Summer Harvesting, Fall Planting in the Home Garden

Summer Harvesting, Fall Planting in the Home Garden

One downside of gardening in the Palouse Region is that there is not the longest gardening season, and the chill and snow of Fall can come on rapidly. This year, after a long, cool, wet Winter and Spring the summer weather arrived out of nowhere, bringing 90 degree temperatures when it had just been 60. This meant Spring planting was brutal, and I did not get any real germination from lettuce, spinach, or carrots. (Though my lettuce I bought as starts did very well.) Further, many brassicas bolted rapidly, leaving with no real crop of broccoli or cabbage.

Usually, due to my complicated rotation system I don’t have free space in any of my garden beds or time to grow any Fall crops because my gardens are on too tight of a schedule (a problem my hugel beds will ultimately solve.) However, this year with cleared out brassica space and the summer heat having broken seemingly for good (little weather about low 80s predicted) I decided I should make an effort, so today I planted lettuce, spinach, radishes, and carrots in a very little, very traditional plot of my garden. Something I’ve found is that small seeded plants really do struggle to grow just thrown on top of soil, and no amount of books on no-till gardening I read is going to change

fall garden bed
As you can see it isn’t much to look at

that. So this time, went against Ruth Stout‘s advice and got the hoe out in hopes of growing some proper Spring/Fall crops. The soil seems like it had a happy summer under it’s Ruth Stout blanket, but for now more traditional methods must prevail.

As August continues on I receive ever more of the limited bounty of what has been an underwhelming gardening year of weird weather, limited time, decreased passion, and missed opportunities. Most of all, I was gone for the exact wrong week in June, just when the plants needed high level of care, and watering grew to be necessary. However, all is not lost, indeed, far from it. Easy to grow anywhere and unbelievably tasty fresh from the ground, I always have potatoes to remind me why I do this, and these loved Ruth Stout and are real beauties.

"Purple Viking" potatoes
I believe these are called “Purple Vikings”, and this is just one smaller plant.

Also, to my surprise my cauliflower seems to have had a good summer, I’m reckoning it’s because it grows at a different pace than broccoli. In general one wants to break leaves and fold them over the flower so it prevents sunlight, which can make the plant bitter. (but that doesn’t make for much of a picture).

cauliflower
Normally one wants to bend or tie down cauliflower leaves to protect it from the sun.

I’m having seemingly decent results with my three sisters garden, outside of the poor beans. I never seem to plant anything in the right sequence, and stuff is always attacking my beans. This year, though this got in late, the corn seems vigorous, and the squash that are growing seem to be growing well (and quite close to ready) but the beans just did not grow in time to be up the corn and get any sun. And I generally don’t prune suckers (though i will in the future due to the tight nature of these beds) and didn’t get around to thinning my corn until it was too big! There is corn on them for sure, but I’m worried it won’t fill out or will languish from being overcrowded, though I did mulch this area with rich, almost finished compost, which has been a great help, especially with the summer heat and the clay problem with that bed (I suspect fill dirt makes up the mound it was on, it was good at first and something from hell came up when I double dug a few years back)

Still, to sight these are some beautiful vigorous plants, if not as far along as would be ideal.

corn corn

I’m going to mostly try to take it easy going into harvest. But for hauling goat muck to this year’s compost pile, watering, and harvesting there is little to be done now. Tomatoes are well, peppers are well. The eggplants are softening rapidly, and I need to remember to harvest them. Melons may not make it, but are tricky with the climate.

Overall, not the greatest garden year their ever was, which is disappointing as my beds reach maturity (the oldest is on its 4th season, unless my memory deceives me and it is 5th). However, it was a crazy long winter. I was crazy from it. A super wet Spring made planting a challenge for everyone, I had to be gone for a week in June, and on top of it all I just could not stay motivated or focused. And as always, there was ever more experimentation in every regard.

Early prolific straightneck squash
This is early prolific straightneck squash. My memory is for some reason it didn’t take last year, so I’ve not had it before.

For next year, as I move ever more in favor of mulch and real manure instead of covers in most situations, I may have slightly more difficult fall work than in some years past, but the gardens sure love going through the winter with a thick layer of goat muck, straw, and leaves.

One day, when I am farming a larger area, I will absolutely need to find a better green manure situation. However, this is not that day, and as a home gardener with unlimited goat muck access, green manures are just not that practical. (Though I like having crops to check on through the Fall so I have a reason to check the garden.)

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