August Gardening; Tomatoes, Fertilizing and Garden Predators. August is a busy time in the garden, enjoy your time and your rewards.
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I had the pleasure of going on a garden tour a few weeks ago through one of the most amazing private garden I have ever seen. The garden was designed, planted and cared for by one woman. I plan on doing a post next week to show you some of the areas, plants and I just hope that my photos will convey to you guys this amazing cultivator and her garden. After the tour I got a chance to sit down and talk with the gardener and we talked about my blog and she asked “how in the world do you come up with what to write?” Well, that sometimes is a problem and I said “I usually write about what is going on in my own garden” she replied “the only thing I would write this week is fertilize.”
Even though she is a woman of few words she was right. I started bringing up a few wheel barrels of compost to the kitchen garden where I lay a thin layer on top of the soil and then use a garden rake to work it in. If you do not have a compost pile, no worries, I would recommend the use of the commercial product line Espoma. They make a fertilizer for every situation: Plant-tone, Rose-tone, Holly-tone, Lawn-tone etc. These are slow release fertilizers made of varying percentages of things like bone meal, blood meal, cottonseed meal, alfalfa seed meal, and corn gluten. All wonderful for our plants to help them through the winter months and to make a strong showing in the spring. I fertilize perennial beds, shrubs, and small trees with these products. You can get Espoma from almost any garden or hardware store.
I have gotten a few emails and comments about why tomatoes are not ripening. It definitely has been an inadequate year to harvest tomatoes around these parts. Finally at the start of August my cherry tomatoes started to ripen and over the last week my other indeterminate variety finally started to turn, they take 70-85 days to ripen, which is 20-30 days longer than the determinate variety. However, with that being said I am way behind on my tomato harvest, many fruits are still green. This is most likely do to the wet spring and low temperatures we have received around this area.
In a last-ditch effort I have removed about 1/2 of the green tomatoes from each plant. Hoping that the plants can use more energy ripening the remaining tomatoes. The pesky squirrels have been helping me do this by stealing whole green tomatoes off the plants and running off with them to enjoy all over my yard. My chickens are enjoying this immensely because they find the scraps to finish off. Tomatoes for everyone but Amy.
Another trick is to take your green tomatoes remove the stem and place them in a box in a single layer touching each other add a banana and store box in a warm slightly humid spot out of direct sunlight for a week or two and your tomatoes will ripen. I have never tried this trick but I most likely will this year.
Because I am an organic gardener I am quite happy to find spiders in my garden. The benefit of spiders, snakes and frogs in your garden are endless.
Making the garden hospitable to spiders, and allowing them to biologically control garden pests, is all part of gardening chemical free and being as natural as possible.
Nothing eats as many garden pests as spiders do (except maybe bats). A spiders appetite is voracious eating an endless supply of bugs. Having the chance to watch them in the garden can be a little spooky but rewarding. Knowing that you have allowed nature to take care of business of bug control, without spraying damaging chemicals is gratifying. If you see a web, try not to knock it down if it is not in your path. These little creatures can spend all day rebuilding a web after it has been damaged in the hopes of catching yet another meal.
Just for giggles I took the picture below and showed it to my husband. Female Agriope spiders, which are very common stay in one area their whole lives and I have been lucky to have one in the kitchen garden for the last three years. While the ladies stay in one place the males must go in search of a female, building a small web near or actually in the female’s web, then court the females by plucking strands on her web. Often, when the male approaches the female, he has a safety drop line ready, in case she attacks him. After mating, the male dies, and is sometimes then eaten by the female.
Gotta love her!