Can you smell it …Can you smell autumn in the air? I got a whiff of it the other morning when I was heading out to the garden to prep it for my cool season crops of lettuce, cabbage, brussel sprouts, carrots, radishes, and will squeeze in a tomato or two before frost. This is the perfect time to plant all trees, shrubs, and perennials. Getting them in the ground to have their roots established for the wonderful new growth in the Spring! Especially with fruiting trees, what a better reward than juicy pears, peaches, and nectarines in the heat of the summer! All the citrus trees are starting to produce flowers for their bounty in the late fall – early winter season! Grapes are getting ready for harvest to make jam, jelly, and wine!
We will be closed the week of September 14th - 18th and will reopen regular store hours September 21st. I am going back up north to witness my daughter have my new baby grandson.
I don’t want to get all political on you but this issue is SO important to home gardeners, organic farming, and all types of heirloom seeds … please check out the ruckus of Senate bill 510 and House bill HR875 regarding growing heirloom varieties and organic farming that will effect us in our own backyards! And major fines for even possessing heirloom seeds. It’s not a good thing the government (well actually Monsanto) is trying to pull off with this bill that will be the death of freedom to healthy seeds for healthy vegetables as well as our ability to buy eggs from the neighbor down the street to farmers offering raw dairy products. Check out Dr. Rima on youtube by following the link provided: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHUeyD_KCrI&feature=player_embeddedfor enlightenment of what the bill will do if passed!
Gaia’s Natural Foods (GNF) Update: GNF provides the health-conscious consumer safe, beneficial, and healthy foods grown locally. MEMBERSHIP is OPEN! We have a plethora of offerings … pastured eggs (chicken and duck), dairy products (dairy and goat), grass-fed, free-range meats (beef, lamb, pork, and goat), pastured poultry (chicken and turkey), and local honey. We have access to organic bulk goods, natural household cleaners and personal care items as well. As well as working with local produce farmers schedules to offer seasonal produce in the fall/winter. We are still making local farm visits to keep the bounty coming. Membership is $50.00 per year to enjoy wholesale pricing on GNF’s offerings. Why settle for a preselected box when you can custom order the products you love.
It is through much consideration that we have decided to close our retail location and move our merchandise entirely online (except the plants ... but will have plant sales periodically). I would like to offer garden tours and classes periodically for any interested so if you’d like that let me know. The classes will be taught at my home in Mary Esther, which is a better venue anyway for the gardening classes so you can see what the process produces! If you want products from the online store and would like to stop by and pick them up to save on shipping & handling that’s fine. And we will still be creating beautiful landscapes with consultation, design, and installation services as we have always done. You will still receive monthly newsletter emails as well as reminders for our events that we may host. That being said I wanted to encourage you to come shop while the gettin’s good (so I don’t have to pack it all up). Please get word out that I would like to donate the remainder of the plants we don’t sell to local schools and non-profit charities. If you want some good deals on store fixtures stop by soon and get dibs.
I am also looking for homes for the feral cats on the property. They are certain degrees of tamed … one (Stubby) can most probably be a house cat but he needs to be by himself (he fights with everyone around here), 3 of the cats would be good mousers around your property and will come get lovin’ when you feed them … to the point of taming them if you wanted to (the calico (Calico pronounced Kaleeko) and black one (HersheyKiss) are siblings and get along well). Then Momma Kitty and Buddy are very feral to the point of having the catch them with live traps. Let me know if anyone has any suggestions on how we can find these beautiful creatures homes. They have been really good to us. 4 of them (Hershey Kiss, PieEye, Calico, and Buddy) have been born here with Momma Kitty and Stubby being the parents of some of them. All of them are fixed except for Buddy – after he escaped the cage when he was little he doesn’t let anyone come near him.
FRUIT:Telling the Girls from the Boys.Just about everyone has heard that papaya plants are male, female, or bisexuals. Actually, it’s a confused group of plants, and sometimes the plants even seem to change sexes. If you have just male or female plants in your collection, you’ll need some of each. Here is how to tell the difference.
