AUTUMN IS HERE and chores need to be done before the temperature really starts to drop.

AUTUMN IS HERE and chores need to be done before the temperature really starts to drop.

Garden season doesn’t have to end when fall comes

It's fall, time to plant your garlic and National Organic Week. Who says the garden season is over?

It’s fall, time to plant your garlic and National Organic Week. Who says the garden season is over?

Had to know fall was coming pretty soon. Days are getting shorter and temperatures have been dipping. Have unearthed my sweatshirts from the depths of last spring. Throwing on a plain ol’ T-shirt is just not cutting it in the morning anymore.

But I refuse to let John fire up the woodstove. Save the wood for when it really gets cold. And besides, I have not brought my houseplants inside from the front porch and they will need at least a week of unheated house to acclimatize to indoor conditions again.

Checking my records for the first frost date in 2012 … yikes! It was on Oct. 4. Literally just around the corner the way days seem to fly by in this family.

Might have some leeway if this year follows the 2011 trend with a frost date of October 14. But if there is one thing a gardener learns, there are no guarantees on anything happening in the garden according to what is planned.

So I had best get a move on with my fall chores!

And those chestnuts better start falling pretty soon. I have to separate them from the leaves for the compost because they do not break down.

Nature really helps with this chore as most of the chestnuts always fall before the majority of the leaves drop off the tree the morning after the first hard frost.

So in reality, the chestnut tree is an awesome indicator of the first frost date approaching. I usually have about a week to gather up the chestnuts before the leaves smother them completely.

Better get on with planting my garlic too! Time is running out if the first frost date is going to be early again this year.

Garlic is always better sown in the fall than spring as it should go through vernalization. This means it needs to be exposed to temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius) for six to eight weeks to induce good bulb formation.

For first time garlic growers: amend the area where you will be growing your garlic with compost as they are heavy feeders. Separate the cloves, leaving the skin on. Plant the tip end up two inches (5 cm) deep and six inches (15 cm) apart. Cover with a thick layer of leaves or straw.

So, who knew it is the fourth annual National Organic Week this week from Sept. 22-28? Never too late to celebrate everything organic in my book. Something we should be doing all year round…embracing those foods grown without pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics.

But it is always nice to have a date, or dates, set aside where concepts or practices are placed front and centre for everyone’s attention.

According to a survey conducted by the Canadian Organic Trade Association, the organic market has tripled in value since 2006 to an incredible $3.7 billion in 2012. Pretty awesome when you factor in the impact the recession has had over the wider economy.

The survey also revealed 58 per cent of Canadian consumers are buying some organic produce every week. Closer to home, the numbers add up to two-thirds of consumers in B.C. buy organic-labelled groceries on a weekly basis.

Want another interesting fact?

Organic foods are the most regulated in Canada right down to their labels. This makes them the most translucent food source available to consumers.

So do something to celebrate National Organic Week…and the Autumnal Equinox. Munch on an organic apple as you walk around the garden enjoying the fall colours. In between planting your garlic and catching up on the fall chores, of course!

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca and her column appears every second Thursday in the Record.

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