Gardening Wednesday: Cool Weather Gardens and Gall Sightings

Today we have gardening insights and tips from two of our horticulturists: Nick, who tells us about some of the best veggies to plant now, and Dawn who tells us about an unusual sight in nature and why it occurs!

Cool Weather Gardening by Nick Santiago

As we move into the cooler months many might think there’s no more gardening to do , but there are vegetables that can be planted now and harvested in the fall!

  • Lettuce: Lettuce grows quickly and loves cooler temperatures.  If planted now you can expect a fresh salad in about 4-5 weeks.  The colder weather prevents the lettuce from bolting, or going to seed, allowing you to pluck fresh lettuce leaves all the way into frost temperatures.
  • Cilantro (coriander): This herb will grow well in cool climates and like lettuce, cool weather keeps it from bolting.  Keep this herb around to give Asian and Hispanic dishes a fresh taste.
  • Peas: You may think it is too late for peas, but you’d be surprised at how fast they shoot up.  In fact, peas will thrive in the cooler temperatures and get sweeter as it gets colder!
  • Kale:  This tough leafy vegetable is a hardy winter green that, like peas, will get sweeter as the weather cools.  I find it to be a great addition to winter stews and pot roasts!
  • Garlic: This tasty member of the allium family should be planted in late fall and have plenty of mulch heaped on top of it 6-8 inches should be enough to protect the bulbs.  It will overwinter in your garden and grow its roots, then it will pop up in spring and grow throughout the following season.
  • Green onion: Green onions are grown for their fragrant leaves that can be harvested in as little as 20 days.  You can get mild varieties (often called scallions) or use normal onions; just cut the leaves back and use like normal green onion.
  • Radishes: I always recommend radishes to new or impatient gardeners.   With a harvest ready in as little as 3-4 weeks it has a fast turn around and they make delicious little snacks.

Galls, just What ARE They? by Dawn Gerlica

It seems like the theme for this summer has been ‘we never garden alone’. Although recent times have kept us apart more as humans, while working in the garden, we always have birds, insects, amphibians, and reptiles all around us and sometimes they really surprise us and make us smile.

There was a very unusual gall spotted in a swamp white oak along the Tree Allee. What is a gall? Galls are oddly shaped swellings on twig growth in trees. What is seen is actually the tree creating something in response to stimuli or chemicals from a fungus, a bacteria, an insect or mite.

 

This is a pine cone oak gall, Andricus quercusstrobilanus, caused by a tiny, non-stinging cynipid wasp. Some galls are shaped as a little perfectly round ball, others like this, make a specific shape associated with that species of wasp.  Although I think it requires quite an imagination to see this as similar to a pine cone, apparently that is what someone saw when they named it. The pine cone oak gall goes through color changes as it ages so they can be found in red, pink, yellow, and finishing in brown.

Tiny wasp larvae call this gall home while they grow. The larvae will eat the specialized cells of the gall and live protected until they are ready to hatch out as adult wasps and fly off to start the process again. These galls do little to harm the tree unless there is a major infestation so we let them do their thing in peace. Keep an eye out and maybe you’ll see signs of this unusual process.