Calling All Gardeners: 3 Must Do’s for an Outstanding September!
Posted on September 12 2019
Gardening is a year round activity here in Zone 7.
If you are not familiar with the way things work here I will tell you I am not one who follows the stat quo. I like to mix it up. Sometimes it’s intentional while other times it is natural. I love growing my own vegetables and I never want it to end. So I deviate and join a small group of gardeners who freeze their butts off to learn how to grow in the snow.
For now let’s focus on the time before we need the snow boots. Fall, the glorious colorful time between hot and freezing. The time we must also along with Mother Nature make the transition. It is time to plant colder weather crops but also focus on preserving summer’s bounty.
So what opportunities are there in the garden during the month of September? There are many. If you are time conscious like me you must choose your favorites. I never consider gardening as work and it reaps so many rewards. You reap what you sew. That is what motivates me to go to a place I love the most, the garden of Ambro.
So let us dig.
1. Plant Arugula
My top favorite green to grow and for two reasons. It’s peppery and delicious. It’s by far the easiest thing to grow from seed. Arugula is also one of the fastest seeds to germinate and mature in about 30 days. Get yourself a large packet of Arugula seeds because you will find yourself loving to grow it.
How to grow arugula:
It is so simple to sew. I take a piece of driftwood or the handle of a rake and drag it through the dirt to create long mini trenches about two inches deep. Arugula seeds are very small and round. I like to sprinkle them into the the base of the trench and somewhat generously. Create a thin solid line with a flow of constant sprinkling seeds. Give them a healthy watering for the next three to five days and your arugula babies will be popping through the soil as bright green sprouts. It’s refreshing to grow arugula because it’s so easy to grow. It’s a stark contrast from the usual because gardeners are regularly plagued with plant disease and hungry insects.
2. Plant Spinach
Spinach is one hearty leaf. It really should really go in the ground August but as I mentioned earlier I’m on my own schedule. I enjoy experimenting with this insanely hardy vegetable that has proven to survive even the deepest of freezes even at a young age. It’s incredibly rewarding when you are harvesting spinach mid-winter and let me tell you a little secret I learned and no one knows about. Growing anything in the winter tastes better because it grows much slower which results in a more intense even better flavor. Many gardeners don’t know this because they aren’t as crazy as I am. Sometimes you are chipping away at mini glaciers out there to keep things in check. The temps are brutal sometimes but it’s amazing how plants adapt. If they can do it so can we!
How to grow spinach:
This nutritious deep green leaf is a little more finicky to sprout in any temperature. It will not germinate in dry soil so be sure to keep the dirt moist for at least a week straight. Spinach seeds are a little bigger and rougher in texture. Dig your mini trench and follow the directions or do like me and double it by sprinkling 4-5 seeds per inch. They should pop through the soil in about 14 days or twice the time as the arugula.
3. Dehydrate Your Fresh Herbs & More
There is nothing like it. When it comes to flavor and freshness it is worth the effort. Let’s be real, I dehydrate herbs when I’ve got a few free minutes before I’ve got to head out and start my day. Remember though, the dried herbs we purchase in big box supermarkets have nothing on your own fresh herbs preserved at home in your own kitchen. Even though your fresh home grown herbs are dried they taste exactly the same as fresh picked. Even after the process the flavor of the fresh herbs remains robust. Trust me it is worth the prep! The dehydrator will do most of the work! Follow my lead.
How to dry your own herbs:
You need a food dehydrator like this one which I ordered on Amazon for around $50. They come in a wide variety of options so make sure you find the best fit for you. I like the Nesco because it was well priced and has a temperature gauge which offers more control and drying options. Once you’ve got your dehydrator chop down your herbs and cut into manageable pieces. You will also want to clean them well even if grown organic. I am lucky to have several birds who frequent the garden but they also poop! I do a quick double wash using a simple salad spinner. The spinner also works as a great drying tool. It’s important whatever you are dehydrating is not wet or damp. Once you’ve got your herbs trimmed, de-stemmed, washed and dried they are ready to be put in the drying trays and put in the dehydrator. Be sure to follow the directions and set the correct temperature for whatever you are drying. For herbs and hot peppers 115 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit for about six to eight hours usually does the job. Each dehydrator works differently and it will take a try or two to learn its temperamant. If you need a place to put your herbs try this glass spice jar shakers set. It comes with a marker, erasable chalk board stickers and a useful funnel! The funnel will save some mess.
If you are a gardener and you haven’t tried my favorite must do’s for September I implore you to give them a go. There’s nothing like preserving your own herbs and crunchy fresh greens on your table. Give it a shot and see what cold weather greens will grow.
P.S. I just reordered the set below. The Lolla Rossa and Swiss Chard in this seed collection are going in first! I love the colors of their leaves and stems.
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