Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
September 2020 Volume 8 Number 9
Upcoming Events
Anytime, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summit Master Gardener Sprinfield Coffee Chats were conducted via Zoom. Here are some of the recordings.

What’s Bugging You! IPM in the Veggie Garden

Now thru October
Countryside is now open at Howe Meadow! Pre-ordering is still an option, but pick-up will no longer be curbside at Old Trail School. You must walk up to the farmers’ market at Howe Meadow and pick-up your orders from each individual vendor(s). Find out more at https://countrysidefoodandfarms.org/countryside-curbside/
Were you looking for something to do?
  • Collect, dry and store seeds for next year (see below for how-to info)
  • Harvest and cure winter squash, gourds, onions, garlic and potatoes (Hint: leave a small portion of the stem attached to pumpkins, winter squash and gourds to improve their storage life)
  • Clean up the garden
  • Thin fall crops
  • Watch the weather (first killing frost can happen this month) and cover warm season crops as needed
  • Enjoy the lingering summer weather and anticipate the beauty and colors of fall
The Master Gardener Hotline is Closed until further notice BUT you can email your questions to mgsummitcounty@gmail.com
You can call our Horticulture Hotline to ask a garden-related question and get advice from our experts.
Just call 234-226-6633 
Hotline Hours: Tuesday: 9:00 am - noon, March through October
You can also get Master Gardener advice online anytime by submitting questions at  Ask a Master Gardener
Five crops you can plant now and harvest in 30 days!
It is not too late to plant crops for this year. There are varieties of lettuce, spinach, radishes, kale and arugula that can be harvested in as little as 30 days, sometimes as baby greens.  Check the dates to maturity on the seed packets and choose those that are the shortest. Depending on when we get our first frost, you may be able to harvest into November. (According to the National Weather Service the date of the average first freeze (32F) is October 19.) So find an empty patch in the garden and plant something!
Pinch off the flowers on your tomato plants
UMass Extension notes that tomato fruits require eight to nine weeks to ripen after flower set. So flowers that form after Labor Day will not have enough time to produce fruit that will ripen before frost. Removing the flower clusters that form now will let the plant channel energy into the tomatoes already formed and give those fruits a greater chance to ripen.
Seed Saving Simplified
There are numerous reasons to save seeds. One benefit is cost savings, but there are other perks, including being able to save seeds from your healthiest, tastiest plants. Seeds from these plants will have the characteristics of their parent plants and, over time, while the vegetables will be true to type, a strain personalized to your taste, region, soil and climate, will be developed. While there are exceptions, many hybrid seeds will not reproduce true to type. Seed-savers generally recommend starting with open-pollinated, heirloom seeds. These plants will produce seeds that closely resemble their parent plants.
With some fruits, such as tomatoes and squash, the seeds are allowed to ferment in their own juices for a period of days and then repeatedly rinsed before drying. For vegetables such as beans, the seeds need to stay on the plant until they are brown and drying before removing. For leafy veggies, herbs and some brassicas, the vegetables are allowed to fully flower, pollinate and form pods before removing to dry.
The tricky aspect to seed saving is the possibility of cross-pollination. Lucky for the home gardener, many of our favorite veggies are self-pollinating.
Seed saving tips:
1. Make sure seeds are completely dry (refrigerate in airtight bags or glass jars with a packet of 2 heaping tsp of powdered milk wrapped in cheesecloth or 4 layers of facial tissue)
2. Harvest seeds from fruit that is fully mature
3. Keep pests or mice from invading your seed (place seed in the freezer to kill any insects present)
4. Always label seed with type and date
5. Don't allow seeds to ferment too long (too much soaking can cause seeds to germinate or rot)
6. Don't force the drying process (low oven temps can cause seed to lose viability)
7. When ready to plant, remove the seed containers from the refrigerator and keep closed until the seeds warm to room temperature to avoid moisture condensation.
8. Accept the fact that some seeds won't germinate the following year (sweet corn and parsnip seeds, in particular, have low germination rates).
FINALLY, don't forget that you can save leftover seeds that you purchased this year, saving you money next year.  According to the Colorado State University Extension Service "all vegetable and flower seeds will store on a shelf at room temperature for at least one year without  significant loss of germination."  
And you can prolong that by keeping them cool, dry and dark (think the opposite of what they need to germinate).
Goldenrod hangs with bad crowd, gets a bum rap
Many people wrongly accuse goldenrod of causing their fall allergies. But it is a bum rap. Goldenrod is showy, but its pollen is too heavy to be carried by the wind and the flowers must be pollinated by insects. Ragweed, however blooms at the same time and often in the same area. Ragweed has insignificant flowers and its pollen is carried by the wind. It is ragweed that causes the allergies. (26% of Americans are sensative to ragweed pollen!)

