Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Garden therapy - A backyard garden update (September)

With a drop in temperatures of about 10 degrees (high now in the 90's instead of over 100 every single blasted day... ), we were finally able to do some serious work in the garden. Up until this weekend, we only had 5 of the 7 beds plants and they were less than half full as it was. Let's just say that 10 straight weeks of 100 degree temperatures aren't all that conducive to keeping anything alive.

But with some rain last week bringing in cooler air, it was time to get busy in the garden. So Sunday morning, Dave and I got up early to plant our fall garden. Here's how it looks...

Bed 1: Until Sunday morning, sage was the only thing growing in this bed. The lambs-quarter was doing wonderfully, but being a weed, it's roots were strangling everything else in the bed. So I transplanted it elsewhere so that I could have my raised bed back for other plants. The roots literally extended to all 16 square feet of available space. I had to be careful to keep from killing the sage. Pshew!

I have four tomato plants ready to go in next to the hog panel, but we're holding off planting for a week or so hoping that the spider mites (formerly of Bed 2) won't spread to the new plants. Cross your fingers... The rest of the bed is planted in broccoli (6 transplants for a bit of a head start and 4 from seed).

Bed 2: The tomato plants we had in this bed kicked the bucket. The spider mites got them. So we tore them out, bagged them, and will send them to the city compost facility where they'll fry in the heat. Sorry little mites... As I mentioned in Bed 1, we'll replant new tomato plants elsewhere in the garden (Bed 1 and extra pots in "the orchard.")

The hog panels were moved forward into the bed a few inches so that I could plant snow peas seeds on either side of it and use it as a trellis. The second row (8 squares) is planted in lettuce. The third and fourth rows are a combination of spinach seed and existing green pepper plants from last Spring (one of the few things that survived the heat!).

Beds 3 &4: Something else that braved the heat all summer were the sweet potatoes. Harvest has begun (one potato at a time) and both full beds will be dug up in late September/early October when the potatoes will be cured for storage over the winter. Once we have the space free, we'll plant carrots, bulb onions, kohlrabi, and red potatoes in these two beds. For a look at these beds, full to the brim with sweet potato vines, check out the photo of Bed 6. They are in the background...

Bed 5: This is the only bed not currently full. I'm saving some of the extra space for a crop of green beans that I'll plant at the end of the month (to stagger the fall harvest). Otherwise, I have lots of established basil and green pepper plants from the Spring and added 5 squares of green onions to the one existing square of onions. The basil has long since bolted, but being a wonderful bee attractant, I'm hoping it'll assist in the pollination of the peppers and tomatoes. The peppers, which up until about 1-1/2 months ago had produced NOTHING, are now covered in peppers. Was it the bolted basil or the pot ash I added to the base of each plant? I have no idea, I'm just thrilled to have peppers!

Bed 6: Days ago, this bed was completely empty. Today, we'll it looks empty, but far from it. It's full of cabbage and green beans seeds.

Bed 7: Well, Bed 7 is full of compost and I fear is too "hot" to plant for now. We're using this bed as storage for compost to be added to other beds until it's safe to plant seeds (maybe in the spring).

The Orchard (kind of...): Ok. We originally had an orchard. We do still have one of the four apple trees (the company will send us three more in the spring to replace them). The heat was just too much, but we've now moved them to the side of the house where they get sun, but not full Texas sun.

The gogi berry bushes, which I thought had bit the dust, rose from the dead after a heavy rain last week. Honestly, I was about to pull them to add to the compost bin when I noticed dozens of little green leaves. They're alive!

Unfortunately, that's all that's left of the orchard for now, so we've decided to make use of the extra pots - 2 tomato plants will go into the larger pots and the transplanted behemoth of a lambs-quarter plant from Bed 1 was transplanted to one of the smaller pots. I swear, you can't kill that thing! It looked droopy for all of a day and now it's thriving.

By next month, there should be plenty to see as all those seeds will become beautiful plants in the coming weeks. We got a bit of a late start with the incessant heat, but before long, we'll be just covered in food. Sounds yummy, no?

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