A Watershed Day

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

It is now August 15. From this day forward, my emphasis will shift from summer to autumn. For example, I will no longer fertilize container plants, as I wish to discourage new growth. After all, in only a few weeks I’ll start moving plants indoors, and they will live in the sun room in a survival mode until late next April. If I had been doing so in the past, I will quit watering garden plants. And, any immature squash, peppers, gourds etc. probably won’t reach maturity before frost, unless we have a late freeze as we had last year. On October 17, I picked green beans last fall.

It is pretty much marking time in the yard and garden. It has been very dry, with only 0.4 inches of rain since July 23. That means that Beth does not mow the lawn as frequently, and our trimming around the edges has also slowed down. We continue to water the container plants as needed, and this endeavor will not stop. Yesterday I went into my potato bed again, and weeded on its south side between the south row and the fence. I first distinguished the weeds by pulling out the grass. I know I had planted some spearmint across the fence, and sure enough, its roots had ducked under the fence and it was now near the potatoes. No harm done–I let it go. The same goes for the lady slippers or balsam. At an earlier time I would have pulled it all, but the watershed day has arrived, and I don’t care any more. The potato vines continue their decline as expected, and once it rains, I’ll dig them up.

In the old perennial bed on the west side of the garden, I noticed some kind of weed growing among the daylilies. These weeds were easy to distinguish, even though they were plentiful. The daylilies have long thin leaves, whereas the weeds were taller, and definitely broad-leafed. In less than five minutes they were in a large pile. Since they hadn’t bloomed or gone to seed, I will let Nature take its course, and they will serve as good compost in the area, as well as cover the bare soil.

The oriental lilies are long past their prime, but remain alive. Among them I found some field bind weed–definitely a weed that meets merciless and immediate death. The bind weed has a very narrow stem which twists around whatever is in the area–lilacs, the apricot tree, potatoes, lilies, raspberries–whatever. Beth unwinds the weed, but I simply keep following it to the ground and pull it up. These weeds can choke out plants, but in the case of the lilacs their woody stems should prevail. The oriental lilies will die off this fall anyway, and are already in natural decline. In a perennial such as phlox, daisies or black-eyed Susans, I will follow Beth’s plan and rid the plant entirely of this ugly presence.

While rummaging around in the garden (it was approaching lunch time) I had a look at the cherry tomato plants. Sure enough, I found two ripe ones, and ate them immediately. The warm sun was shining on them, which made the ripe ones a bit softer. My taste buds confirmed that I had chosen the right fruits. TASTY! I also noticed that a couple of the traditional tomato vines have set on a few new fruit, which means I may get a few late fruits after all.

For about the next month, garden work will reach a lull. It’ll pick up again when we prepare the yard and garden in a serious way this autumn, bring the plants indoors, mow and rake leaves, and begin to prepare for winter.

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