There are more than 100 species of goldenrod native to North America and since they bloom long after many plants have stopped flowering they are an important late-season source of nectar and pollen. There can be more than 1,000 flowers on a single plant. According to Doug Tallamy from the University of Delaware goldenrod provide food and shelter to 115 butterfly and moth species in the Mid-Atlantic area alone, along with more than 11 species of native bees. Monarch butterflies depend on goldenrod for nectar for their long migrations, and in winter songbirds eat the seed heads. So now you know--goldenrod are nothing to sneeze at!
Too many Tomatoes?
We wait and wait for our first tomatoes to ripen, then all of a sudden we have so many ripe that we don't know what to do with them. Then, with fall and frost coming we have lots of green tomatoes still on the plants. What to do!

As far as the late-summer bounty, the University of Wisconsin has a PDF publication "Tomatoes Tart & Tasty" that includes procedures and recipes for safely preserving tomatoes. If you are going to try preserving, it is important that you use up-to-date recipes from reliable sources. Food safety is too important to you and your family. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has current research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation such as freezing, drying, canning, pickling, and jams and jellies. Look under the "How do I?" section in the left-hand column for the topic that interests you. You can also check under the publications link, for publications like the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2015 revision. You may also want to look into So Easy to Preserve, a 375-page book with over 185 tested recipes, along with step by step instructions and in-depth information for both the new and experienced food preserver, available from the University of Georgia. 
For the green tomatoes still on the vine there are some things you can do as fall approaches to push them along. Pinch off the growing tips of stems to encourage the plant to put energy into ripening fruit. Just don't prune off an excessive amount of fully formed leaves as these supply nutrients to fruit. Remove flowers; new blossoms won't have time to set fruit before frost and by removing them the plant can focus its energy on what is still on the vine. (Standard sized tomatoes require 40 to 50 days after blossom set to reach maximum green size.) Same thing with very immature fruit; pick them off because they will never mature before frost. As the first frost approaches (mid-October for us) pick the fruit that is starting to show color and bring them inside to ripen. This will push the plant to ripen those still left on the vine. And finally, keep your eye on the weather. Cover your tomatoes on cold nights to keep them going a bit longer. But according to Colorado State Extension, "research shows that chilling injury on green fruit occurs at temperatures of 50 degrees and decay losses rise markedly on fruit exposed to 40 degrees F. Red ones well on their way to ripening tolerate colder temperatures."

