2007-08-23 / News

The Island Garden

By Roger Marshall

If your garden is getting a little weedy, now is the time to pay attention to it. Harvest any and everything that can be harvested, clean out the weeds before they can self seed and feed the soil if needed. With cooler days you might want to start more lettuce and greens for fall salads, and you might also want to start perennial flower seeds for next season. I find that starting seeds now and moving them into the greenhouse usually gives me much better flowers next season. In fact, I'd say that fall planted flowers tend to be five or six times as large as spring started perennials. The only problem I have is to find a place to put everything and I have 600 square feet of greenhouse space.


Trim and feed your lawn while it is still growing to promote good fall growth. If you bag the clippings you should regularly fertilize. If you let the clippings sit on the lawn, they will eventually rot down to provide nutrients for the growing grass. Expect a resurgence of growth as fall rains hit the lawn and it cools down slightly from summer's heat. At this time of year I like to keep the grass fairly high to crowd out weeds.


Order your garlic now for fall planting. It should be in the ground by mid to late September. Decide where you are going to plant garlic

and get the ground prepared. Add a little high nitrogen fertilizer when you plant to promote early growth. Mulch garlic over the winter with dead leaves. Run them over with your lawnmower to chop them up before using as mulch. If garlic is planted early enough to put down roots, it doesn't suffer so much from frost heaves over the winter.

If you have bare patches that you are not going to plant again, sow winter rye or rape seed as a ground cover to help maintain soil nutrient levels over the winter. Jamestown Hardware has winter rye available. A pound when sown early will cover about 20' x 20'. As the ground gets colder you will need to sow a little more heavily to ensure good germination.

Remember, too, fall is a good time to build that cold frame you've always wanted. Or you can build a greenhouse to shelter your plants. My new book "Build Your Own Greenhouse," can be obtained at any major bookseller and I'd be happy to sign it for you.

Fruit Trees

Harvest apples, peaches, pears, and other fruits as they ripen. Store ripe fruit in a cool place where rodents cannot get at it or make jams and jellies. Process or freeze your harvest. There isn't much else you can do with your fruit trees until they go dormant.

Soft Fruits

By now you should have harvested all your soft fruits. Prune out old canes from raspberry bushes (they're the grey ones that the plant set fruit in this year.) You might want to feed the new canes with a little compost to help them grow, but there's not a lot to do in the soft fruit patch right now, except pick everything.


Make sure your greenhouse has been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized to get rid of insects. Check that the glass is clean and that the heating and lighting systems work properly. Make a first spraying of any plants that are to go in the greenhouse to kill off insects. Be sure to check under plant pot rims for slugs and snails. If you are moving figs or citrus trees into your greenhouse be careful that you do not knock off any growing fruits. If you have tomatoes growing in the greenhouse, you might want to spray for whitefly before you close up the doors. You can also hang sticky yellow traps and shale the plants to organically control whitefly.

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