As is well known to Bermudians, summertime in Bermuda brings relentless heat that is particularly hard on gardens of all sorts. Lawns may easily brown under the scorching sun, and fruit trees and vegetable gardens yield little produce. As a result, the fall season is about rejuvenating the garden, planning for the cooler months, and planting vegetables that will be enjoyed in the season ahead. To be applied between mid-September and the end of November, these tips are sure to help bring your garden to its best.
1. Start by clearing the garden of all old summer vegetables and flowers and replacing any old potting soil with fresh.
2. Treat all planting areas with organic matter, such as composted cow manure, pre-bagged compost or homemade compost.
3. Refresh shrubs and trees by pruning any old or damaged branches and reapplying mulch to the base of each plant to prevent fall weeds.
Tip: This is a great time to start a compost bin. Create compost by layering cut-up garden waste, grass clippings and kitchen waste with peat moss and bagged cow manure. Turn the mixture occasionally and, if it doesn’t rain, sprinkle with water. This invaluable natural fertilizer will be ready to use in about six months.
What to Plant Now
These vegetables, such as beets, potatoes, and carrots, take three months to mature. Plant them at the end of September so that they will be ready for harvesting at Christmas time.
Green beans and lettuce will be ready for harvesting six weeks after the time of planting. Keep this in mind when planning your desired harvest time.
Given the right circumstances, tomatoes can be grown in Bermuda at this time of year. Be sure to plant them after the strongest heat has passed, but before the weather cools down too much—the plants should be put into the ground while the temperature is still above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They will need plenty of water and attention, so make sure that they don’t become dehydrated. Expect to harvest tomatoes in time for the holiday season.
Now is a great time to plant herbs of all types. They are easy to cultivate and can be grown from seeds or seedlings and in beds or containers. The options are numerous and include parsley, oregano, chives, marjoram, cilantro, thyme, and several types of basil.
Plant onion seeds now in order to produce the seedlings that will be needed for the January planting. Seedlings planted in January take two and a half months to mature, meaning that the onions will be ready for harvesting in May.
Make use of last year’s rotten onion plants by planting them as is in the garden. The old plants will yield sets—a process in which each onion splits into four different parts. Like the seedlings, the sets will take three months to mature.
Tip: If planted now, leeks will continue to produce throughout the year, even the summer months. Leeks offer many health benefits and are useful to have on hand, making a great addition to countless recipes, from soups to stir-fry dishes and salads.
Although insect pests are not a serious threat at this time of year, look out for cutworms, which can plague vegetable plants. Despite their name, cutworms are actually the larvae of various types of moth and are similar in appearance to caterpillars. They damage plants by burrowing under the soil and eating the stems, eventually killing the plant. Look out for them at dusk, when they typically begin to feed.