Once frost is imminent, pick your tomatoes with a very short stem piece left on. Stems ripped out of fruit will open them to decay. Do not try to ripen really green fruit as research shows it's more likely to spoil than ripen and never develops much flavor. You can use green tomatoes for tomato pickles, tomato relish, green tomato mincemeat, stewed green tomatoes, green tomato pie, and green tomato marmalade. Mature green fruit, on the other hand, will develop good flavor. Mature green tomatoes are well sized and have turned light green to white. If cut open, seeds are encased in gel and no empty cavity space is present. Ripen tomatoes in well-ventilated, open cardboard boxes at room temperature checking them every few days to eliminate those that may have spoiled. Mature green tomatoes will ripen in 14 days at 70 degrees F and 28 days at 55 degrees F.
Colorado State Extension suggests sorting and storing fruit by groups that will ripen at similar speeds. Fruit may be mature green, "turning" with a tinge of pink color showing, "pink" with 30 to 60 percent color showing, "light red" with 60 to 90 percent color present, and "fully red" but not soft.
Store mature green tomatoes at 55 to 70 degrees F. Once fruit is fully ripe, it can be stored at 45 to 50 degrees F with a relative humidity of 90 - 95%. Recommended refrigerator operating temperatures of 40 degrees are certainly too cool to ripen mature green tomatoes. Ripening enzymes are destroyed by cold temperatures whether in the garden or in a refrigerator.
With a little luck and planning you can have home-grown tomatoes well past frost! 
Speaking of Tomatoes, How about some Cold Tomato Soup?
Rutgers University shared this recipe for Garden State Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a summertime classic from the country of Spain, and is a great way to use produce from the garden.
Garden State Gazpacho
Makes six 1-cup servings
  • 6 large, ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled & chopped
  • 1 large red or orange bell pepper, seeded & chopped
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar Fresh basil, to taste
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, or to taste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
Other options:
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • Fresh cilantro instead of basil
  • Lime juice instead of lemon juice
Preparation Steps
  1. Wash all vegetables thoroughly.
  2. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, pepper & onion in food processor & process until fairly smooth.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients & season to taste. Serve chilled.
Still Speaking of Tomatoes, it is OK to store ripe ones in the refrigerator!
Conventional wisdom has been that it ruins the flavor or ripe tomatoes to store them in the refrigerator. But Cooks Illustrated magazine did a taste and found no difference in flavor between whole ripe tomatoes stored on the counter and those stored in the refrigerator. BUT THE TOMATOES MUST BE RIPE, SINCE COLD DESTROYS THE RIPENING ENZYME. The KEY BENEFIT to those stored in the refrigerator was that they kept up to 5 days longer than those stored on the counter. The same works with cut tomatoes, but since they can pick up flavors from other food in the refrigerator they should be wrapped or kept in a closed container.
Be on the lookout for
hornets, yellow jackets and wasps
You may notice more hornets, yellow jackets and other wasps at this time of year, as their colonies are getting larger. You may find nests in the ground, in old railroad ties, tree stumps and even on or in your house. Be careful when pruning since hornets often build large grey-papery nests in trees or shrubs. Yellow jackets, hornets and other wasps can sting multiple times. Many wasps are attracted to meats and sweet beverages at outdoor gatherings, so be careful.
and old windows
Cold frames are noting more than a box that is open top and bottom. The sides are often made of wood, but cement blocks and straw bales are also used. The bottom rests on the ground or on a raised bed and the top is covered with glass or plastic. Old windows, storm doors or sliding glass doors are often recycled into cold frames. Just be sure to build your box to fit your cover. If you can't find used material you can also make a frame and cover it with plastic. Your cold frame should face south, toward the sun, and should have a slope from back to front of about 1 inch per foot of length to maximize solar gain. Your cold frame will also need a prop to hold the cover open. On a sunny day your cold frame can overheat and cook your plants. Used double-hung windows are great since they can be opened and closed to allow venting.

You can use your cold frame to grow crops like spinach, kale and lettuce well into November. Then, in the spring you can use it again to harden off your seedlings before transplanting them. For more information and some tips on construction see Cornell Extension's Cold Frames & Hot Beds and Illinois Extension's Cold Frames Extend the Garden Season.
Quick tips
  • Modify the "days to harvest" for your fall crops. Cooler temperatures and less sunlight mean that you should add about 2 weeks to your schedule. And don't forget to factor in a harvest period too.

  • Do your jalapeno peppers have cracks on them? Those cracks are often called "corking." According to the University of Maryland Extension: Jalapeno pepper pods develop very superficial cracks regardless of weather conditions. The cracks usually begin to appear as the pods turn from green and black to red. The cracked tissue becomes calloused and eating quality is not affected. The cracks form because the pepper is growing faster than the skin can keep up. They are like stretch marks! UC Davis notes that: For U.S. markets, corking (corky striations on the fruit surface) is considered unattractive. However in other markets, corking is a recognized characteristic of certain cultivars...." In many countries corking is considered a good thing, so do not let those cracks keep you from enjoying your corking good peppers. 

