Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How does your fall garden grow?

When we moved here, I knew I wouldn't have time to plant much in the spring. So I put my hopes in the fall. The plan was to plant green beans, peas, lettuce, and spinach in the fall, and then to achieve my "full" garden dreams (though, you know, I'm sure to add to those) next spring.

So how is that going?

Beans are doing great. I should have planted them earlier, like right when my first planting of them failed, but I was caught up in things and didn't have much time to break ground. Then I made the mistake of breaking ground at midday on midsummer, and that wasn't so smart. But they're doing fine, and have begun to bloom. That means beans are right around the corner, right?

Next to them, I have a plot for the peas I just planted. I was waiting and waiting for the right time to plant peas, and then someone told me I should have planted them already. So I decided to stop agonizing and put them in already. I only got a little bit planted, but at least we'll see if that was the right date.

As soon as I can finish killing the grass in the rest of this bed, I'll plant more. They might not give me anything, but they'll enrich the soil anyway. This is how I kill grass: I cover it with newspaper, and then weigh down the newspaper with wood chips, cut grass, planters, tree branches -- really whatever I can find. When I pull it away, the ground is SO much easier to dig than it is with live grass. Our grass is knotted together under the surface with tons of runners and is just impossible to get out.

Last weekend I planted a little lettuce and spinach. I'm not sure if it's too early or too late, but the weather has turned and is less hot, so I thought I might as well try. Their bed gets shade after about two p.m. I planted a little of each kind, and will plant more each week for awhile. This way, either I'll have a long harvest, or at least something will survive and I'll know when the right date to plant might have been.

My tomatoes are pretty much done. I've saved my seeds for next year, and everything else I get is gravy. The beefsteak tomatoes have succumbed to their disease, and it's time to take them out.

The Cherokee Purples are doing better, but they're a bit droopy, especially since they outgrew their cages a long time ago. They still have some fruit, though it is much smaller than the first fruit that grew there. It's probably because they've exhausted the phosphorus in the soil (or something like that). Keep in mind this is unamended, plain soil here -- these plants have had no fertilizer (save one application of "Marko-nure" water), no compost, no nothing. Next year I plan to enrich the soil with a lot more organic matter, and perhaps keep some seaweed emulsion on hand if they start to look peaked.

My cilantro has gone to seed. I decided to let it, so that I could find out what coriander tastes like and save some for the winter. I think I'll also take some seeds and plant them indoors in pots during the cold weather, so that I can have delicious tacos all year long.

The basil is still producing away, albeit somewhat smothered by drooping tomato branches. And here is a mint that my dear friend Dr. Thursday brought all the way from Pennsylvania. It's survived great -- in fact, I think it's ready for me to harvest a few leaves for my iced tea!

Anyone else have a fall garden? Or are you fully in harvest mode now?


Fidelio said...

I have round 2 of tomatoes going (round one was consumed in its entirety by Bambi and Co.), can plant broccoli in mid-September, garlic goes in over the winter, and some people do a fall season of beans down here.

Heather said...

Looks amazing. Such patience and strategy! I'm still staring impatiently at my pears and figs and those aren't even trees I tend to - they just grow year after year thanks to whatever my mom did to them years ago. My basil plant is producing away, though.

Anonymous said...

I admire your ambition, Sheila. My tomato plants are still in full production (I planted a bit late) and I'm enjoying them with my fresh basil, parsley and oregano. The mint will prosper and come back next year (probably with a vengeance, make sure it doesn't run wild!). Your fall garden should flourish... the beans should be ok, peas are very hearty and spinach I think actually prefers cooler weather, but you should get a decent harvest. Good luck!

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