September 2013
Home Grown Tomatoes

Autumn is the Time for Salad Greens!

  Two great reads to help prepare your thoughts for gardening in 2014.

There’s always something to grow in the garden in Alabama! Right now is the time to plant your fall crops.

September brings the beginning of the end of our summer chili pepper crops, our zinnias and sunflowers for cut flowers, and basil for pesto making.

But this is the month for changing our garden and having fun. With the cooler evenings becoming more plentiful and the daylight still extending our gardening time, we can spend more quality hours preparing our beds for fall veggies.

I just started some carrots in containers and beds. This fall we’re trialing an Asian variety called Kuroda from Botanical Interests and a Ferry-Morse carrot called Red Cored Chantenay in beds. Renee’s Garden’s Round Romeo worked well in the summer, so we’re planting it again for the fall.

Since we had crop failure on our parsley earlier this year, Italian "Gigante" seeds are sown directly in beds along with Dukat Leafy Dill.

Here are a few of the seed varieties we planted here at the Tomato Tower for the fall.  

Also, we love lettuces so much here at the Tomato Tower we planted more French Red Leaf Redina and Jade Gem in containers. As the heads grow, they are thinned and transplanted to borders in alternating colors.

Garnet Giant and Red Giant mustard are favorite salad greens (well ... reds) and they also taste great sautéed with mushrooms for burgers.

Bonnie Plant bunching onion sets are replanted this month to have a cool-season crop for salads and snacking. Guardsman bunching onion seeds are sown between the sets for an even later crop that produces, usually, through December.

Gourmet Blend beets and Turga parsnips round out the root-crop planting.

Mesculin mix, slow-bolt cilantro, Italian Cameo basil and Pot of Gold container chard are planted along borders for added color and intrigue.

I had great success again this year with creating more savory plants, so there are about 38 of them being transplanted to an area of the garden to create a 12-inch tall hedgerow.

Thanks to a growing herd of deer and more chipmunks and armadillos, the gourd garden had a success rate of almost 1 percent. The only surviving vine with a fruit on it ended up with a borer, so I pulled it up and will try planting again next spring. Grr!

  Stop by the Quality Co-op tent at Boom Days 2013 and say hello. I’ll be there along with the fine folks from DeKalb Farmers Co-op.

Let’s get ready to save some seeds! For your reading pleasure, "SavingSeeds,PreservingTaste" by Bill Best gives insight on how and why seed selection from heirlooms is so fundamental for preserving taste as well as size and texture.

It is almost seed catalog time and this title comes to mind. I just finished reading "America’sRomancewiththeEnglishGarden" by Thomas J. Mickey. Mickey gives insight on how nursery and seed catalogs of the late 1800s had such a strong influence on our gardening styles and techniques. It’s a good read from Ohio University Press.

Speaking of English gardens, I am reminded of a story told to me by English gardener extraordinaire and former English bobby Michael Shadrack. He and his wife live in New York these days and they decided to holiday in East Anglia in the U. K. a few years ago. It was Christmas time and the height of the inflatable lawn ornament craze (giant snowmen and Santas, etc.).

Michael told us that the English garden for pleasure and satisfaction like Americans do, but English gardens are created with the focus on the homeowner’s perspective and not the view from the street.

He and his lovely wife Kathy went motoring one evening to see the decorations and it seemed that all they saw were the backsides of Santas, snowmen and carolers!

Come see me in person on Saturday, September 21, at Boom Days in Fort Payne! I’ll be there with our friends from DeKalb Farmers Co-op stores and with artist Lisa Opielinski. Please stop by and say hello!

  This is a photo of me using the scuffle hoe to weed around tight plantings of chili peppers and flowers.

Boom Days is a fun festival filled with great music, art and food. Go to for more information.

Great gadgets for your garden this month. For fine point pruning and snipping flowers, I have found I like a good pair of ergonomically designed pruners.

Weeding is easier with the scuffle hoe. It only makes sense to use the forward action of hoeing to cut weeds, too. The push and pull action cuts my weeding time by up to 70 percent. Ask your local Quality Co-op store for these great gadgets.

Next month we’ll talk about my used tool collection, where I bought them and how you can find vintage garden gadgets cheap!

Happy Autumnal Equinox and I hope to see you at Boom Days!

If you have any questions or comments regarding the plants or garden gadgets discussed in this column, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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