Gardening Tips for Seedy Characters: Week 32

What to do this week

If there is one thing that is true about gardeners, it is that we are always thinking ahead. You might think we would all be busy enjoying what we have grown, or perhaps be scattered in multiple directions picking and processing everything that is coming into harvest now. And that we are. But in addition to that, we are also thinking about those cold, hardy crops that can be enjoyed well into the fall if we get them into the ground.

Kale in winter. (Photo by Madeline Yakimchuk)

Plant it now and you, too, could have winter kale. (Photo by Madeline Yakimchuk)

This week is the time to be starting late fall and over wintering crops like kale, carrots, beets, turnips, even your lettuces in the greenhouse, whatever you want to be snacking on months from now. It may seem counterintuitive to be planting in August, but these crops will not stop growing until late October. That is lots of time to mature. You may be able to harvest them all winter, but you have to get them to the harvestable stage before the cold weather or the shorter days make them stop growing. After they mature, they will survive in the ground for your picking pleasure until the snow covers them or the ground freezes.

The other thing that is important to be doing now is checking your fruit trees for dropped fruit. Pick those up and dispose of them. They may have dropped because they are diseased, or have a happy insect inside, so get rid of them before these things have a chance to complete their life cycle.

If your raspberries are done, and most of them are by now, cut back those fruiting canes. Raspberries give fruit in the second year, so keep those fresh, young, bright-green canes, but cut the old ones back to the ground. They will just sap the strength of the plant, and now that they have finished there is no need to spend energy on them. It will be easier now than later in the year when they have lost their leaves and have toughened up. You will be able to tell the mature canes that gave fruit, even if you have picked it all, because they are looking tattered compared to the young canes. You may want to thin the young canes later, depending on the weather and how robust your raspberry patch is, but for now, cut those older canes.

And finally for this week, this time of year is your last chance to properly divide your perennials. If you have an oregano or tarragon patch, or even perennial flowers, divide them now. They need a good six to eight weeks to ensure they are properly settled in for winter. If you miss out now, you will have to root prune instead. We will talk about that in the fall.

Of course you have to get all of this done while you are busy enjoying your abundant harvest. It is a busy time for gardeners.

Featured image: Raspberry canes by Madeline Yakimchuk.

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Market gardener, farmer, workshop leader, seed-saver, political candidate and mother, Michelle Smith has spent over 30 years coping with the challenges of our bioregion and in the process has built a store of practical and technical knowledge. The Inverness resident has served on the board of Seeds of Diversity Canada and represented Alternative Producers with the Federation of Agriculture but can do nothing about her hair. She is pictured with a head of Club Wheat, a seed that shares her approach to hairdressing.




Backyard food gardener Madeline Yakimchuk caught the food-security bug in the early ’90s through Cuba’s Urban Agriculture Department, taking her first permaculture course and planting her first garden. She can often be found discussing food security, nurturing a plant-based lifestyle or trying to give away vegetables. Professionally, she is GRYPHON media productions but sometimes uses la bruja in her volunteer work, most notably in managing the garden column, which begins life as a telephone interview.




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