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Week of September 5, 2016 By Ron Kujawski

I may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I do know there five seasons in the year: planning, planting, maintaining, harvesting, and preserving. Though clearly distinct, these seasons, familiar to vegetable gardeners, frequently overlap. For example, I am still in the midst of harvesting but the bulk of the harvest is being preserved for consumption at a later time. Unfortunately, food preservation in the form of canning, freezing, and dry storage is a lost art, or science if you will, to most people. This I conclude based on the number of times I get questions about preserving the harvest. However, I admit that I am not an expert on this subject and typically refer such questions to my wife, CEO of food preservation in this household. Much of her knowledge on food preservation has come from my mother and others who were willing to share their expertise. In addition, she has garnered information from such publications as the Ball Blue Book of Preservation. Another valuable source is the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Don’t be shy about getting on with these tasks:

  • Dig and divide irises and daylilies.  Since there are so many cultivated varieties of these two perennials it’s great fun to trade these among friends.  It’s also a good way to meet new gardeners.  “Hi!  I don’t know you and you don’t know me but let’s trade daylilies.”
  • Take cuttings from the tips of stems of bell flower, crane’s bill, flax, Jacob’s ladder, Marguerite and Shasta daisy, and penstemon.  Root the cuttings in a moist mixture of sand and perlite.
  • Stop watering amaryllis in preparation for its rest period.  Allow the leaves to dry up, and then cut them off about an inch above the bulb.  Let the bulb sleep for about two months in a cool spot before resuming watering.
  • Complete the seeding of new lawns or overseeding of thinned lawns within the next week or two.  While seeding can continue into October, completing the task by mid-September is better for good root establishment of seedling grass.  An extensive and deep root system is essential is the young grass is to survive the winter.
  • Apply fertilizer to established lawns. This fertilizer application is the most important one of the year since nutrients taken up now support early spring growth of grass.
  • Avoid pruning woody ornamental plants now except to remove dead, diseased, or broken branches.  Several studies have shown that late summer, fall and early winter pruning can predispose trees and shrubs to winter injury. Wait until late winter or early spring to prune woody plants.

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