Make the Best of Borrowed Garden Time

We're on borrowed time in the garden, and I'm keeping a close eye on plants that promise to bloom, fruit, unfurl or dry on their stems.

Hydrangea m. 'Endless Summer' in late June
Hydrangeas are on my radar, including the dozen or so heads of 'Endless Summer', all in various stages of bloom. Back in early April I cut back the tallest stems on two plants that receive about three hours of direct sun each day. The lower stems, which are afforded a sheltered existence by virtue of their proximity to the ground, had viable flower buds at the time. Those began to show color in mid-June, and offered a handful of blooms in a pale lavender through mid-July.

Hydrangea m. 'Endless Summer' with Hydrangea p. 'Vanilla Strawberry' in mid-September

By early September, the stems I'd cut back in April had produced new blooming stems that began to treat me to a series of blooms that's still going on today. In the next two photos you can see the progress of the blooms in a two week period. Things have slowed down quite a bit as the days shorten and cool off, but 'Endless Summer' is putting on quite an impressive fall display. Perhaps not impressive by east or west coast standards, but I'm not complaining.

Hydrangea m. 'Endless Summer' with Hydrangea p. 'Pinky Winky' in the foreground on October 1.
Hydrangea m. 'Endless Summer' with Hydrangea p. 'Pinky Winky' in the foreground on October 15.
And of course I am watching the nighttime temperature forecast so that I can pick my tomatoes. I'm still harvesting the grafted 'Pineapple', and a good number of cherry tomatoes as well. 'Pineapple' is a monster, producing fruit that more than fills an average hand. The strange thing is that it forms its fruits in clusters. This time of year, I remove each tomato as it begins to turn yellow so that the nutrients the plant produces can go to its smaller partner growing on the same stem. The photo here shows a good sized tomato that has begun to ripen and its green, joined-at-the-stem buddy that I mistakenly cut off along with it. The pruners are there for scale and the smaller tomato at the right is a smaller 'Pineapple' tomato that shows its gorgeous blushed yellow coloration upon ripening.
A week's harvest from one grafted 'Pineapple' tomato.

Succulents have small root systems and
loathe damp soil.
As days continue to shorten, plants dry out a lot more slowly. For some, like the potted plants, it's a good thing. But for those succulents I plan to bring indoors, cold and wet create a recipe for an uphill battle toward good health. I've found that no matter how well-drained your pot's soil is, it is never a good thing to bring in your potted succulents when they are wet, or even damp for that matter. The reason? It's hard to provide enough heat to dry the soil out to the level it requires.

Damp soil is an ideal environment for fungus gnats and other bothersome creatures that harass your cacti and succulents. And if the plants have yet to grow into their pot as is the case with the group in the terracotta pot at left?

Since it's my pot I'm talking about, I'm shuddering to think what might become of these little guys with their equally little root systems knocking about in this large pot. If they aren't allowed to dry out somewhat before I bring them inside, I'll have to put them on a heat mat, which helps somewhat, but time will tell, and I'll write about how it comes out in a few months.

Meanwhile, this has been my entry for GARDEN BLOGGERS BLOOM DAY, in which garden bloggers from around the globe check in with a view of what is going on in their particular corner of the world in which they grow things. GARDEN BLOGGERS BLOOM DAY is hosted each month by Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens--a happy place where fairies voice concerns to garden beings who lend their specialized expertise to the imaginative blogs written by a fellow Hoosier (that's someone who lives in Indiana) and friend Carol Michel. Please seek out those blogs that speak to you and your interests. Take from them what you need, want, or like, and leave the rest--as Carol's fairies are fond of saying--to grow.

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