By now there have likely been a few casualties in your garden. But like the Boss says: “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact.” It would be a shame to let those containers gather dust until next spring, though, so clean them out, find some fresh, fertile, nitrogen-rich dirt, and get your brassica veggies growing.
Thanks to climate change, Philadelphia was recently promoted to a new zone on the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Chart. The chart is the standard gardeners and growers follow to decide which plants are most likely to thrive in their geographic area. One of the benefits (if you can call it that) of this climate-change-spurred promotion is that Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage and other members of the brassica family aren’t restricted to early spring plantings anymore. In fact, they’re good candidates for fall replacement plantings, if you don’t mind a little gambling.
Fear that cooler temps and shorter days will put an end to your garden-fresh produce? Fear no more, my friends, fear no more. The time is ripe for an office garden.
One of the upsides to container gardening is that crops are less likely to succumb to soil-borne illnesses. Unlike traditional farmers and gardeners, container gardeners have the option of starting with fresh, sterile soil each year. If last year’s crops lost the battle against blights, wilts or mildews, then it’s smart to ditch the dirt, sterilize some containers, and start anew. Sadly, that’s rarely enough to keep a garden hale and hearty—every year, it seems as though my garden gets hit with one affliction or another, despite the clean dirt. Prevention is paramount, but when that doesn’t work, witches’ brews and sacrifices to the garden gods are in order.
I confess. I judge books by their covers. I’ll happily lay down an extra couple of dollars for the bottle of wine with the well-designed label. And yes, this unfortunate tendency extends to my little garden. For the past several years, containers sprouting heirlooms with awesome names (Mr. Stripey, Dragon’s Egg, Boothby’s Blonde, Painted Lady) and gorgeous packaging have taken up every available inch of dirt. Alas, the packaging often seems to be better than the yield.
by Char Vandermeer
It’s easy to become overly attached to the herbs you’ve been growing all summer long. It seems a shame to leave Winston (the English thyme) and Ami (the tarragon) out there alone to confront winter’s whims.
By Char Vandermeer
By mid-August, you probably know what works in your garden and what doesn’t. But fall is falling and seed catalogue season is a long ways away—this can lead to a case of the late summertime blues.
Tending to tomatoes is a tumultuous affair
Let’s call the whole thing off, shall we? No matter how you slice it, tomatoes are tough. Every summer I’m ready to throw in the towel, swearing that the seductive fruit will never again wind up on my deck.
But that would break my heart.
A guide to helping cucumbers and melons get their groove on
by Char Vandermeer
If summer were a taste, it would surely be cucumber—or maybe muskmelon. They’re both little bursts of sunshine on the vine. While your planting space may be limited to a few pots or a tiny patch in a community garden, that doesn’t mean your taste buds should go unfulfilled. Philly may prove to be a tough habitat for these fussy vines, but that just means they’ll require some extra attention.
Happy together: Companion planting can increase the yield and the health of your urban garden
by Char Vandermeer
It’s time to dust off those planters, rinse out the watering cans and get some dirt under your nails. If your garden looks anything like mine—a sea of containers atop a South Philly roof—then you’re constantly struggling to maximize your growing potential without strangling your plants in their pots.