Friday, September 3, 2010

End of summer garden

Or for us, weatherwise, it's the beginning of hotter weather. Even though this has been a ridiculously cool summer, the hours were long. It always seems to confuse the plants a little when it's hot but daylight hours are waning. Or maybe it's just me who's confused.

I always think these pictures seem utterly chaotic, but they are clickable to enlarge. In the first one, the more western side of the yard, you can't see the dying Elephant Heart plum tree, but you can see the grape vine (time to harvest!), and the mostly-dug potato bed, and the bursting-with-bells pepper bed, and the foolishly large sunflowers. What you can't see is the kale behind the sunflowers, and the used to be carrot bed. One day when I let the chickens out and forgot about them was enough to undo the painstaking sprouting I'd managed for them. So I'm torn. It's too hot really to try to get them to sprout now. Do I leave it or work to find another substitute? I'm dealing with this all over now.

This one has, believe it or not, even taller sunflowers. They're epically silly, and the only one the squirrels have found is an ornamental one. I'm willing to give up one or two! In this bed, from the back, pole beans and bush beans just coming along now, with a bed of Yukon Gold potatoes from the store behind them, an emptyish bed with clover and younger sunflowers in it, the paste tomatoes, the Early Girls and basil, and the dying summer squash/winter squash in back -- the butternuts look great, but not as productive as I would have wished! -- and there's a bed of teensy direct-seeded lettuce behind the sunflowers, along the fence. I'm giving it lots of TLC with bathtub water and hope they'll make salads soon. Visually behind the tomatoes and to the left of the sunflowers is a new seeding of onions. I checked Golden Gate Gardening and she said August would be okay, so we'll see. I'm not sure they're going to sprout, though.

I think the volunteer is a triamble squash, or maybe a Marina di Chioggia. Something big. I'll let it go because it's a lot of food if they set fruit.

I've never gone without food, and the garden really fills in most of our produce needs, but I have now encountered two people with not enough food to feed their children in my town. Both, unsurprisingly, were/are women going through divorce. I don't know the details of their financial situations, but I'm really glad I have extra food outside and put up to share. So that's why I'm letting any winter squash go right ahead and make more food.

I feel productive, too. But not as productive as these girls. They're loving the sunflowers from early morning to late evening. I'll have to squeeze in another honey harvest within the next two weeks.

But I do have troubling open spots in the garden. Too hot to start seeds, possibly too hot even for buckwheat or other cover crops. I'm torn between trying to get seeds started, even though it's almost a fool's errand to try to keep them wet enough, or just forking some compost over the tops and throwing some sort of mulch on there. I have some finished compost and more bunny poop. What do you think? I don't like bare ground; I have some time I'm not going to be gardening, but when I get back to it in mid-October, I don't want it to be all death out there. Any ideas for odd-season bare ground?


Rachel said...

Do you have a shady spot? That's where I've started my seeds and they are doing fantastic even in this late, hot weather.

I found last year that my fall crop seeds germinated and transplanted better while it was still warm. Sounds weird, I know.

kitsapFG said...

Have you germinated carrots using the board cover method? Often when the summer weather is too hot and drying for starting carrots, you can plant a bed up with seed, soak it very well, and then lay wood boards over the bed and make sure the boards are wetted down too. The shady wet area under the boards helps to keep the seeds moist and cool enough to germinate. You have to check the bed daily and remove the boards once the seeds have sprouted well along with giving it a spray of water periodically, but that is all there really is to it.

Mr. H. said...

Those darn chickens. The one thing that I always fill my bare spots in with regardless of the time of year is mustard, turnips for greens and/or roots, and salad burnet...of course I live in Idaho and it's a little cooler here.

Ribbit said...

I'm the same. I want to plant some lettuce, but keep putting it off and I'm afraid I'll put it off too long eventually.

This weekend. Something's gonna happen this weekend.....maybe.

meemsnyc said...

I am so impressed with your garden. That's so wonderful that you have extra produce to share with those in need. Really admirable!

chaiselongue said...

Can you buy some plants to put in? We're just planting out cabbage, leeks and cauliflowers plants which we bought because we hadn't had time to sow them earlier in the summer. Or just leave it bare... isn't that supposed to be good for the ground. Then sow broad beans (favas) and peas when you come back in October. It all looks great, anyway!

Erin said...

I'm struggling with some of the same issues. That lovely mess that is end-of-summer! I hate bare spots but yet it's still a little hot to put things in! I have all but given up on my carrots

Jan said...

Carrots take soooooo long to germinate it must have been really annoying to have the chickens eat the sproutings. If it was me, I'd put some compost over ready for when it's a little cooler.

Stefaneener said...

Rachel, the lettuce is in shade, and in well-amended soil. I know they'd do well, but keeping them moist in my sandy soil may require kitsapFGs method.

kitsapFG, I may have to do that. I had used two layers of Reemay, and it worked well, but then the birds. . . If they're goiing to grow during the summer, they have to cluster on the soak hoses. If I wait, I can broadcast assuming we'll get rain.

Mr. H., I bet kale would work, then I could clean-harvest if I wanted the ground. It's just a bit hard on the soil.

Ribbit, I hope you caught up!

meemsnyc, it's just ridiculous that people don't have enough to eat.

chaiselongue, I wonder if I could sow stuff and just leave it. There usually aren't the starts you need at the right time here -- people are tied to a four-season growing idea even though it doesn't fit our real climate.

Erin, it's all part of trying to figure it out.

Jan, I think I'm leaning toward clover and favas.

Kristin said...

I've been letting my plants go to seed and then once the random sprouts are big enough, transplanting them back into proper rows. This won't work for your blank area; but maybe next time you won't clear it out so fast. You're too tidy.

How about garlic--enough to braid a rope later, or fennel? or a dedicated spot for asparagus or rhubarb?

Jackie said...

I'm trying radishes to fill in a few (small) bare spots. It's a weird time of year for planting.

Regarding the 2 women who don't have enough food to feed their families, I'm working on getting a "Giving Garden" started at a local church to address just that in the Monterey area. I'll be posting about this project when we (hopefully) get the "go ahead" on Sunday.

Nice of you to share with those less fortunate.