Looking ahead to Fall

By Conelia Dixon - Contributing columnist

Believe it or not, Fall is on its way! I know, I cannot imagine the trees turning yet, but we, at The People’s Garden are thinking of the fall crops that we will harvest. We started planting in March, so you would think we would be about finished with gardening… but no, we are starting over. Early lettuce and spinach are done, as are radishes, arugula, peas, and we have pulled a couple crops out that have slowed up their production. When the weather gets hot, some garden crops go to seed and so they stop producing or get bitter, like lettuce. The radishes only produce for a little while in cool weather and then they go to seed and get “woody”. We took quite a lot of peas into the pantry and some lettuce, spinach, and garden greens like swiss chard. Green onions are still being planted, because as we pull them, we have room to plant more in succession and give them to pantry shoppers, so we have them all season, from March into the cool fall. Turnips are popular and so we took some of those in too. Turnip greens are good in salad, as are beet greens, swiss chard and herbs.

Well, I mentioned starting over… and some of you might wonder how we do that. We do not empty all the beds, as some things are continuing to grow, like summer squash and butternut squash, tomatoes, and hot peppers. In the beds that we have emptied of the early spring food, we have started planting things that we can harvest for the pantry. Sometimes we experiment with new food or try planting a second crop of things we planted in early spring. I planted beans and turnips, two things that we have not tried as a second crop. They are “up” and will grow quickly. I have them protected with chicken wire fencing stapled to the bed frames. Turnips do well in cool weather, beans like warm weather…we will see how that goes. I pulled the pretty larkspur out of the front flower bed and put in some potted herbs. Michelle planted radishes, arugula, lettuce, usually planted in early spring.

This spring, we did not receive all the tomato plants and hot pepper plants that we usually get from the school FFA groups, but we were blessed with other plants from other generous people and businesses. Kae nursery gave us some sweet potato plants and other miscellaneous starts, and one of their workers even gave us some tomato plants that he started at home. Thanks Luke! I started some basil, Mr. Marcozzi started some things for us, and we ended up with quite a variety, including several different herbs, a few cantelope and one watermelon plant. People do like peppermint, oregano, parsley, basil and garlic. Our garlic was fabulous, planted in November.

We are watching the tomatoes and have seen no hornworms so far and saw only one lonely one last year. The hot peppers are starting to produce for us and we have taken in a few jalapenos and one poblano. There will be more. Green tomatoes are favorites of people in this area. I make pie and fry them and even put them in stir-fry. The tomatillos that are used to make salsa are also called husk tomatoes. We cut down the amount that we planted this year as we found that they grew taller and overflowed their bed last season.

Some odd things that we have are kohlrabi (we got that from Kae nursery, too), a little dill, some Roma tomatoes, strawberries, and okra, which is slow this year, but we expect a lot of the pods in a couple weeks or so. Sweet potatoes are something that we have not grown but since we were blessed with many plants, we planted them and are learning how to protect them and how to harvest them.

I tend to write and write as I am so passionate about what we do at The People’s Garden, so I will end with this: I promised my two co-coordinators that I would make a plea for more regular volunteers. If you have an hour a week that you could donate to helping at the garden, we would be so appreciative. You do not have to let us know. We always have an up-to-date job list on the porch of our beautiful Learning Center, plus my phone number for questions and help in case one of us is not there. Just please leave a small note about what you accomplished and your name so we can thank you. You can come anytime and relax on a bench, donated by Legion Baseball, or sit and rest while working. We have “easy” jobs and “hard” jobs so you can choose. You might see some of our renters out there, Leroy, Ed, Barb, Selina, Sarah, Chester or Carolyn. If you come to the garden for any reason, please be careful on the bank on the west side by the river. Workers have taken out a lot of brush and trees this week and the ground is soft. Stay back away from that, so you do not get hurt.

One last thing, thank you to the hard-working people who worked in the winter putting insulation, wall siding and ceiling paneling up and who helped us get ready for small classes. Sophie, of the Soil and Water Conservation office at the OSU Extension has had some small, safe classes for youth this summer and we are so proud of her for going ahead with this. Tuesday, Aug. 4 Sophie will have another class at The People’s Garden (OSU Extension office in case of rain) called “What’s the Buzz about Pollinators?” Call her office at 937-492-6520 ext. 2589 to register.

By Conelia Dixon

Contributing columnist

The writer is a Master Gardener and a coordinator of the People’s Garden. Reach her at 937-726-9525.

The writer is a Master Gardener and a coordinator of the People’s Garden. Reach her at 937-726-9525.