2017-09-27 / Gardening Tips

Summer in September

It seems like September will turn out to be warmer than August this year. I am not complaining since I have lots of green tomatoes to ripen and my carrots are growing very slowly. We have escaped the rainfall and winds that have wreaked havoc on Texas and Florida, so far, but there are still storms brewing in the Atlantic as I write this. Strong winds will remove some of our beautiful fall foliage and that is not something we want to happen.

I can recall seasons when we had frost in September, although most of the region is usually safe until mid-October. My Brussels sprouts are also not making their buds yet and I vow I will never grow this variety (Falstaff) again. The foliage is an interesting purple color and the plants are extremely vigorous, but no sprouts! I am getting tired of spraying them for cabbage worms, but the plants have been riddled by these pests all season long and the leaves look like Swiss cheese.

Almost corn time

Soon I will harvest some “Silver Queen” sweet corn. This “open pollinated” i.e. “nonhybrid” heirloom variety produces the finest tasting corn I have ever eaten. Most of the sweet corn sold at markets today are “supersweet” hybrids that retain their sweet flavor for up to two weeks after harvest, but the texture of the kernels is hard or tough and I don’t really like that. Silver Queen starts to lose its sweetness hours after picking, but the texture is exquisite.

I may even save some of this seed to plant next year. That is not an option for hybrid varieties. The corn stalks are extremely tall, at over 7 foot, as are many of the late varieties and they will make nice fall decorations after the harvest.

It is getting quite dry in most of the region and we could really use some rain. I am finally harvesting my late season, white fleshed peaches. I wish I could recall the variety name but, as usual, I forgot. As I get older I have realized that I will not remember things like this anymore, so I know for sure that I wrote it down someplace. The problem now is remembering where I wrote it down?

My peaches are not as sweet as I would like, but that is not surprising considering how little foliage remains on the tree. Both my peach trees were seriously defoliated by a disease called bacterial leaf spot and even after I started spraying them, they still lost 90 percent of their leaves.

Half rotten

Most of the fruit also have brown rot, a fungal disease that rots the fruit prematurely. It seems like I get to eat half of each peach since the other half is rotten. Next year, I will try to begin a spray regime as soon as they finish blooming. At least the neighborhood bear has stayed away so far. It appears that this will also be a banner year for the apple crop. I gave up growing apples many years ago since they just require too much maintenance and I can buy them locally. Peaches and plums are much easier for the backyard gardener.

My good neighbor, Werner, saved some “Homes and Grounds” newsletters that I used to write for Cornell Cooperative Extension back in the 1980s and ’90s and he gave me a box full of this old stuff. These newsletters are chock full of interesting gardening stuff that I can now share with you! I think I have found my winter supply of topics to write about when I am in Florida. — By Bob Beyfuss

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