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Make sure to scrub garden delights

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By Cheryl Steenerson

T-Shirts and sweatshirts … it’s that kind of weather.
Fall officially arrives this Friday, bringing both the good and the bad.
Those who dislike hot weather, love it. The rest of us, not so much.
Like spring, fall is a roller coaster of weather fronts, bouncing us back and forth between hot and cold, sunny and rainy and breezes and gales. We can be in T-shirts and sandals one day and bundling up the next.
The dogs also pick up a little extra outerwear in the fall.  The other morning, after a few strolls around the garden beds, Tiller came back looking like a Christmas colored Dalmatian. It’s sticktight time, again.
You’ve got to give these little buggers their due, they’re survivors. The little green triangles with a seed inside grab on to anything and hold on tight in order to travel to another site. It’s light dealing with dryer lint and double sided tape. Dog brushes work on my clothes as well as the dog’s coats, in order to dislodge the things.
As we rush to bring in the last of the harvest, we would do well to remember that other, not quite so obvious, things stick to our produce. You can’t see pathogens with the naked eye and those can make us sick.
Whether we grow our own or stop at the store, we need to get all things unseen off our produce before we eat it.  I know it sounds silly to wash things like melons, but their rinds can carry as much stuff as Tiller.
Yes, it’s all on the outside and we eat the inside, but we have to cut it open. When the knife cuts through the rind of a sweet melon, it carries the outside to the inside.  That’s not good.
Sweet fruits are especially susceptible because there is little acid to kill things after they hit the flesh.  Small fruits should be placed in a colander and rinsed with the sink water sprayer.
Spuds, cukes, squash and melons need to be scrubbed with water, prior to cutting. Leafy things can be just rinsed with running water.
We have a tough enough time staying healthy this time of year because of the roller coaster weather.
We don’t need to make it tougher by ingesting things that will make us sick. Next time you come in from the garden or the store, laden with armloads of veggies, think of Tiller and her sticktights and wash everything well.  
Now, get out there and get those chores done.  It won’t be long before the flakes fly and we’ll just be dreaming of T-shirts and sandals.
Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.