Sunday, September 7, 2014

Out with the Old

Today I took advantage of the cool, overcast weather and pulled out the dying summer vegetables to make room for new fall projects.  I'd picked all the pumpkins on Friday, and there were only a few remaining green tomatoes left that I'll throw in a brown paper bag to ripen.  For this bed, I plan on experimenting with a few different new plants over the fall and winter.  I placed an order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, starting with Broad Windsor fava beans, which will serve as a winter ground cover adding nitrogen back into the soil.

I also needed some new lettuce seeds, so I picked the Tom Thumb variety.
Tom Thumb Lettuce

They're nice and compact so I can grow them in our raised beds' cinder block holes, saving space for other plants in the main beds.  Another new addition is red orach, a beautiful, cold-hardy plant that you can add to salads.  I basically just got this one because it's pretty.

Red Orach

Ok, now onto the really grand experiment for the cold season.  Using PVC pipes and row covers, we plan on turning part of the raised bed into a mini greenhouse.  I'm going to try a few flowers and herbs including borage and nasturtiums:


Jewel Peach Melba - Nasturtium

I can't wait for my seeds to arrive to get started--who says you have to wait until spring to have fun in the garden?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Summer Swan Song

I've gone in the garden nearly every day this summer, rotating pumpkins, tying up tomato plants and collecting all of our abundant produce.  But last weekend was the first time in too long that I actually (and literally) dug in with my hands to give our beds some much needed TLC.  Summer pregnancies, to quote a friend, are no joke, and while Patrick and I managed to get a good crop going before I was too far along, by the end of May, even the slightest planting or weeding would make my back hurt for days.  So after getting daily lectures and threats from both my mom and Patrick (my  mom being the scary one, Patrick being the one threatening to call her if  I did too much), I quit being a driving force in the garden.  Plenty of beautiful plants grew, but so did a lot of weeds, beetles and some unfortunate powdery mildew (but we still have pumpkins!).

This vine actually grew up our side deck railing.

On Saturday, inhaling some of the last deep breaths of summer, we all (now four of us), trekked out to the garden with an agenda.  The pumpkin and cucumber vines have worked there way across the open spaces between the garden beds and the side deck, making it near impossible to walk through without stepping on a plant.  This wasn't too troublesome until I started to plant a fall bed next door, so it was time to take action.  I used a spare trellis to spiral the excess vines upward.  While some were already too big to move, I did make enough foot space to more easily plant the first round of our fall crops.

I actually really love the effect and think it will be even better next year when I can guide them up from seedlings.  After a pretty rotten garden season last year (the spot we originally chose didn't get enough sun), it's so exciting to see the success we've had this year with the raised beds that Patrick built.  We have tons of ideas to expand and build upon what we've done so far, from fruit to winter greens,and hopefully some new animals!