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Autumn Descends

I went outside yesterday and it was fall.

Pretty much like that. Wham. The day before had been summer, without much question, and today it was fall, and that was the end of the matter.

The air was cool and damp instead of hot and muggy and I looked at the garden and instead of thinking “Oh christ, what a mess!” I looked at it and thought “Oh christ, what a mess, I must fix it right this minute.”

That’s the sign right there.

Our weather went from scorching drought to torrential rain. Everything is squelching. The tomatoes couldn’t take take the shift and rotted out. I cleared them out this morning, along with a watermelon that had served its time. (It would likely have produced another melon or two, but we’ve had enough watermelon for awhile, and it was trying to eat the basil.) I had previously taken out the crookneck squash, which would have happily kept going all fall, but again…enough is enough.

The garden looks very bare without them. It’s all peppers and basil and ferocious nasturtiums and Mexican sour cucumbers. And the scarlet runner beans, of course, which ate the deck and the world and which I had to savagely chop back from eating the blueberry bushes.

Brought in a couple of handfuls of jalapeno and Anaheim peppers, which Kevin is slow-drying in the oven. The house smells of peppers, and we have the windows open, so it also smells a bit of leaf mold and you can hear the birds squirping in the trees.

I have decided that one of the native sunflowers needs to go. It’s a gorgeous plant, but it flops like the devil, and it’s on so many little stalks that staking is just an exercise in torment. I shall relocate it to the drainage ditch out front, where it can spread with great enthusiasm and get seven feet tall and fall over and no one will care. I’m thinking chokecherries for the space. It wants something tall and open, but not floppy, and I’ve got a couple of chokecherries in pots back here looking for a home.

There’s a stage of gardening when you’re just thrilled anything will grow, and then there’s the stage after it when you realize that you have the power to uproot a happy plant because it is the WRONG plant for the spot. I am moving—slowly—into that stage. It’s a bit scary.

Moved a couple of loads of mulch. Fought the Japanese stiltgrass. I think that’s the next big scourge here. Successfully ID’d a couple of plants growing wild, however, and am delighted to see more native camphor pluchea (probably descended from my big one) and the native annual partridge pea, which is about the only thing that will grow through the stiltgrass. There’s also something called “beefsteak plant” which is a non-native escaped-from-cultivation plant, aka “Chinese basil.” I am not thrilled with it, but it’s a minor concern besides the stiltgrass. (Scraping the drive and clearing trees from the sides made a big ‘ol stiltgrass bonanza, and it’s completely overgrown the area I was hoping to keep as a wetland. The trees and shrubs are still managing, through, so I’m hoping they’ll make a difference and that I’ll be able to get stuff well established next spring before the stiltgrass gets going.) Still not sure how to manage this.  I’d need a whole team to clear out all the stiltgrass by hand, and we do not do pesticides on a wetland area.

Working on mulching the final path. This fall I will finally get the patio dug, goddamnit. That’ll make a difference. Once it’s in, I can layout the last bed, and start in on ground covers. If I can just get some solid groundcovers down, the weed load drops significantly, and I can make holes for shrubs and perennials. I’m having good luck with a prostrate St. John’s Wort called “Appalachian Sun” that’s native to this neck of the woods. The Meehania croaked anywhere it got any sun at all, but does great in the shade under the hose connection. Green-and-Gold “Eco-Lacquered Spider” continues to be a rock star, and I’ve plunked down enough woolly thyme to make a small herbal mammoth.

I don’t want to get too ambitious in the garden until I get back from my trip next week, but I’m definitely feeling the hey-it’s-another-growing-season-get-your-ass-out-there-and-plant twitch. Starting to worry about the garden being TOO big and being too busy to keep it up, too, but that’s another post and hey, for that, there’s always mulch.



Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

There’s a stage of gardening when you’re just thrilled anything will grow, and then there’s the stage after it when you realize that you have the power to uproot a happy plant because it is the WRONG plant for the spot. I am moving—slowly—into that stage. It’s a bit scary.

My main problem as a gardener is that I passed directly to stage two, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, do not give have a verdant and lush garden.

I suspect it comes with the 'designer' and 'frustrated perfectionist' territories. My housemate tries valiantly to remind me that plants are not furniture and I shouldn't rearrange them so often. (If only he'd remind me to water occasionally, the reminders might do some good -- I think I lost three different natives this year, all of which I thought were established, because they weren't quite and the end of our summer has been so damn dry).

