By H. Jean Shields
Special to The Breeze
Well, well, autumn did kick in. Evenings are pretty nice. Still hot out there in the sun. Sunscreen is still necessary, and plenty of water for the gardener.
The stores and nurseries are filling up with all kinds of colorful goodies. I miss the old prices, but most of the market looks healthy right now.
Pepper plants are in, will get a tomato plant or two in about another week.
I forgot to mention last week that when you are reading plant tags, you will notice some say VFH. That is a designation that the plant is disease resistant for planting here. My big pepper plant does not say that but it is the same brand I always use and have not had any trouble.
Reading your labels tells you a lot. Do you want a big sprawling plant or
not? Do you want big veggies or smaller veggies?
Plant tags are there for your information, be it veggies, flowers or trees. They will tell you how many days it takes for your veggies to produce. You should not expect that information to be written in stone. Growing conditions and plant care may alter the exact timing by a few days.
Remember to give veggie plants plenty of sun and space around them.
Watering should be regular. Water them in and then depending on the hot sun and drying winds, keep them moist but not wet and never dried out.
Too little watering will result in some cracked tomatoes later on, or just weak vines. Soggy plants will drown and not do well either. They are pretty tough plants so just do as you do any plant - sun, water and space.
Someone asked me a while back about when to pick off the flowers of their tomato plants. Do not do that.
Tomatoes and any veggie plant that puts forth flowers are going to be having a veggie for you, soon.
There are so many potting soils available. If you are planting a veggie, get something for that; flowers and other things need something a little different. You can mix and match and the bags are pretty easy to read and understand.
Be brave and start something. The computer is a great help, neighbors and friends are a big help, too. The library, the Extension Service and the Garden Club are also good places to find help and information.
It was such a beautiful day this morning I'm sure I could hear the clank of tea and coffee cups on lanais all over the Cape. I think these last few days are only tentative temperature teasers but it sure is great. I had to fill the pool this morning also - all the rain we had spoiled me.
One of the good thing about getting out the hose, it gets me over on a side of the pool cage that I am not around much and really a side that needs me more. Grasses are peeking through the new mulch already.
A friend has given me a bougainvillea to transplant into a pot. I never thought one of those big bushy things would ever be here in a pot.
When I complained I had no place for one, she insisted it would grow in a pot.
OK, we will try. It does not look too happy after three days in the courtyard pot, but time will tell. It needs lots of sun and not too much else so that is indeed my kind of plant. More about that later.
All of the heavy rains have probably driven away a lot of fertilizer from around the yard. Now is the time to do some light feeding. It will be a couple of months before we have any cold spells breezing through.
A general pruning of all things should be done by now. You do not want to be heavy handed and cut back so that a lot of new growth will still be tender when the chills do come.
The frangipani trees are losing all leaves about now. They look a bit rusty but that is OK, just let them go. Make sure gardenia bushes are already trimmed for the season, spray or wash off any sooty mold.
Poinsettias can be trimmed one more time now and then no more so they will be In bloom for holiday time.
Watch the paper for plant sales this month - a good place to buy a healthy tree or plant and get expert advice. They are usually held on the weekends. Even if you do not buy anything you will see a lot of new things and can ask a lot of questions.
Happy gardening until we meet again.
H. Jean Shields is a past president of the Cape Coral Garden Club