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Late summer is a great time to start cool-season vegetables. Insect pests have dwindled and weeds have finished the worst of their scramble for territory.

Easy-to-grow green, leafy annuals thrive best as late-season crops. Annuals establish quickly and live out their entire life cycles in one season, and many of them prefer early-late fall conditions.

Plants in the brassica and lettuce families are excellent candidates for beginners. Here are some growing tips and favorite plantings for end-of-summer gardeners:

Site selection

Pick a spot that gets at least five hours of morning sun. Afternoon summer sun stresses leafy greens, so if you don’t have many options for planting locations, consider shading your beds.

Soil preparation

Leafy vegetables prefer rich, loamy soil. Prepare your garden beds by incorporating aged compost into your soil. If you raised summer crops in your beds, apply a general purpose fertilizer to stimulate early growth.

Most brassicas and lettuce varieties do well in containers, provided the soil is never allowed to dry out, and the containers aren’t allowed to overheat. Established brassicas tolerate light frosts, but should be planted about four or five weeks before your first frost date. Lettuces are more delicate, so be sure to plan their sowing so you can harvest them before your region’s first expected frost.

Be sure to add a general-purpose fertilizer to your soil when your plants are about three weeks into production.

Watering tips

Water leafy green vegetables at soil level, avoiding excessive moisture on the leaves themselves. Try using drip emitters or soaker hoses along your rows or in your containers, and a nice cover of mulch to help prevent evaporation and weeds.

Fall Favorites

Reap the most rewards from your late season garden with flavorful and nutrient-dense brassicas, which are best served sauteed, steamed or as an ingredient in casseroles. For salads and sandwich fixings, select a few lettuce varieties.

  • Collards are a southern favorite when cooked like spinach. For added flavor, saute collards in your favorite broth with bits of bacon and shredded garlic. Space plants 18″ x 30″ (45cm x 75cm) apart. Collards mature in 60-80 days.
  • Kale is a close cousin of collards, with a shorter growing period (50-65 days). Kale has become popular due to its flexibility in the kitchen and high nutrient content. Recipes abound for sauteed kale, kale soups, and even oven-baked kale chips. Thin or plant seedlings at 12″-15″ (30-38cm) intervals.
  • Pak Choi is a favorite for Asian stir-fries, but don’t rule out this tender, mild vegetable as a side dish for your favorite grilled meat. Another rapid grower, pak choi matures in 45-60 days. Space your seedlings 15″-18″ (38-46cm) apart.
  • Green and Red Leaf Lettuce grow in an attractive, compact, round rosettes. Space plants 8″-12″ (20-30cm) apart, and in 40-80 days you can harvest the entire plant, or if you’re impatient, peel off leaves as the plant matures for sandwiches and salads. Alternate plantings of green and red lettuce for a visually stunning garden display.

Pests

With careful watering, fertilization and soil preparation, your leafy greens should avoid common vegetable diseases. Brassicas are more resilient than lettuces to mildew and leaf fungus, but both are susceptible to insect pests.

You’ll want to check to make sure your plants are getting sufficient water each day, so while you’re visiting your garden and admiring the various textures and colors of each of the above leafy vegetables, check among the leaves for caterpillars, beetles, and slugs.

Encore!

Cool season crops are a pleasure to grow and enjoy, whether you’re a veteran green thumb or only just dipping your toes into the water. Put a delicious grand finale to your growing season with these nutritious leafy greens!

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Natural Beauty: 3 Homemade Face Masks For Oily Skin

Oily skin can be the result of many different factors, including diet, hormones, skincare products, and even some health conditions. Homemade face masks can help to control oily skin and do not contain the harsh chemicals, preservatives, and harsh ingredients found in store-bought products. Here are three homemade face masks for oily skin.

Oat, Honey, and Lemon Mask

Oats absorb excess oil and gently exfoliate your skin, helping to remove dead skin cells and dirt that can accumulate on the surface of oily skin. Honey is a natural moisturizer and skin softener that contains antibacterial properties to keep your skin healthy. Fresh lemon juice contains citric acid, which helps to reduce oil production when applied to the surface. Combine these three ingredients for a moisturizing face mask to remove and control excess oil.

First, add 2 tablespoons of honey to 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Next, add the oats 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture begins to thicken. It may take up to 5 teaspoons of oats to achieve the right consistency. The aim is to make a pliable paste that will stick to your face.

Apply a thick layer of the mask to your skin, taking care to avoid the eyes, and leave on for up to 20 minutes. Before removing the mask, use a wet cloth to gently massage the mixture into your face, as this enables the oats to exfoliate your skin. Rinse thoroughly and cleanse your skin.

Fuller’s Earth, Cucumber, and Aloe Vera Mask

Fuller’s Earth clay removes excess oil, tightens the skin, and provides deep cleanse for the pores. Cucumber juice is an astringent that will also help to tighten the skin. Aloe vera gel, another powerful astringent, contains antibacterial, anti-fungal, and moisturizing properties. Mix these ingredients for a cooling mask.

Start by extracting the juice from a fresh cucumber. A juicer is ideal for obtaining the maximum amount of fluid, but you can also use a blender or just mash the peeled cucumber with a fork. You can then pass the liquid through a sieve or clean piece of cheesecloth to remove the flesh.

Take 2 tablespoons of the cucumber juice and add 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel. Next, add the Fuller’s Earth clay and mix into a smooth paste. As a general rule, you need to use 2 tablespoons of Fuller’s Earth clay to 3 tablespoons of liquid, although this will depend on the type and consistency of the fluid.

Apply a thin layer of the mixture to your face and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes. After taking the mask off, rinse, cleanse and tone your face thoroughly to remove all traces of the clay from your skin and pores.

Yogurt, Baking Soda, and Graham Flour Mask

Yogurt contains lactic acid, a natural cleanser that helps to loosen dead skin cells and control oil production. Baking soda helps to balance the skin’s PH levels and is highly effective at reducing the amount of surface oil. Graham flour acts as a deep cleanser to remove dirt from the pores and will also help to bulk out the mask, preventing it from running or falling off.

Start by mixing 2 tablespoons of yogurt with 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Add the graham flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Apply the mask to your face and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off thoroughly and add a thin layer of light moisturizer to rehydrate the skin, as baking soda can sometimes leave the skin feeling dry.

Homemade face masks can be extremely useful in reducing and removing excess oil produced by the skin. However, you may need to experiment with different combinations of ingredients to find the right mask to suit your skin type.

Check out: 3 Homemade Face Masks For Sensitive Skin


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