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September 2012 Garden Tip of the Month

From Master Gardener and Fox Islander Linda Dodds

September Tip of the Month

The month of Sept brings the canning season into full swing with beats, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and corn all ready for harvest. The blackberry bushes are dripping with ripe and delicious berry’s just aching to be made into jam.

However there are many yard maintenance chores to deal with at this time too. Even though you may be getting tired of deadheading your petunias and cutting off dried blooms from cosmos and other tender annuals, keep doing so. The plants will produce more new flowers quite a bit later into the season. A good shot of fish fertilizer now will also extend their beauty and give them quite a boost. While you are deadheading,
just pull off the seeds from the dried blossom’s of cosmos and pick up the seedpods from nasturtiums to dry and save to replant next year. Put them in shallow bowls and occasionally stir them up to be sure they all have a chance to dry throughly. Once they are dried, store them in marked envelopes for planting next spring. I took a walk through my garden on Saturday and spent 9 hours pulling up weeds and trimming back shrubs and vines.

And I have been trying to keep up with cutting dahlias which will encourage new bloomsmuch longer too. Continue to water deeply but less frequently and water early in the morning. This is specially important for tomatoes as they need to dry out long before nightfall to help protect them from getting late blight. If your tomatoes don’t seem to be ripening, cut back on the watering and that may trick the fruit into ripening so it can produce new offspring before the plants dry up and die.

It’s time to start your winter garden if you have not done so before now. Plant lettuce, spinach and beets to keep your salads coming in and cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts for winter and early spring dinners. Any herbs except for basil have already bloomed so no longer focus on dehydrating them as they will most likely be bitter now. But if you have kept the basil clipped back, than keep harvesting it for pesto and to dry in the dehydrator.

Last month featured a recipe for homemade pesto and this month I would like to share another seasonal recipe from my Aunt Olga Tamelia Hoffstead Boldrini. I would like to give her credit for her now, family favorite pickle recipe. I know that today’s modern canning books suggest sealing the jars in a hot water bath but we don’t do it that way so you can decide which way works best for you.

Olga’s Dill Pickles

3 qt. water
1 qt. white cider vinegar (I use just plain cider vinegar)
1 cup canning salt
100 cukes (makes approximately 11 qts.)
2 grape leaves per jar
4 bunches fresh dill with stems
1 hot chile tepin per jar or more if more heat is desired
2-4 cloves garlic per jar (more if desired)

Pack sterile jars with one grape leaf on the bottom, garlic, dill sprigs, Chile tepin and cukes packed tightly within 1/2 inch of top. Bring water, vinegar and salt to rolling boil and boil for ten minutes. Meanwhile, place filled jars in a shallow pan of boiling water and keep hot until ready to fill. Put new rings and bands in boiling water and keep hot until ready to use.
Pour boiling vinegar liquid over cukes and fill – leaving 1/4 inch head space and place second grape leaf on top.. Wipe jar rims before putting on hot lids and rings. Screw rings on tightly and let cool. Test to be sure all jars have sealed before storing. Any unsealed jars must be refilled with new hot vinegar solution and resealed with new hot rings. Store for at least two months before opening.

Happy gardening and happy canning.