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Oh, these cool nights are heaven. The dogs and I have been enjoying the moonlight and the quiet summer sounds. They chase critter smells and I watch the stars. There is something different about the air as summer comes to an end.
The humidity has dropped, so that you don’t feel like you’re wearing the air. The mosquitoes aren’t swarming your ears, so you don’t have to constantly swat them away. In a word, it’s relaxing. The worries of the day go away and you find yourself just enjoying the moment.
Though many of us still have plenty of garden work to finish before the cold arrives, there is less frenzy to get it done. My produce stand is now closed for the season. I’ll miss seeing everyone’s smiles and hearing about their lives, but winter must come, if only to kill off some bugs.
Now that September has arrived, we can start a new to-do list. It’s time to dig and divide those spring flowering bulbs, cut back the old bramble canes, fertilize the strawberries and take cuttings for over-wintering tender plants indoors.
If you still want to garden, you can put out the cold-crop plants and increase your homegrown harvest yields. Lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, spinach and other greens do well as fall crops. Shoot, I’m still harvesting summer crops.
I’m looking forward to Labor Day because I plan to do a lot of it. I’ll be laboring in the garden harvesting beans and tomatoes and then putting them up for the winter. The only thing I don’t like is spending daylight hours inside the house, while preserving my goodies.
Listening to a book on tape or CD helps. I can learn new things, travel back in time or try to solve a mystery, all while standing in my kitchen. Time ceases to exist, except when the timer goes off for the pressure cooker.
The kitchen counter changes over from being a seed collector to jar holder. The colors of summer come into the kitchen and piles of future compost go out. It’s like watching the cycle of life in one room.
If you haven’t collected seeds for next season, get hopping. You can’t save hybrids but you can all the others. Sunflowers, cone flowers, hibiscus and a variety of natives are showing their seed heads now. Gather the seeds (but leave some for the birds) in an envelope or jar and mark the name and year.
When gathering vegetable seeds let them dry on a paper plate. Just be sure to write the seed name on the plate so you can keep your varieties straight for storage in the envelopes. You’ll save money on seeds for next year.
Speaking of seeds, did you know that in 1948 they offered seed packets of dandelions for sale? It’s true. People actually planted them as flowers. My, how the world has changed since those days. I still like them. I enjoy the free color and eat the greens. Those leaves have more iron than broccoli.
Now, start planning for the winter and contemplating the summer’s trials. Just don’t forget to take time to enjoy the moment. You only have this minute once in your life, so enjoy it. Happy growing.
Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.