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Preparing for Fall

August 2, 2011

With summer in full swing the garden has needed little other than watering and harvesting. I’m hoping I won’t jinx myself by saying this, but the pest population has dwindled. Cabbage worms seem to have disappeared from the broccoli and kale and the tomatoes are free of aphids.

Tomato plants free from aphids.

With the summer crops under control, I’ve been looking toward the fall season. One of the problems is that I’m not sure how long the plants I have will continue to grow and produce. I know that some things are ready to pull- I have a few trays of bolting lettuce- but most things are still going strong, so it is hard to figure out how much space I’ll have and when. To get started I’ve done some pruning, planting, and ordering.

Making space for new plantings.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been frustrated with the basil. The plants were constantly sending up buds that needed to be pinched off to prevent pollination. I decided to read some more about harvesting techniques. We had mostly been picking individual leaves. A lot of websites recommended cutting the stems right above a set of baby leaves to stimulate growth. This seemed like it could make for healthier more productive plants and save me the time of pinching the buds. It took a good part of an hour to trim back all of the plants. Even after doing research, it was hard to decide exactly how much to cut off. I made a large batch of pesto that used most of the harvest, but I also put a few cuttings into water to see if they would grow roots.

Basil before trimming.

Basil after trimming.

Cuttings and harvest.

I also planted some seeds for the fall. I’m not sure if the current broccoli plants will keep producing, so I planted a few more. The problem with broccoli is that it requires a huge container, and we don’t have space fore many of them. I also planted more kale. The current batch is doing well, but kale is supposed to be best as a fall crop. Lastly, I planted a new round of sugar snow peas. I have a few more seeds that I intend to plant over the next few days including baby bok choy, radishes, and more beans. I also purchased some new seeds for the fall season- spinach, lettuce, and oregano- from Hudson Valley Seed Library.

Broccoli and kale sprouts.

Sugar Snow Pea seeds.

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