Wednesday, September 3, 2008

fall garden

I planted this area in the front of the house about 3-4 weeks ago, in early August.  Here is the view of the entire plot.  It was an experiment in two things initially, and has turned into a fertile learning opportunity with many more lessons.  The initial objectives were to learn about late-season planting and drip irrigation systems.

Arugula has been the superstar so far, which is no surprise given its very short time required for maturity - about 35 days.  And it likes cool weather, which we are definitely starting to have.  I intended to plant in succession to have a steady crop, but never did, so I have a quarter of a row instead of a half.  I have tasted a few leaves already and it is spicy and delicious.

Next up are broccoli and peas.  Broccoli is a cool-weather relative of cabbage, and takes 80-100 days to sprout.  Which means these would be ready about the end of October.  So far so good.  I had good germination and will have many seedlings to choose from when I thin these out.  Peas are also cool-weather plants, one of the first seeds to go in the ground in the spring.  But planting during late summer?  Totally depends on the weather.  The plants survive frost just fine, but the flowers, which precede the actual peas, so not.  So it's a race.  Needs 65 days for maturity, or mid-October.  Yikes - that might be cutting it too close.  Hopefully we'll get lucky.  Also had good success with seed germination. (peas on right, broccoli on left)

Lettuce.  I thought lettuce would be a sure thing.  Another early spring plant, I assumed it would take well to fall weather.  But it hasn't.  All three of these rows should have lettuce plants all along the top half of the rows.  As you can see, that hasn't exactly panned out.  I have two guesses as to why, and I think the first one is the best guess.  Lettuce seeds won't germinate if the soil temperature is too high.  I thought that with the drip irrigation, set for every 5 hours or so, would keep the soil cool enough.  Maybe it didn't.  Second guess, I may have just killed a lot of the seedlings during the initial weeding.  There were a lot of weeds. and I may have been a bit too rough and tried to get too close.  Solution: start these indoors next time.  Both during spring and late summer plantings.  I predict the headstart will do wonders.  

Carrots and onions.  Both germinated well, so we'll just wait to see how they fare.  Both of these will remain in the ground for a while.  I'll use some of the onions as green onions, and the remainder I'll leave in the ground until next year, to see how well they do over the winter.  Much like garlic.  Carrots on left, onions on right.

More superstars of cool-weather: swiss chard (on left) and Russian kale (on right).  Great germination with many seedlings.  These should last well into the late fall, maybe into winter.  

Additional lessons:
  1. Don't bring rocks into the garden.  I did this to protect the sprinkler line between the third and fourth rows, because as I was cultivating the ground in preparation for planting, I busted one of those shallow sprinkler pipes (thanks to the previous owners for taking the shortcut on the sprinkler pipe depth).  It actually turned out for the better, because the knowledge I gained of sprinklers while the geyser was going in the front yard ultimately allowed me to tie the drip system into the sprinkler system.  I thought the rocks would make a nice path in between those rows and over the sprinkler line.  They don't.  They just get buried in the dirt and give the weeds a good hiding spot..  So now the rocks will be coming out, and staying out.
  2. I should have used raised beds.  Planting in rows makes it difficult to get in and out and work in the garden.  I've probably trampled quite a few seedlings that way.  Raised bed eliminates this problem, which is why they're being used in the backyard.
  3. Weeding.  My initial weeding process involved me on my hands and knees, digging with a hand tool trying to pull up every single Morning Glory root.  It took forever.  It was disheartening and led to me postponing the work.  It took about 3 hours to weed the first half.  Then I read in a book about the hoe.  And promptly borrowed one from my neighbor.  30 minutes later, the second half of the garden was weeded.  I know I didn't get the roots, but I'm not so much worried about it.  Now, 15 minutes once a week takes care of any new growth, and makes me a much happier gardener.  By the way, having rocks in the garden makes weeding with a hoe almost impossible.
  4. My iPhone takes pretty decent pictures.  Next time, when shooting into the sun, I'll need to use my hand to shade the lens so there is less glare (the last two pictures show why).

1 comment:

camie said...

can't wait for the produce!
love and miss you!