The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

SEPTEMBER IS TIME TO FERTILIZE PERENNIALS FOR A WINTER OF GROWTH: Perennials grow all year long and as the month of autumn arrives, they need an application of fertilizer that is low in nitrogen to give them a boost as they adapt to cooler temperatures. Most hardware stores, home improvement warehouses carry these fertilizers in one, two and five pound bags.

SUNDAY WILL BE GRANDPARENTS DAY: Remember your grandparents on this special day even if your grandparents have passed on, please keep them in remembrance. We don’t remember our grandfathers because both died before we were old enough to remember anything about them but our grandmothers were a special breed of women who made a big influence upon our lives. Call them, visit them or do something for them this Sunday.

COOLER NIGHTS PAVE WAY FOR SIBERIAN KALE: The greens of Kale prefer full sun, cool nights and rich soil to get off to a productive start. It takes about six of seven weeks to produce a harvest and if they are protected with layers of grass clippings or crushed leaves, the kale can last on into winter months. Kale is sweeter than most other greens and can be cooked as a pot of greens, used in salads, or whipped into a dip to be eaten on tortilla chips.

THE ARRIVAL OF THE WHITE AND YELLOW ONION SETS: With the arrival of mid-September, most hardware stores and see shops now have onion sets available for about two dollars per pound. Onions are a fun vegetable to grow and will be a staple in the winter garden all the way until spring. They have very few insect or animal pests and require very little attention after they are planted. All you have to do is dig a furrow, place the sets about four inches apart and cover and tamp the soil with the hoe blade. When they sprout, cover the space between rows with leaves that are crushed or grass clippings for colder weather protection. Give them a drink of liquid fertilizer for a quick boost.

THE ARRIVAL OF NASTY TENT CATERPILLAR: We hope these nasty critters are not as bad as they were last year when they built their webby tents in trees along the

highways and in trees in yards. They really create an ugly mess and eat the leaves when the worms leave the webs. They don’t destroy the trees but eat leaves. The only sure way to remove them is to pull the web apart to expose the small caterpillars, but this does not help when the tents are high up in the trees unless you are a good climber.

THUNDER IN SEPTEMBER IS A GOOD OMEN: A clap of thunder in September is not common place, but very possible. September can be a month of abundant rain as autumn arrives to cool things down and pave the way for a thunderstorm, lightening and heavy rains. This is not always a bad thing because a New England legend says that when it thunders in September, it means a great harvest for next year’s garden. Here’s to some September thunder with no severe weather along with the thunder!

A SHOT TO BOOST NEXT YEAR’S ROSES THIS AUTUMN: The roses are still producing blooms in mid-September even though their season of production is growing shorter. As the month winds down and October arrives and while you are getting the roses ready for their winter nap, dig around the base of the bushes and apply a couple of handfuls of bone mean and mix it into the soil and cover it back up before adding a layer of crushed leaves for winter protection. The bone meal will promote strong root growth for next year’s roses. When you purchase bone meal for planting spring flowering bulbs, you can purchase enough to apply to the rose bushes. It comes in one pound bags at Walmart’s garden department, hardware and seed stores for about four dollars a bag.

GETTING CHRISTMAS CACTUS READY TO MOVE INSIDE FOR WINTER: The cactus is still thriving on the front porch and we are preparing it for the annual move to the living room and a sunny location to spend the winter. It doesn’t need to be watered as much as temperatures get cooler and this will get them ready for their move. This week will be the last time we feed them liquid fertilizer before their move around October into the living room.

SEPTEMBER BEGINS COUNTY FAIR SEASON: Nips in the late summer air at twilight time signals the return of county fairs across the state of North Carolina and they will continue until mid-October when the N.C. State Fair comes to

Raleigh. The Iredell County Fair in Statesville was last week, the Stokes County Fair will be this week, and the Surry county Fair in Mount Airy will be next week followed by the Rowan County Fair. The fair in Salisbury, Davidson County in Lexington, Cabarrus County Fair in Concord, Alamance County Fair in Burlington and Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem. Each Fair has its own personality and traditions, but all have one thing in common they are fun, they are unusual, educational and still America’s best entertainment value. While on the subject of county fairs, do you remember the fairs of yester-year with the freak shows, girlie shows and bumper cars and the “whip” as well as the “caterpillar?” Why don’t they make a comeback? The game of the 1950’s was a “Crane” game. The crane would pick up prizes from a bottom of colorful pebbles adorned with prizes of pearl handled pocket knives, watches and necklaces. For a dime, you could operate the crane. The funny thing is that I never saw anyone win anything. We were too young to understand the law of physics and weights. With the motion of the crane’s arm, these objects were shaken off before the crane could get the prize to the door.

Ray Baird

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