EECO Farm – September 2023 Newsletter for Gardeners

"Wine is the divine

juice of September.”


                “The Collected Diaries of Voltaire” – Voltaire (one of the many pen names for François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778)   

Ready or not --- here it comes! In fact, it will arrive without announcement or fanfare on Saturday, September 23rd at preciously 2:50 a.m. EDST. We speak, of course, about the end of summer --- conversely known as the official start of Autumn. This is the exact moment when the Sun crosses the Equator heading south, and thus those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere will now begin to see more darkness than daylight.

Regardless of whether it has been chilly for weeks or there are still balmy summer-like temperatures daily, this is the true start of astronomical Fall – which is just a little bit different from meteorological fall,” --- which actually began back on September 1st. That date doesn’t fluctuate like the autumnal equinox does so meteorologists use it to start the 90-day, 3rd quadrant of the annual measurement of the mean temperatures in different climate zones spread worldwide.


Whether these upcoming 3 months of Fall bring us crisp, cool weather --- or perhaps unseasonably warm weather --- depends on many factors. However, in our special case here on the East End, it does help us with the potential latter situation when a very large body of water (which is quite warm due to the Gulf Stream) is located only a few miles from here in any direction. 

Also note that the colorful Fall foliage coming soon isn’t due to current weather conditions at all. This is a common misconception. Instead, tree and bush leaves change color because of the amount of total daylight they receive per day and the effect that lack of sun has on the plant’s photosynthesis process. This is the procedure by which all green plants use sunlight to synthesize and absorb food and nutrients from water and carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis in plants generally involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct.

Chlorophyll is what gives plants their natural green color. Throughout the summer months, trees and bushes store up their nutrients. As the summer ends and the days get shorter and shorter, the trees begin to get ready for winter. They slowly start to shut down their food-making process and the green chlorophyll dries up and disappears. As the bright green color fades away, it seems to be replaced by many shades of duller yellow and/or orange tints. Actually, small amounts of these two colors (caused by the carotenoid pigment) have always been in the leaves all summer long, they have just been covered up and hidden by the dominant green color of the chlorophyll so we couldn’t see them.  

The bright reds and purples we will soon notice (caused by another pigment called anthocyanin) in various tree leaves or “burning bushes” are made only in the autumn. Some trees, like maples and sweetgum, trap glucose in their leaves after photosynthesis stops. The combination of sunlight during the day and the cool nights of autumn then causes their leaves to turn this glucose into various hues of red or pink color. NOTE: The dull brown color of most trees in autumn --- especially elms and oaks --- is caused by leftover chemical/enzyme wastes in the leaves that will ultimately make the leaf rot after falling on the ground and getting wet.

This whole phenomenon of photosynthesis deeply affects everything we grow in our gardens too and there is nothing that can be done to hold back the adverse effects of the plant basically going dormant and falling asleep (in the case of perennials) or just plain dying off (in the case of annuals) --- but you can still plant low-sun/shade tolerant plants that are usually frost hardy too! 

Most root vegetables like rutabagas, beets, carrots, turnips and radishes will do fine in your patch now as they require little direct sun. Fast growing varieties of leaf lettuce, kohlrabi, peas, string beans, cabbage, kale, arugula, Asian greens, fava beans, mustard greens and chard can also be squeezed in before first frost hits --- usually in mid-to-late November around here. Many of these veggie varieties can also be harvested and are quite edible while still in the “baby stage” of growth.  

It’s clearly time to harvest your peppers, eggplants, what’s left of your zucchini/squash, pull in your onions (but leave your leeks for a while) and of course your beans, pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash, potatoes, etc. should all be ready for harvesting and eating soon if not already.

         Many EECO Farm gardeners have also had bumper crops of flowers with dozens of sunflower types blooming all over the place along with Joe Pye weed, golden rod, gladiola, canna lily, Montauk daisy and dahlias coming to the fore. Enjoy making bouquets for your own table or to give to friends when visiting. 

If you are shutting down your garden early, please remove all weeds now and any other seed throwing plants (like sunflowers, milkweed, mustard greens, dill, tomatillo and the like) before they dry out completely and set full seeds --- and then spread to your neighbor’s garden. They may be pretty to look at but many other EECO gardeners don’t want them in their own gardens unintroduced!

All unattended EECO gardens should be brought down to just soil --- either covered or not. Cold frame gardening, however, is not only permitted but encouraged at EECO Farm!

         The Fall season is a great time to still enjoy your gardens --- so get out there!  

         In our October garden newsletter, we will briefly explain how to properly winterize your garden and plant garlic for over the winter.

         Happy Gardening!

                  NOTE: Kindly resist the temptation to harvest fruits/vegetables or pick flowers from other gardens without getting permission first!    

Connect with us!

Facebook  Instagram  Web