered them. Now they seem to have gone dormant. Go figure.

I bought tomato and basil “grow kits” from Family Dollar and they really took off. I had so many tomato seedlings in one little pot that I split them between three planters and gave the other pot to my neighbor. The seedlings have tripled in size in the two weeks since I planted them in big planters.

The friend who identified the tomato disease mailed a few bush-variety squash seeds to me. I planted three. They all germinated and look sturdy and healthy.

I’ve never planted squash in containers before. I decided to try more herbs and vegetables than flowers this year, so I chose something that looked fairly easy: pole beans. One pot looks to be on the verge of doing something. The plants in the other pot are a pallid yellow and are struggled. I ran a screwdriver up all the drainage holes in the pot, put the pot on a plant stand, mixed up a big bowl of potting soil, coffee grounds, and crushed eggshells (per my friend who has 12 foot sunflowers) and added the mixture to the pot. The soil was too low in that pot and most of my other vegetable pots. What I did today was add the potting soil/coffee grounds/eggshells to pots that were low on dirt, rearrange vegetable containers to maximize their sun exposure, and then snip yellow leaves and deadhead wildflowers. Container gardening won’t save you from weeds and grass. I did quite a bit of weeding today.

It rained hard two days ago, and it’s been “cool” (under 90F) since, so I watered some plants and gave the rest of them a splash of water on the leaves after the sun set.

My next gardening project is moving irises, very, very old irises that aren’t getting sun and rain because of a massive old maple and overgrown hedges. I’m not looking forward to it, but it has to be done. The soil in that flowerbed is exhausted. The worst outcome is what’s inevitable if we don’t try to move them.

Otherwise, my moonflowers are blooming, and the forget-me-nots and marigolds are starting to. I’ve learned a lot about gardening this year, plants for containers other than tomatoes, treating plant diseases, and what to do with the shady side of your yard.

–RobinIMG_0155IMG_0158IMG_0159IMG_0160

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