There are many things that I like about summer, ranging from bright colorful flowers blooming in my flower bed to the juicy refreshing taste of a good Roma tomato.
The bad part about reality is that summer is fading quickly, turning some of my favorite things into memories of another year gone by. With September already here, it is time to act quickly and efficiently in order to savor some of the best summer products, have new burst of colorful blooms to brighten the holiday season and prepare plants to be enjoyed next summer.
There are several helpful hints from the Purdue Yard and Garden Calendar that can help you achieve the goal of having an everlasting summer.
Hopefully by now, any fall harvest plants such as radishes, green onions, lettuce, and spinach have been planted in your gardens. If so, now would be the time to thin the crops to allow them to develop a healthy root system.
Other crops such as tomatoes, peppers, melons, and sweet potatoes should be harvested before the first frost hits (possibly as early as Oct. 2).
If you are unable to harvest them before then, it would be a good idea to cover the plants with blankets or newspapers to protect them from the lighter frost. Using plastic to cover the plants could be detrimental and cause you to lose the tasty crop you were trying to protect in the first place.
One possible way to save a few of the tomatoes that you were able to grow this year from the elements typically associated with fall would be to pick mature green tomatoes and allow them to ripen indoors. You can do this by leaving the tomatoes on the vine and pulling the entire plant out of the garden. Once that is complete, individually wrap the tomatoes in newspaper and store in a cool location (approximately 50-60 degrees). Allow them to ripen and then enjoy in your favorite edible dish.
There are a few possible ways to have a green thumb year round in your home. If you like to cook with fresh herbs, then right now would be a good time to dig and report your herbs so that you can grow them indoors over the winter. Any houseplants that you might have been growing outside this summer need to be moved indoors once the temperature falls below 55 degrees.
When doing this, you need to check the plant for insects, diseases and the occasional little critter (in the form of eggs from birds and snakes).
In addition to checking your plant to make sure it is healthy, you should gradually decrease the light the plant receives to help reduce your chances of having the plant lose its leaves. The Benjamin fig will lose its leaves when it is moved from one lighting scenario to another very easily. Other plants that can do well being housed indoors during the winter include coleus, wax begonias, impatiens and fuschsia. For these plants, you will want to cut them back halfway, dig them up, and plant them in moist vermiculite, soil mix or perlite.
If actually having a green thumb over the winter does not sound like your ideal plan, then there are alternatives that you can take to still enjoy your labor of summer. For starters, you can cut your herbs and try drying them over the winter. When drying herbs and fresh flowers, you can do this by hanging them upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area.
Some flowers, which you may want to try drying, include strawflower, statice, baby's breath and celosia. These flowers could be used to make some nice flower arrangements for your home throughout the year.
Early fall is the time to make changes to an outdoor flower bed through planting and dividing peonies, daylilies, iris and phlox. One good idea to make a colorful addition to the flowerbed for next year would be to purchase some new spring-flowering bulbs. Timing is very important when planting spring-flowering bulbs since you want to allow at least four-six weeks for the bulbs to root before the ground freezes.
However, planting too early can be detrimental.
Also at the time, canna, caladium, tuberous, begonias and gladiolus bulbs (or other tender bulbs) can be dug up and allowed to air dry before storing in dry peat moss of vermiculite. If you do dig up your tender bulbs, remember that you will need to replant them this spring once you believe there will be no more frost.
Having a way to prolong the winter from arriving can be hard yet there are ways to still cherish some aspects of summer as fall weather begins to hit Indiana.
Now that schools are finishing their first month of being in session schedules are starting to fill up quickly with various activities to participate in. Some possible activities include:
* Sept. 13 -- Show Cattle Clinic, Owen County Fairgrounds, 2 p.m.,
* Sept. 14 -- Agricultural Outlook Meeting, Owen County Extension Office, 8:30 a.m.,
* Sept. 15 -- Owen County Extension Board Meeting, Owen County Extension Office, 6 p.m.,
* Sept. 15 -- Residential Energy Workshop, Living Green to Save Money and Natural Resources, Parke County 4-H Building, 6-9 p.m.,
* Sept. 19 -- Nature's Path to Fitness, Clay County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-noon,
* Sept. 21 -- Annual 4-H Council Meeting, Owen County Extension Office, 7:30 p.m.,
* Oct. 2-4 -- Seventh Popcorn Festival of Clay County, Forest Park, and
* Oct. 19 -- 4-H Award Program Night, Owen County Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 448-9041 in Clay County or 829-5020 in Owen County for more information on upcoming events.