SOUTH CENTRAL MASTER GARDENERS
DONNA ADRIAN, writes about the activities of the South Central Master Gardeners. "I took Master Gardener training in 1995. The trainees then formed South Central Master Gardener Group. We have been active ever since, having monthly meetings and enjoying a good time sharing and doing projects. In 2009 I started working with Rosebud Extension Gardening Project to promote gardening on the Reservation. I write bi- weekly articles on timely garden interests which is sent out to about 130 interested gardeners, then I send out the articles to about 12 area newspapers, along with our South Central Area master gardeners. I am member of Mellette County Chamber, Historical Society, Cattlewomen and Extension. My husband Bill and I are active in ranching and a home business."
It is time we think we need to cut back on our watering, BUT watering those trees, shrubs and perennials in the fall is important to get them ready for winter. They need at least an inch a week until the ground freezes.
So, what are you doing with your green tomatoes still on the vine? There are several suggestions such as picking the nicest ones, wrapping them in newspaper, putting in a box in a cool place, I have tried this and eaten my last ripe tomato for Christmas. The vines can be pulled and haul them to the garage, hang them up, and pick as they ripen. I do not like this mess to clean up so what I do is pull the vines, shake the tomatoes off in a pile in the garden. I will lay down cloth, newspaper or card board, you would think they would bruise, but they don’t. Pick Cover the pile with a heavy rug, tarp or something to protect them from the frost. The ripe ones can be picked out every few days. On a hot sunny day they can be uncovered. Before total freeze up pick out the nice one to take into your window sill to ripen. This leaves all the mess right out in the garden to decompose over winter.
No one likes worms and other pests in their fruit trees! A simple cleanup now can reduce the unwanted pests next spring. If you didn’t get the early spring fruit tree spraying done, you will have trouble with the pesky worms coming up the trunk next spring, (getting in the fruit and making the fruit fall premature. I happened upon this remedy accidently this year; the worms were inside my plums and peaches. I started spraying the trunk and branches with soap and water mixed in sprayer every other day, and it worked the worms were defeated and I picked over 400 pounds of peaches from my tree. Dandelions and creeping jenny are still actively growing; fall is a good time to knock out the broad leaf perennials with a herbicide. Spray when it is 60-70 degrees and about a 5 mph wind, with no rain expected for 24 hours, and do not mow for several days.
Finally you garlic lovers need to get your garlic in the ground at least a month before the ground freezes. Some people plant cloves from the grocery store but ordering from a favorite catalogue is recommended to assure success. Plant cloves 5 inches apart about 3 inches deep, add compost and mulch about 3 inches
And, just for fun....
If you are being tempted to dig up a tomato and bring it into your house, there is an easier way you may want to experiment with and have a little fun trying this.
You may be familiar with starting new perennials and shrubs from cuttings, but you may not realize that veggies can be started this way, too! The tomato plant, in particular, lends itself easily to cutting propagation.
One of the advantages of propagating tomato plants by stem cuttings is that it can take tomato seedlings (started from seed) 6 to 8 weeks before they reach transplanting size.
If you keep tomato cuttings warm, the transplanting time frame is cut down to a mere 10 – 14 days.
Even if you’ve never tried propagating plants with cuttings before, you’re practically guaranteed success. Tomato cuttings are such incredibly easy rooters, they will even root in a cup of water,although the plants are stronger if they are rooted in soil.
What you’ll need:
• 6 inch long tomato cuttings from the tips of the plant
• 4 inch clean containers
• Potting soil that had been dampened thoroughly
• A pencil
How to start tomato plants from cuttings:
1. First, you want to fill your 4 inch containers with the dampened potting soil.
2. Take the 6 inch cuttings and clip off any flowers or buds. Clip off the bottom leaves leaving only two leaves on the cutting.
3. Make a hole in the potting soil with the pencil–you don’t want to be trying to shove the soft stem into the soil.
4. Put the cuttings into the soil and press the soil up around them. Make sure the places where you cut off the lower leaves is buried.
5. Keep them in a warm place, but shaded form any direct sun. I prefer a kitchen window to protect them from the elements, but where ever they are protected is fine. A plastic bag (tent) will help retain the moisture for the leaves until they root.
6. Leave them moist and in this spot for about a week.
7. You’ll then want to gradually expose them to stronger light until they are in the sun for most of the day. This may take another week.
8. At this point you can transplant them into the a large pot, where they will continue to grow and produce some lovely tomatoes for you!
Have fun trying this now, so when spring comes you will be confident in starting your own tomatoes. If your are lucky to keep it going throughout the winter, you will have your plant to start propagating for your spring garden.
I have never tried to overwinter a tomato, but I have rooted them. If you try this, let me know your results.
Donna Adrian, SDSU Master Gardener
Rosebud Extension Service
224 East 12th Street
White River, SD 57579
You might want to check out http://mightymushrooms.com/?page_id=253 for additional information and photographs. (P.S. Do this with your children/grandchildren in the spring!)