  • According to Ohio State University Extension's Farm to Health Series: red tomatoes are known for large amounts of the phytonutrient lycopene, a type of carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color. Lycopene acts as an antioxidant in the body and may reduce inflammation. High tomato intake is related to reduced risk of prostate cancer and possibly other cancers, as well as heart disease. Lightly cooked and canned tomatoes are a good option for optimizing lycopene content. However, there is some loss of vitamins A and C. Vitamin C is better preserved when canned or cooking liquid is consumed. Eating tomatoes with a little oil can help your body absorb the lycopene.

  • If you are like most of us, the leaves from your kohlrabi go right into the compost pile. But according to Cook's Illustrated the tender young leaves can be added to salads for a peppery bite. The more mature leaves and stems can be cooked like collards or kale, and they have a similar flavor. As for the bulb itself, after the skin and tough layer underneath has been removed, the bulb can be sliced thin and sprinkled with a little salt as a snack. It also is great with dip. It can also be used cooked, but Cook's recommends quick cooking, like a stir fry, to preserve flavor. In a soup or stew, add it at the end of cooking.

  • Blanch a whole stem of basil in boiling water for 6-8 seconds (this stops the leaves from breaking down), then pinch off the leaves stack them, and roll them up like a cigar. Wrap the "cigars' in plastic or wax paper and freeze in an airtight container. To use them, unwrap and slice thinly cross-wise into ribbons for pasta or pizza.  

  • No need to cook your tomatoes for sauce. While your pasta is cooking dice some fresh tomatoes and put them in the bottom of a large bowl. Add some extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, ribbons of fresh basil, salt and pepper and toss gently or mash together as you prefer. When the pasta is done, drain it and dump it on top of the tomato mixture. Let it sit for 5 minutes to warm through, then toss to mix,sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve.  
A little bit about growing Cover Crops
Cover Crops are plants that are grown to help improve your soil rather than for food. Cover crops store nutrients as they grow, which they then return to the soil when they are turned in. While they are growing cover crops help prevent soil erosion, reduce weed problems by choking or shading them out, and can provide a home for beneficial insects. Working cover crops into the soil also adds organic matter, which improves the soil's structure, which in turn improves the soil's nutrient and water-holding capacity. 
There are a lot of cover crops you can try, but for first-timers Cornell University recommends ryes. Cornell notes that "Grasses are easier to grow than legumes such as clover because they germinate more quickly and do not require inoculation." 
Annual rye "is a vigorous grower with an extensive root system that occupies the same root zone as the garden plants." Because annual rye does not survive the winter it is easier to work with in the spring. But, for the same reason, it needs to be sown early enough to get good growth before frost--mid August to early September. For those areas of the garden that are still producing you can sow rye while the crop is still in place. The cover crop can become established while the vegetable crop is still in the ground.
Winter rye is better for late planting, and can be sown into October. It will overwinter, and so may be more difficult to work in in the spring. One approach is to till it in. It is also possible to cut it short and cover it with black plastic for several weeks before planting. 
To plant cover crops, just rake an area smooth, scatter seeds at the appropriate rate for the cover crop you are using, rake again, and water gently. 

For more information see Michigan State's Benefits of Cover Crops in Urban Farms and Gardens
Some helpful links:

Submit questions online to be answered by Master Gardener Volunteers at  Ask a Master Gardener
OhioLine Yard and Garden provides fact sheets and information on a variety of gardening topics. 
The Michigan State Tip Sheets,and the Cornell Growing Guides also offer lots of gardening information that is suitable for Ohio gardens.

Buckeye Yard and Garden onLine provides timely information about Ohio growing conditions, pest, disease, and cultural problems. BYGL is updated weekly between April and October.