Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Garden 2010

Saturday, October 2nd the kids and I cleaned out what was left from our spring veggie garden. Honestly, there were not many plants left. There were about a half dozen very scraggly tomato plants, they had started to bloom again, but I've learned from experience, fall tomatoes from spring plants are a disappointment. Oddly, the broccoli from spring was still growing strong (even though it was supposed to have been killed off in the heat) and even had a few small old heads of broccoli on them. I found two pepper plants in the back, and those were spared. One neat surprise was a mullein plant growing in a back corner of my garden. Mullein is a medicinal plant with huge fuzzy leaves. It grows wild here in Texas and my mom always has plants pop up in her yard, but I've never seen it growing in town and especially never in my garden. My artichoke plant, which produced for the first time this summer had died off, but four new baby plants have sprung up from the roots of the original plant.

The tiny 4" mint plant I got in 2009 is now a waist high shrub that covers an area 5 feet by 5 feet. Part of it has started to take over a section of my veggie garden (mint does not respect wire garden fences--HA!). I shoveled it out by the roots and was able to pass on a 5 gallon bucket of rooted mint plants to a gardening friend of mine. I warned her it needed a place to S P R E A D out.

During the clean up, we found 3 snakes (which boy called rattle snakes, but they are just harmless brown garden snakes), bunches of geckos (which boy can now correctly identify), and two spiny fence lizards. It was a cool morning so all the poor reptiles were moving slowly, I had to teach boy over and over how to gently hold the geckos (one ended up dropping his tail from the initial rough grab). He kept pinching them with his thumb and forefinger and the poor geckos eyes would nearly bulge out of their heads. Once boy learned the art of just cupping them in his hand, he was so happy to see that they stayed whit him calmly, the cold lizards enjoyed the warmth. I was less picky about his treatment of the snakes. I learned last year that the primary food of the little brown snakes is earth worms, so they are less welcome in the garden. I let the boy play with them, and we even threw a few to the chickens who ran and fought over who got to eat the little snake. The white chicken is quite the hunter and was the best at grabbing the snakes before they disappeared into the leaves.

We weeded, we raked, then I hand dug 2/3 of the garden with a pitch fork. Partially so boy could find worms and partially because most of this garden is still fairly new soil and there is lots of heavy clay areas. My little tiller can't break up the clay and hand turning just seemed like the best thing to do. Once the clods of soil were turned up, my little tiller made quick work of it.

Sunday after church boy and I got out my bag of cool season seeds and we planted pretty much every seed I had. I tried yet another new layout (this is 3 layouts in 2 years of my new garden) and we'll see how it goes this fall/winter. The rows now run east to west and I did not put in any formal paths, just the typical 18 inch spacing between the planted seed rows.

North to south rows

Along the north garden fence: Oregon Snow Peas
Purple Top Turnips
spinach (mixed old seeds with this years Laewa and Bordeaux Spinach seeds)
brussel sprouts
carrots (Danvers, half long, Taigo? short carrots)
Thomas Laxton pod Peas (along a temporary border fence).

I sprinkled mixed lettuce seeds at the start of each row of other veggies.

The far south section of the garden (the shady section) was left fallow with the Jerusalem Artichokes, which are still blooming) and some purple basil plants which are about to go to seed.

After the seeds were planted, boy helped me to wrestle the soaker hoses to lay along each planted row. He was such a big help holding the ends of the unwieldy hoses, it would have been very difficult without him. We gave the garden a good drink and now we wait and let this beautiful Texas fall weather sprout the little seeds. All week we have sun forcast with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the 60s, perfect!

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