In September, we gardeners can experience one of the most stimulating times of year. There are fewer bugs so the gardener can have spotless green beans for cooking as the French do it with just a blanching and served with a mustard dressing and almonds. There are the cool-weather crops that flourish in the fall such as lettuce and spinach that would normally bolt during the hot weather. There’s the lovely broccoli that will charm you in a luscious soup with cheese. The extreme heat is almost gone and we can truly breathe. Certainly not the least factor, all this bounty is framed by a great backdrop of fall color in the leaves. Garden and painter friends of mine often boast of our good fortune to have the wide changes of season, especially those coming from the “mono-climates” in some states.
Yes fall is an exciting time and one of great productivity. Many gardeners (and their friends) do a fall display in September but I prefer to wait until October as we herald the coming of the great pumpkins we find in this area and our mountain region. I’ve had it with my summer annuals and pluck them out like the offending hairs in a model’s eyebrow. The exception to this rule is the lovely sun and shade coleus. This year mine are deep reds, oranges, and greens–a perfect component of the fall display. Just make sure the coleus have plenty of water. Good rose care will prompt a fall “last hurrah” with my English roses. I dead-headed the roses and provided a time release fertilizer in August in anticipation of this yearly event. I’m looking forward to the yellow of “Graham Thomas“, the red of “William Shakespeare“, the delicate pink of “The Pilgrim”, and the creamy apricot of “Abraham Darby” with its special scent of melon and lemon.
Another component of September is the coming of the local fairs. The Cleveland County Fair is close enough for Gaston County residents to visit with just a short drive. This is an old fashioned fair complete with vegetable and fruit competitions in both canned and fresh categories. I start saving calories in early September since the smells of “Fair Food” tempt the most Spartan dieter. There’s barbequed pork prepared with red sauce and pink slaw, funnel cakes with fruit and chocolate syrup, cotton candy, candied apples, corn dogs, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, Philly steak sandwiches, and my favorite, Italian sausage with a savory topping of grilled onions and peppers. Yes, I remember my goal to eat more healthily, but come on, it’s the fair! The fair also features livestock such as cows, pigs, goats, emus, ducks, and those strange little chickens with puffs of feathers standing up like crests on their heads and feathered feet. Don’t forget the art competitions for both adults and children, and the many craft displays and competitions. Dare to venture to the many “rides” available.
Time and space prohibit more elaborate descriptions of September in out area but suffice it to say you can get the best weather and many occasions for enjoying the pleasures that gardening can bring. The days are getting shorter, so maximize your afternoons outside. Take a walk in the early morning and get a little “preview” of that revitalizing nip of cool air. Most of all, enjoy this season and the delicious food of the fall garden, then, if you’re game, make a trip to the fair.