I spotted this lovely gold and dark purple seasonally appropriate container combo at Fiesta Gardens recently. While I am generally not a fan of the traditional seasonal mixed container, this one is a simple concept with a limited colour palette incorporating unusual plants like the ‘Red Boar’ Kale centre piece that is edible and insanely inexpensive if you start it early in the year. Even still a plant that size at this time of year runs between $6 and $10. I would guess that the price of plants for a container like this (not including the price of the container) would total approximately $50-$100. It’s pricey, a little out of my league — I’d replace the Heuchera with something cheap like black or yellow pansies to lower the cost.
Plants: ‘Red Boar’ Kale [centre], Chrysanthemum [middle ring], Heuchera ‘Black Beauty’ [edging].
Dear Fellow Humans of the Internet,
How do I remove black Sharpie from the surface of a white ‘Lumina’ pumpkin? Is there some kind of Home Economics meets McGuyver solution that I can employ that is also wholly non-toxic?
Thanks in advance,
Dear Favourite Local Garden Centre,
Why did you use a permanent marker to price the pumpkins? If I were slightly more anal retentive I would consider this Holiday Display officially ruined. Ruined! Instead I’ll probably just turn the pumpkin around and curse you silently under my breath.
Me (aka Total Sucker)
Dear Unknown Mammalian Creature Who Ate My ‘Long Island Cheese’ Squash,
I hope you enjoyed the succulent, immature squash fruits procured from my garden because next year you get nothing. NOTHING! Next year I will be sure to protect my baby, fertilized pumpkins with some kind of barrier device. Next year I will produce my own delightfully shaped pumpkins and will not be reduced to purchasing a white, $2.99 pumpkin ruined by permanent black marker.
I curse you,
The human who kept you in food all summer long.
What a pleasant surprise discovering that the ‘Fatali’ Hot Pepper I started from seed in the Spring of 2006 (1 1/2 years ago) finally produced those adorable little wrinkly peppers I couldn’t wait to see. ‘Fatali’ is supposed to be one of the hottest known hot peppers with a heat that rivals ‘Habenero.’ I’m too afraid to actually try it and will have to enlist a friend to do the taste-test.
I don’t know why but this is the only variety I have ever grown that did not produce in its first year. In fact all it did last summer was put out leaves and stems without a single flower bud. The growing conditions were right and every other plant went berserk with fruit… the answer to this quandary continues to elude me.
Not one to give up, I brought the plant indoors last Fall once the temperature had dipped, nurturing it in a window with Southern exposure, then moving it to a space under grow lights when the window ledge grew too cold. Come late spring, once the last frost date was in the clear and warmer temperatures were on the way, I moved it to a protected spot outdoors, gradually shifting it closer to a full sun position once it was used to the hot sun and wind (this is called “Hardening Off”). The plant looked a little sad at first having been deprived indoors but quickly bounced back with fresh leaves a trim from my shears.
‘Variegata’ Hot Pepper
You can try overwintering just about any hot pepper indoors, including plants that have already produced a crop that year. I’m thinking about bringing in some of the attractive ornamental varieties I grew this summer. Space underneath the lights is always tricky around here but I just can’t bear to see those beautiful plants wither up and die outside.
Break out the apple cider and make some treats, Fall is officially here.
And while the weather is happily still very late-summer-like the signs of autumn are everywhere, especially in the harvest. One of the farmers had pie pumpkins at the market this week. I’m realizing now that I should have bought one. An unidentified mammal ate every single developing ‘Long Island Cheese Squash’ off the vine growing in my community garden plot this year. Boo. Hiss. I had one fertilized pumpkin developing that I thought might have a slim chance but it was gone when I went to check up on it yesterday. Next year I will have to construct some kind of mammal-proof barrier around the little pumpkins. I am saddened that there will be no delightfully flat and scalloped homegrown pumpkin to set on the counter before turning it into a pie.
Next on the agenda is a batch or two of apple and mint jelly and I’ve been toying with the idea of trying my hand at pickled watermelon rind. I already have the apples, mint, and watermelon, now I just have to work up the energy to make it all happen.
Today was a dry and mild reprieve from the awful cold, wet and sometimes windy late fall weather we’ve been enduring here in Southern Ontario — a good day to do some garden work. I have found frozen water in the trays underneath the containers on the roof a couple of times recently increasing my concern about getting everything cleaned up in time. You can pretty much forego cleaning up in-ground gardens (I know because I have) and expect minor plant loss, however container gardens in these parts can’t be ignored. The heaving caused by freezing and thawing conditions will crack and destroy terra cotta and some plastic containers. I’ve got A LOT of containers out there and would like to keep the collection I’ve cobbled together for as long as possible.
Here’s what I do to clean-up the container garden:
- Bring houseplants and plants that are still producing fruit indoors – I did this back in September well before the first frost.
- Harvest remaining produce – I found a couple of missed tomatoes, sweet potatoes, hot peppers, and a few small red onions.
- Remove all plant matter from terracotta and small containers – Cut them into manageable pieces and compost. If you don’t have a composter put them into garden waste bags for city composting.
- Remove stakes from containers and pile together.
- Dump soil from pots that will be stored away – I dump all of my soil into the large, plastic garbage cans that are used for growing tomatoes. They stay outside for the winter.
- Hardy perennials can be safely overwintered in large planter boxes – I sometimes add a blanket of mulch or dried branches, but they do just fine regardless. You can prune them back if breakage is an issue, but the plants in my boxes are so tough I leave the stems for added interest. The birds like to perch on the branches on mild winter days searching for seeds to munch on. They also collect dried grass bits for their nests come spring.
- Soak and scrub all terracotta pots and containers that are too fragile for outdoor storage – I wash mine in hot soapy water to which I add a couple of splashes of oxygenated bleach (aka hydrogen peroxide).
- Over-turn, stack, and store your pots somewhere sheltered such as a garage, basement, or shed. I don’t have any of those so I stack mine on shelves in our hallway and tuck the treasured containers away in the back of kitchen cupboards.
Related: Preparing Your Garden for Winter