August 17, 2007

Random thoughts while I'm taking a break from planting and weeding...

• This has been a great summer... at least from the perspective of a winter gardener. I don't know that I've ever had an easier time getting my winter roots bed going. I sowed my beets, carrots and parsnips around July 12 (a bit later than optimal for the parsnips), after a good spell of dry weather that made prepping that bed easy. Then, for the week or so immediately afterward, the weather turned cool, cloudy, and occasionally rainy. I hardly had to water! The germination rate, especially on the parsnips, was impressive.

• By the way - if you haven't planted any winter lettuce or spinach yet - if the sun's still up, stop reading now and get busy! You can still sow a lot of leafy greens in August - see my vegetable garden timetable and my winter vegetable gardening overview.

• While it has been a great "winter garden" summer, it's been less than wonderful for the warm season crops. I was a bit late putting up my hoophouse, so our somewhat frequent spells of drizzle has brought late blight back into my garden. Fortunately you can keep this fungus somewhat in check even after infection, as long as you are vigilant about keeping your plants dry; but the afflicted plants are still less productive, and may succumb to the disease if you let your guard back down for even a couple damp days.

• Along that same line - this wasn't a good year to be tardy starting my melons. I was only a week or two late, having sown the seeds in pots on May 24th; but our cooler than average summer weather hasn't helped matters. Recently I ripped out one bed of melons that obviously wasn't going to produce mature fruit; converting it for use as my winter leeks bed. Fortunately the remaining melon bed looks like it'll produce ripe melons within a couple weeks. Passport is again asserting its value as the most reliable melon in my garden, year after year.

• I must say for once I managed to time my vacation well! My primary motivation was to avoid at least part of the I-5 construction mess, but it's also a busy period in terms of getting my winter garden together. The weather's been great - not too warm and not too wet. My leeks are transplanted; a fall bed of lettuce and spinach is finished; the hoophouse beds of lettuce, spinach, mustards, and other greens are starting to germinate and grow; and I even got my overwintered cauliflower sown somewhat on time. All that's left for sowing is a mixed hoophouse bed of snap peas (an experiment), overwintered onions, maché, Claytonia, and perhaps a couple other quick-growing oriental brassicas.

• Unlike last year, I haven't had to deal with rabbits or other sharecroppers. Unfortunately, though, a family of moles has taken up residence in my garden and yard this year. I've trapped one, but there's at least one more tunneling through a few of my garden beds - fortunately none of the affected beds contain root crops. While moles do not eat plants, their tunnels are sometimes used by mice and voles. I've lost entire beds of winter roots in a couple of past gardens, thanks to these pests!

• Get out and enjoy the weather! While many of my summer garden plants would prefer warmer weather, I find this just about perfect for summer activities. Work in the garden, go hiking, bike or roller-blade with your kids, or just lay down on the grass and stare at the clouds! The rain will be back soon enough.


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This page was last updated November 18, 2013