Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Shoulder Season

I love fall.  There, I've said it.  It's not that I don't like the other seasons, after all, I am a gardener and each season brings its own joy.  In northern Idaho we do have four seasons: cold, colder, wet and hot, but they don't fall into neat little time frames.  And this year, the "hot" season seemed to pass us by completely. 

No matter, my favorite time of year is upon us.  I love the summer/fall "shoulder season," when you can still manage a sunburn without getting heatstroke from working in the garden.  The cooler days have perked up everything, including me.  The deep purple lobelia and red geraniums which had faded and languished in the front yard have rebounded and against the background of golden yellow black eyed Susan's, are just stunning.

It's also the perfect weather for planting. Warm sunny days and cooler nights are great for cool weather crops and the last hurrah for fresh fall produce.  A few weeks ago I replanted a couple rows of sugar snap peas and they're already four to five inches tall.  I optimistic that we'll be eating fresh peas before the first frost (Oct. 15+/-).  This past weekend I replanted spinach, arugula, radishes and ruby red and tom thumb lettuce.  

The spring planting of spinach and arugula was dismal - it was too cold then too hot, too fast, and everything bolted. But, the lettuce crop has been a total success -- we're still munching on it. It's just now starting to taste a little bitter - but no worries, my girls in the coop will love it just the same!  Yes, the "other" compost pile I feed produces eggs.

Fall also means a time to evaluate what needs to be dug, divided and/or ditched. Like the mass of irises under the walnut tree; not a good location and they have suffered. So out they went.  Clearing those has given me a new spot for spring bulbs and a permanent place to plant a couple of hostas that have been living in pots. 

And there's the other bonus to fall gardening...the promise (anticipation and optimism) that comes with planting bulbs.  Along with the usual array of daffodils and tulips, I'm venturing to alliums of the edible kind.  Garlic!  This will be a first and I hope that I can find a good source locally.  Does anyone have a local source or a good online source for garlic?  Let me know - our planting window is coming up!

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Thanks for reading and sharing your comments! Candace

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