Definitely feeling the 'yard is too huge, plans are too grand, life is too full' problem. I'm hoping the fall weather brings the get-off-your-ass-and-work garden twitch for me, too, because I'm sorely lacking it at the moment.

I have a really, really hard time moving plants once they're in the ground. It just really never crosses my mind as an actual thing I can do.

I know what you mean about fall being here. This morning I needed my fleece pajamas when I took the dogs out--it was COLD! And the cold felt wonderful.


If I left stuff alone it might actually grow.

If your beefsteak plant looks anything like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perilla it is delicious, but may not be good for eating anymore due to having turned into a weed (something about not being under cultivation takes all the flavor right out).

I was blown away when I realized that the plastic grass stuff in cheap sushi was trying to be fancily-cut shiso leaves.

Yes. If it is shiso you can offer the leaves to your local sushi bar. It's great with mackrel.
It's a course mint. Spearmint is a cleaner taste, but it is edible.

I bet a goat or two would take care of that stiltgrass right quick.

How would you limit them to just the stiltgrass? They'll eat nearly anything down to the roots, given the chance. I thought about goats for one problem we had, but there would have been too much collateral damage.

Now I have a almost irresistible urge to go trim the rosemary (which is slightly smaller than a Porsche) into a mammoth.
I also now a a need for a picture of an herbal mammoth.

I'd like to see a pic of that rosemary

Maybe get a goat or two to chomp stilt grass? Just to slow it down...

> a watermelon that had served its time. (It would likely have produced ..., but .... it was trying to eat the basil.)

[VegyTimes] The Biting Pear of Salamanca's rural cousin "The Basil Munching Melon of Pittsburo County" was released from custody today and is expected back on the set of "Grapes of Wraith" to finish production dispite persistant rumors of unsavory herb abuse throught shooting this summer.

Edited at 2012-09-10 10:32 pm (UTC)

I have now got a mental image of a watermelon with very large teeth chomping down on the basil and alongside them the red runner beans chomping through the deck in a Pac-Man like manner towards the quivering, terrified blueberry bushes. To cap it all I can now see you in full Martial Arts rig duelling with the Japanese Stiltgrass.

In my mental Universe, gardening is Dangerous!

PS Does this help with the Stilitgrass?


Well, at least you can eat the beefsteak plant (perilla aka shiso). And it usually pulls up pretty easy.

I don't understand how it has escaped the way it has in some areas, because it can be a sonovabitch to start!

Were I anywhere near NC I would totally volunteer to help tear up stiltgrass, but alas I am in eastern Washington, so no such luck.

It's interesting that right after Scalzi's post with you accepting a Hugo, you posted. :)

It is great weather--I am ready to get out and garden! Does anyone have a suggestion for a North Carolina native flower that can survive poor drainage and full sun? There is this one spot I can't get to grow anything.

I'm still dealing with the damned honeysuckle and wisteria that's run rampant here. And the grass. Can't get it to grow in the yard, but it took over the flowerbeds this year. Not happy about that.
At least (most of) the spiders are gone so I won't be screaming every five minutes and flailing about.

I feel like there should be a way for local gardeners to team up to solve each others huge problems. One week a month, you go after a thing together! This week, stilt grass. Next month, screaming buttweed.

I had to google "screaming buttweed". I approve of this renaming.

Fucking stiltgrass. If you do decide to have a pulling party count me in. Otherwise... damn that stuff is hard to get rid of. I think the seed bank is supposed to be insane, too. I don't know if this would work at all, but perhaps covering some of the larger, denser areas with a tarp or groundcover temporarily? Just until it's sun deprived enough to die off and then quickly replanting with something non-invasive to beat out the next generation of seeds. You could probably do this in sections, too. The only other thing I can think of is if there is a drought again next year and that area drys up in the height of summer, maybe you could spray it then. From what I understand, the main concern with the use of glyphosate in wetlands is it's effect on amphibians, yes? I'm not as into current trends in invasive plant control since it's not my job anymore. :( I know that glyphosate is *supposed* to break down quickly, but I don't know if would hang around in the soil and then affect any tadpoles that might grow in puddles formed there later. You can lower the risk to the ecosystem by using just diluted glyphosate, not a mix with surfactants like Roundup. The surfactants are often more harmful than the glyphosate itself.

The article I just read suggested something called "Rodeo" which is approved for wetlands, but I'd have to read more about it. I'm cautious, though, because it's growing in and around plants I am somewhat fond of. I suppose I'll figure something out, although it may just be to haul in the clumps of Virginia buttonweed that are going nuts elsewhere and see if they'll outcompete. *grin*