Male flowers are produced on longs stalks held away from the trunks. Some male plants eventually produce a few fruits.
Female and bisexual flowers are held flush with the trunk. Look for pollen sacks to determine if the flowers are bisexual.
If you have only male and female plants, you will need one male to about ten female plants for good cross-pollination.
LAWNS: Get Your Soil Acidity Tested.Soil acidity determines the availability of nutrients in the soil. More nutrient availability to your lawn can be achieved just by altering the soil pH. The test can be performed with home kits available at your garden center. For a small fee, you can get your soil tested through your local county extension service. You can get the kit here at Gaia’s. When you receive the soil test results, you may find there are recommendations for lime or soil sulfur applications. Apply treatments as needed to adjust you lawn to the proper acidity.
HERBS & VEGS:The Three Sisters.Below is a fun planting technique that can save space and produce vegetables at the same time. It’s a great project to teach kids how the American Indians planted corn, climbing beans, and bush squash. All you need is a sunny garden spot and seeds of each crop. Prepare the soil for planting with plenty of organic matter and manure, and then follow these steps:
Form a rounded planting site about a foot or more in diameter. Create as many of the mounds as you need, 4 feet apart.
Plant seeds of the three crops, spacing them 2 inches apart in the rounded mounds. Sow 3 or 4 seeds of each.
Water the soil and apply a thin layer of mulch. Water again whenever the soil begins to dry.
While seedlings are still small, remove all but one or two of each crop.
Train beans to climb the corn stalks, and the squash to grow under the corn and beans.
Feed the plants monthly to help produce crops.
The plants should produce corn, beans, and squash at about the same time to enjoy.
BULBS, CORMS, RHIZOMES, TUBERS:Starting Bulbs from Cuttings.A few bulbs can be rooted from cutting to form new plants. These include the achimenes, dahlia, and tuberous begonia. Walking iris and daylilies form little plants on the flowering stem with preformed roots that are ready to grow into baby plants. Cuttings also may be a way to reproduce bulbs just like the original without waiting to divide the bulbs at the end of the growing season:
Fill shallow pots or a tray with vermiculite, and moisten.
Make cuttings 4 to 6 inches long. Where little plants have started to form, remove them from the stems to root.
Place the base of the cutting or small plant in the vermiculite, deep enough so it stands in an upright position.
Keep moist and in a filtered-sun location. Some gardeners encase the containers of cuttings in plastic to maintain the high humidity that promotes rooting.
Roots should form in a matter of weeks. Well-rooted cuttings can be potted and grown until ready for a larger container or the garden.
*Taken from Month-by-Month Gardening in Florida.
September Green Ideas:
WORKING WITH THE SUN: Traditionally, buildings were designed to take advantage of their local surroundings and climate. Thick walls would keep the summer heat out and retain warmth in winter. In hot climates, buildings were painted light colors to reflect the sun’s heat. Windows were small to keep out the sun, and shady courtyards helped keep the interior cool. In cold climates, the buildings were painted dark colors to absorb the sun’s heat. South-facing windows were larger to take advantage of the sun’s warmth. Modern architects are returning to this timeless wisdom. You, too, can use sun exposure and shading to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, instead of relying entirely on mechanical heating and cooling.
Train vines on trellises on the hot side of the house. Keep the trellis at last 6 inches from the wall to provide a buffer of cool air. We’ve done this and it is quite effective, not only does it cool the home but you can see butterflies and hummingbirds nectaring on the flowers! As well as get an insects view of the vegetation from the underside J
Plant trees to provide summer shade and block winter winds. If you go for deciduous (drop their leaves each season) trees, they will provide the additional benefit of letting the sun through in the wintertime.
Fit awnings or movable roof overhands to block out hot summer sun, but allow it in during the winter. Light-colored drapes and shades can also help reduce heat gain. In winter, keep them open during the day to let sunlight in.
Paint your home a light color if you live in warmer climates or a dark color if your winters are long and cold. Special reflective or absorbent roof coatings are also available to help cool/warm your house.
Yarrow, J. (2008) How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. Duncan Baird Publishers: London.