Sunday, October 10, 2010

Warm Weather for Garden Clean Up

Pride of Burma Ginger - a new plant for us.

The Pineapple Sage blooms with the short days of October.
The garlic patch planting -plant now for a next summer harvest.

The finished bed.
A late planting of lettuce in a season extender cold frame
the cardoon tied up for blanching.
I harvested "babies" from this mother plant for wintering over under lights.
Here are the newly planted starts.
The Red Italian Dandelion is a chicory that I hope will winter over.
Look at those thorns on the Purple Devil.

Nothing on this plant is edible.

The return of warm weather helps make fall clean up easier but also makes one wish for more growing days. I finally got some late lettuce planted in one of the cold frames. I also was surprised when I looked in the seed box for spinach seed - seems there is not too much. Spinach is a great last crop to sow in the fall as the seed will germinate in the cool nights and then just hold through the winter for spring growth. So I will have to go on the search for some more seed as the three packets that I have just will not do as I planted one in the cold frame with the lettuce.

I also got the garlic planted. Hardneck garlic is a fall planted crop that will be harvested next summer. The pictures show that I am only planting one bed instead of two like last year. I had more garlic of one kind than another so I figured that I would just mix the cloves and not bother to worry about two separate beds. The garlic all ends up eaten or planted anyway. I used my dibble to punch the holes and planted the cloves about 2 - 2 1/2 inches deep and talking with some other gardeners I think next spring I will give the plants a good shot of blood meal to help push them along. They seem to think that garlic is a heavy feeder and needs fertilization so I will try. I sure would like bulbs as large as the ones I saw again at the Door County Fair in August.

Along with the planting I took out all the cucumber vines, melon vines, tomato plants and peppers and sent them all to the city compost pile. Just as matter of practice I don't compost any of those plants. I want to move the tomato planting so I will pull out all the "T" posts this fall and reposition them next season in the new patch. I removed all the potato vines too and sent them off as well. The egg plants, when I pulled them, had huge root systems as did a few of the tomato plants. The 'Red Peach' along with the 'Green Doctors', 'Tomatoberry', and I think 'Red Alert' all had substantial root systems this late in the season. While the other tomatoes in the rows were easy to pull out as they had few roots holding them in the ground. The grafted plants were not as heavy on the roots as they should have been. A few of the cherry types also had the very last tomatoes of the season. The 'Green Doctors' and 'Red Alert' had the most and a yellow variety also had fruits but I just can't remember the name of that yellow variety, as the plants were in the rows that got replanted and the records don't show exactly what they are - too bad because they were good.

I also tied up all the cardoon plants in order to blanch the centers before I harvest some of them. Hopefully they will be on the menu for Thanksgiving or maybe sooner. Some of the plants might winter over and then next season they will grow flower shoots and make what look and taste very much like mini-artichokes. What fun.

We are having beef stew tonight. The base is tomato juice frozen from last years tomatoes; with onions, potatoes, carrots, and celeriac from this years garden.

Last week I started a new batch of 'Spider Plants (Chlorophytum conosum) for the house and for next years outdoor plants. I like to have 'Spider Plants' in the house all winter. They will take the low light and help clean the air, and next spring, the plantlets will be a supply of new adult plants. I have been making new plants this way for a number of years. These plants are day length sensitive and that is what makes the off shoots appear in the fall and spring. Get one from your local grower and next spring make some more.

Also last week we got a new house plant - a 'Pride of Burma' ginger (Curcum roscoeana) from the Plant People Floral here in Green Bay. Sheila Hansen is the floral manager and she has a very nice variety of green and blooming plants. This ginger is tall, as the pictures show, and the orange flower is bright and really a great plant for this Halloween season of orange. I hope to keep the ginger growing upstairs as long as possible then move it to the lights in the basement and then see how it fares.

Two other plants from this summer need some up dates. The Italian red dandelions are a "YES" - a chicory as their scientific name says -Cichorium intybus - so that explains the blue flowers and now the hope is that they will also be perennial and come up next year too.
The 'Purple Devil' (Solanum atropupurean) is truly a devil to get rid of as the thorns show. I scraped off the bottom six inches of thorns before I cut them off and threw them to the trash. The other name for this beast is 'Five Minute Plant' and I agree one does spend at least that much time marveling at the downward facing thorns that can go through leather work gloves easily. Nothing edible on it and I think that this one is not going to reappear in the seed list again unless I want a spite fence.

As guest speaker for the Introduction to Horticulture class at Fox Valley Technical School last Wednesday, I had an involved group of students and really had an excellent time. I can't stress to them too much what a good career path I think they have chosen. We talked about how much everybody likes" pretty" and everyone eats food, and that horticulture seems to work at satisfying both of those needs - "Good Luck" students - hope you stick with it. Thanks for getting the 'mystery plant' correct too.

Happy Gardening.


  1. Hi Dave...
    Got my garlic ('Music', 'German Red', & 'Spanish Roja') yesterday from 'Territorial Seed Co.' so that will get into the ground today. I will get my shallots in also (' French & Matador') instead of doing them as a spring planting. I also got Multiplier Onions to try. Do you have those or have any tips on growing them?
    Looks like a fence row of the 'Purple Devil' would be a good plant to keep unwanted intruders away! What was it's purpose? Any history on the plant?
    'The Crazy Cat Lady'

  2. Hi Cat Lady,
    The garden is a place of experimentation so the 'Purple Devil' was just that and the catalog copy of just tempting like the lettuce copy in the Territorial catalog. You can look it up on the net under the scientific name and get more info and other names. But, for now I doubt that I will be replanting it even though I harvested the seed just for 'WtH'
    Yea, Garlic planting - WoW, three kinds. Just remember that you must replant the LARGEST bulbs next year even though its tempting to eat them as that makes for the best growing.
    Happy Gardening