Monday, September 12, 2011

Winding Down or In?

Not surprisingly I'm getting ready for bed about the time the sun is too. I'm fading with the Caladiums. I can't deny the circadian rhythm inside of me. I also start squirreling this time of year. Shorter days lead to more time to think, create and plan. So, what do I want to do next year? What improvements? What investigations do I want to carry out? Well, let's start with the actual events. The potted Caladiums are still doing well, but the in-ground ones have decided to call it quits with the drought. So...time to pull 'em up. Make sure to nab these before you can't recognize where they were. The leaves decompose very quickly. I started pulling them this weekend. I wait until the leaves are browning and I know the bulbs are storage-ready. I have 4 different varieties and started sorting them into separate pots for now. Later I will properly bundle them up for winter in the basement.
All is still well with this lovely gem. 

This is also the time to take cuttings for overwintering plants you won't dig up and will not survive winter outside. For me this includes: coleus, begonias, persian shield, plectranthus, geraniums and possibly some herbs, like favorite basils or mints
This plant was new for me this year and it had some obscure common name (no scientific), but I decided it was a keeper for my back patio hot-tropical gem-tone theme. 

It's also time to collect seeds. I've chopped all the heads off my Joe-Pye Weed. I have gorilla gardening plans to disperse this along a road leading into my hometown.  Leaving my legacy? Below is a million Brown-Eyed Susan heads ready for collecting.

Speaking of collecting...for the first time I decided to collect some lettuce seeds from some wonderful lettuce I grew this year. Specifically, I fell in love with Winter Density. It is a cos-type. When the flowers had turned to parachute-filled heads (like a dandelion) I cut them, hung them upside down in a paper bag and stored them in the coat closet until today. I have a flower bed along the south side of my house that does nothing all winter. So, I chopped up the seed heads, tried my best to rub the seeds out (not sure about this technique) and sprinkled them all over the mulch and watered well. If I get lettuce there- hurrah! If not, I've learned what not to do. 

Other good activities this time of year- buy cheap plants. You can put them in now, water well so they take root and don't frost-heave on you or overwinter in a protected place outdoors or in the basement. Here are some recent purchases, some of which are already in the ground.
A wispy hosta and some lime ajuga. 

I didn't think I liked begonias until I realized (because mom gave me some free ones last year) that they are incredibly easy to grow in very difficult places. So, I got these at Wally-world for $1.50. They will easily overwinter in my basement and I save $ next spring.
It doesn't matter how pathetic they look now. They will flourish next year!

And now for an unplanned, although desirable garden project. It seems my chickens overstayed their welcome in the hood and got the po-po called on them for trespassing. So....they are confined for good (or at least until that neighbor moves). wink. I built this trellis gate to keep them in their yard, which has worked so far, although I don't think they are in love with the idea. 

And lastly, I leave you with this. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend 2 months in Africa. I feel even more fortunate that I was there on 9/11. Why? I didn't have a television, nor internet and only a radio through which I could gain the perspective of people a half a world away from the US. I found myself turning off the radio here every time 9/11 was mentioned this week. I don't want to think about it. I don't want to relive it. I don't want to see the images that played over and over and over on the TV here. What I do want is for us to move on and learn in a way that we have a hard time doing here. I had sent myself a postcard from Africa of what was important to me then. A reminder. The same things are still important to me. I love the picture on this card and I love the message I told myself. It is personal so I won't air it all here, but if you really know me you know that there are many things I find unimportant in this life and an equal number opposite. Obviously, gardening, eating good stuff and being self-reliant are some of those things. I keep this in mind as I continue on my path of learning and in this time of reflection and winding down for the slow season. 

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