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Enjoying the fruits of your labor

September 3, 2009
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaegher

Do you toil on Labor Day? At our house, the toiling happens more so in the kitchen, while the house smells just delicious of spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove while we also can up whole tomatoes and other things, ready for the canner.

I love to make the first chili from the garden with fresh tomatoes. Although, the young master gardeners have yet to see the wonderful fruits of their labor and how they equal into how chili in the early fall can taste, they so daintily try out what is better. Tomatoes with salt or tomatoes with sugar? (Sugar, of course!)

We work and labor in the garden all spring and summer, now we can take the weekend to enjoy our gardens since frost is certainly not far away, though it may not be a big killing frost. There are all kinds of lore on when the first frost will come. The new one to me is so many days after the first thunderstorm rolls in the area, while others say six weeks after the goldenrods have started to flower. Then there is something to do with the full moon and such and such a day from that time on. I think what this all equals to is how long do we have before we retire from the garden for another season.

Tulips, daffodils and crocus bulbs can all be planted now as soon as they show up in the stores. The earlier you can plant them, to allow the roots and plant to establish itself under ground, the better the plant has a chance to bloom in the spring. A little trick that we use at our house is that sometimes it is very difficult to decide which way is up on the bulb. Can't decide? Just lay the bulb on its side and Mother Nature will take it from there.

Plant the bulbs according to the depth that is written on the side of the package. You may want to use some small marker so you know where to look next spring for those new plants that you are planting now. If you are like me, you might find yourself wandering the garden in the springtime, looking like some crazed person to your spouse, muttering to yourself and kicking at what is left of the snow, trying to figure out just where you planted this or that. And just why isn't it coming up yet?

The beginning of the end of our short season doesn't mean that we can toss it all in and just forget about those weeds that are over there or those plants that can be transplanted over here. We still have plenty of work to do - just without the added stress of getting so hot and sticky as we do in the middle of July.

The young masters and the queen bee of the garden will tell you the best is yet to come with eating apples off of their own trees while they swing in the cool autumn sunshine. You can't get any better than that!

For more information on gardening, you can email me at



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