Oct 27 2010

Late Garden News

Our garden kind of took a backseat to other things this summer, so I haven’t done an update in a while.  We’ll surely get a frost soon, so I thought I’d better get some pictures taken before everything dies.

As you’ll see in the pictures, the high winds lately have been pretty hard on our fences.  That’s been a problem with the bean fence in several storms this year, and I had to strap a 1″x2″ board to one end to keep it standing.  I used 1/2″ diameter conduit like it recommends in Square Foot Gardening, but my fence is eight feet long instead of four feet like in the book, so it catches more wind, especially when the wind comes out of the north and funnels between the houses and garage.  Next year I’ll have to use 5/8″ or even 3/4″ conduit; or if that’s too expensive, go with a wooden frame of 2×4′s instead.  For the rest of this year, I’m just trying to keep them more or less upright until frost.

East Garden Bed

East Garden Bed

This is the bed that was mostly green beans.  The bush beans are dead, and just have a few pods on them that I’m leaving for dry beans.  The pole beans are still alive and producing pretty well, so we’re eating some of those fresh and leaving others to dry out for storage.  That’s a great thing about beans: just leave them in the garden, and as long as it doesn’t get too wet and cold too soon, they’ll dry in the pod and you can just shell them and store them.

On the left is a tangle of pepper plants, tomatoes that vined over from the trellis, and a cauliflower.  The moss rose flowers are still hanging on on the corner, but the nearest pepper is smothering them.  The other stuff in the middle — the Geisha Girl flowers and the squash — has been done for for a while.  I think I saw one Geisha Girl bloom once, and that was it.  They really got smothered by everything else, but they were free seed, so oh well.

Yellow Scalloped Summer Squash

Yellow Scalloped Summer Squash

The squash got squash bugs pretty bad a few weeks ago, so they’re basically dead now, but they did manage to produce a few squash.  I think the way I kept cutting them back to keep them in their area kept them from producing as soon as they should have.  These last few will need to be brought in before it frosts.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

This cauliflower was constantly shadowed and squeezed by everything around it.  You can see it’s surrounded by tomatoes now, but the peppers and squash were also leaning on it for most of the year, so it never did anything.  I guess once the squash died, it finally got enough sun to start making a head.  It can withstand a frost, so we might still get a decent head out of it.

Paprika Peppers

Paprika Peppers

This is the paprika pepper plant that’s smothering the moss rose on the corner.  You can see some ripe red peppers that need to be picked and dried.  They still have a bunch of blooms, but the first mild frost will kill these.  I already have some peppers drying, so I’ll write up a post on the whole process whenever we turn them into paprika.

West Garden Bed

West Garden Bed

Now we’re over to the west garden bed, where there’s more stuff still alive, but it’s all pretty woolly.  In front are the herbs, (from left to right) oregano, basil, and sage.  The basil is the bright green stuff, and it’s leaning on the oregano pretty hard.  There was thyme to the right of the sage, but it was so shaded it didn’t do much.  I need to see if it’s still alive, and if so, transplant it to the front row somewhere.

On the trellis are tomatoes and morning glories.  We actually tried to kill the morning glories at one point, because they weren’t blooming, and they were starting to smother the tomatoes.  Tomatoes need a lot of sun, and the morning glories weren’t leaving them much.  Strangely, a few days after we cut the morning glories off at the ground, they produced a whole bunch of blooms.  I guess that’s what flower growers mean when they talk about ‘forcing’ blooms. Anyway, I missed one side shoot when I was cutting them, so part of one morning glory survived, and it kept the right end of the trellis pretty full.

The tomatoes we got were big, but we didn’t get a lot of them.  I don’t know how much of that was because of the pruning, and how much was the shading from the morning glories.  I think next time the tomatoes will have the trellis to themselves, and I may prune them to 2-3 branches each instead of a single one.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

There’s an up-close shot of a couple morning glory blooms.  We’ll probably plant those along the fence next year instead of in the garden beds.  The fence isn’t really tall enough, but we can just plant a few and vine them horizontally up and down the fence.

West End of West Bed

West End of West Bed

This is the other end of the west bed, and the woolliest part.  The Swiss chard still looks great, as always.  Sometimes it gets a little rough during the hot weather, but it always bounces back and produces again when it cools off.  I hope to be picking it for at least another month.  The big white bloom in front is actually a carrot.  I completely forgot about the carrots and beets when things got hot and busy this summer, so the carrots are going to seed, and I don’t suppose the beets are any good anymore.  Have to pull them and see.  The orange things on the right are marigolds, which produced quite a few blooms but fell over after a while.  They got way taller than expected, and just couldn’t hold themselves up.

That’s it for now.  I’m planning another post to wrap up the season, to sort of summarize what worked and what didn’t, especially with the square-foot gardening concept, and what to do differently next year.  I’ll also be doing another one like this for our community garden spot, and some posts on preserving the harvest.

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2 Comments

  • Jason says:

    The pictures remind me of my first few gardens. When I’d plant, I’d always put things far closer together than the directions said. It just seemed like there was so much space between. Then after a few months when I couldn’t walk between the bean rows or tomato plants, I’d wonder why I didn’t pay attention.

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    • Aaron says:

      Yeah, that’s one of the things I’ll be writing about in my ‘lessons from this year’ post. The square foot method helped with spacing, but things still got too crowded. That may be from excess nitrogen making the plants put on more foliage than normal, which could be corrected. But I also think the square-foot recommendations might need to be a starting point, and modified based on some common sense. For instance, it said a bush squash plant should take two square feet. Well, obviously, things tend to grow equally in all directions, so how do you make it grow two feet wide north and south and only one foot east and west? A healthy cabbage is really too big for a square foot, but giving it a 2×2 square would be a waste.

      Also, when things are this close together, height starts to become a real issue. Things need to be lined up with the tallest plants on the north so everything can get some sun. That can be tricky, because some things will be taller for a while because they were planted earlier, then shorter than other things later.

      Anyway, more on that in a future post.

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