Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fall edibles

Newly planted fall garden next to the garage.
This bed next to the garage has been sitting fallow for the summer. I've buried kitchen scraps, as they became available, about six inches under the surface, until about four weeks ago.

On Labor Day, our unofficial beginning of fall, I planted some cool-weather crops in wide rows and some sugar snap peas at the base the three tomato cages. There was no trace of the kitchen scraps as I rearranged the bed, only good black garden loam.

The sugar snap pea seeds are old, so
I planted three at the base of each leg.
The sugar snap peas are four years old, so I planted three at the base of each leg of the cages to make sure we'll have enough. Ultimately, I hope to grow twelve vines. There is a small swale at the base of each cage to capture more water--both rain and irrigation.

On the far end of this bed is my stand of Egyptian walking onions, a couple of plants of garlic chives, and some native meadow garlic, which is to the right of the walking onions and is still dormant at this time. It should be coming up in the next few weeks.

To the right of the onion bed, behind the garage, there are three rain barrels on a four-foot high platform. You can see the PVC spigot in the top photo. I use a hose, which drains from all three barrels, to hand water these vegetable beds. Very handy and so much easier on my back than lugging watering cans from my other rain barrels.

Across the path are three solar heat tomatoes, which I planted as seedlings a month ago and have just starting blooming. It would be nice to have a good fall tomato crop. The butternut squash, which roamed all over this bed, is done for the season and I'll harvest all the squashes tomorrow when I'll also prepare that bed, except where the tomatoes are growing, for more fall crops.

The butternut squash is done for the season between its leaves being eaten and attacked by some type of wilt. I'll harvest the squash tomorrow and begin to prepare this bed for cool-weather crops.

Aren't gardeners a little like "The Gambler"?

Instead of:
"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run."
gardeners chant this:
You got to know when to grow 'em, know when to yank 'em,
'Cause they're not gonna fruit for ya and know when they're done
You got to make room for more crops, know when to dig 'em,
Know when to plant away and know when to mulch.
And then there were the bell peppers...

In the beds behind the house:

Bell peppers: wilted in the morning after a good rain--not good.
Early last week, I decided to pull out my bell pepper plants. I had gotten a late start on my spring gardening, so I bought four Bonnie bell peppers at Home Depot and planted them in May. They produced fewer than 20 peppers total--not nearly as prolific as other years with my seed-grown peppers.

Not surprisingly, when I pulled them, their roots were totally encrusted with root-knot nematode damage.  What was surprising to me is that their roots never expanded past their original peat pot volume even though I'd peeled the pots away.

I posted a photo of these peppers in my post, "Okra Swales," where I talked about how I'd also planted these peppers around a swale with some kitchen waste buried in the middle of the swale. Looking at these roots, the peppers never found that stash of extra nutrients waiting for them. By the way, the okra, which I'd planted by seed, is now approaching seven feet tall and producing like crazy!

The roots never expanded beyond the size of their peat pots.

The roots were totally encrusted with nematode damage.

The back of the house beds.
Most of the bed next to the house where the peppers were growing has been fallow over both the winter and summer months. I added a couple of wheelbarrow loads of compost and worked it in. I also buried a bucket of kitchen scraps between the rows that are now planted with broccoli and the "Lollo Rosso" lettuce. The broccoli roots will probably find this trench compost, but the shallow-rooted lettuce probably will not.

I'll plant garlic in the last row of this garden to scare away the nematodes. It works for vampires, right? Why not for these tiny little worms?

I hope you've begun your cool-weather vegetables.
If not, it's not too late to get started. Just do it!

For more details on my planting methods, see "Wide-row planting and trench composting in the vegetable garden."
For more details on my rain barrels, see "Three More Rain Barrels."

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

P.S.: News about my new book, "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida":
I'd asked my editor when we'd see the cover design and the designer replied with this:
"I am finishing up the typesetting and about to work on the cover. The book is excellent! I'm learning a lot and spending too much time reading it.
The color section was crowded in 32 pages, Lynn saw we could add more pages and keep it in budget, so it is now 48 pages.
I have to say that this is really nice to hear. It's due to be released in Feb. 2013. I can hardly wait!


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