September is a special month for the fact that you can enjoy the crisp smell of autumn in the morning, and summer sun by noon. After a memorable summer spent outside, September brings a welcome season of transition.

September also marks Organic Week, Canada’s biggest celebration of organic foods from the 12th to 18th. As part of the celebration, you can join us this Friday for an online presentation of “Tips and Tricks” for organic gardening, hosted by our friends at the Canada Organic Trade Association.
September is when we start tallying the scorecard for harvest successes. After moving houses mid-planting season, Ben’s community garden “corner plot” has faced greater than expected pressures from weeds and foot traffic, while Mark’s second year garden is showing massive improvements after his substantial investments in soil health. Not to make a competition, but the smart money would be on Team Mark for this year’s harvest. 

Get your garlic in! It’s tempting to cook with your juicy homegrown and recently cured garlic, but make sure to put the biggest and healthiest cloves aside for replanting. This is one crop where you will reap what you sow. Add a generous quantity of compost to encourage next year’s crop.

Compost everywhere – if you have it. Now is also the time to distribute whatever finished compost you have, starting in the veggie beds, followed by perennials. It seems there is never enough to go around, so consider starting a compost pile or adding to what you have. To do so you want a ratio of 5-10 parts “brown” material to each part of “green material”. Brown means high-carbon fallen leaves, mulch, newspaper, or cardboard and green is the fresh grass clippings and kitchen scraps you might add.

Cover up. If you’re looking at bare soil anywhere in your garden, get a cover crop in to improve conditions for next year. Annual rye and clover mixes are widely available and do a good job. A “dead mulch” of shredded bark or straw works too, as long as you aren’t leaving those beds open to soil erosion over the winter.

Cold crops keep coming, and will keep coming well into November if you have younger crops that you are willing to protect. If you don’t already have one, consider setting up a cold frame or row cover to protect these crops from frost. There is still time before last frost, but these projects are good for an afternoon if you are going to build from scratch. 
The investment in new varieties this past fall appears to be paying off, as the Ontario crop of kidney, navy, and black beans are looking better than ever.

Our first grower, Johannes Knapp of Bayfield, has already harvested his dark red kidney beans which are looking excellent.

We experimented with an early harvest at higher moisture content (20% vs 15%) to minimize splitting through the cleaning process, which appears to be paying off.

Looking forward to seeing how these healthy looking beans will can.