Back in the garden

Nancy is a car locker; I’m not. We have a 15 year old Toyota approaching 200K mileage. I honestly don’t care if someone steals it. So we’re in a restaurant and it starts raining cats and dogs, no umbrella, and Nancy has locked the car. Who should be the one who goes out and unlocks it? Seems pretty straight forward to me.

The peas, onions and radishes that we planted last weekend have popped out and seem to be doing just fine. This cooler weather and an occasional shower are getting the job done. The carrots have yet to pop but they normally take a couple of weeks so no concern yet. I’m going to push forward under the assumption that this cool weather is here to stay and plant beets. How’s that for a gutsy move. For whatever reasons, I have bent my pick on beets here. We got a few last year but certainly nothing compared to the number planted or the loving care and attention I gave them. I’ve also taken advantage of the fall weather to fill in open spaces among the cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce with spares. It’s very normal that I lose a few here and there after planting and I always start some backup seeds just to fill in as needed. Sometimes the sun proves too much but more often one of the critters – four legged or insecta – take their share. Actually that’s not so bad because the fill in spares mature a bit later so the overall crop is extended and more spread out for the table.

Got a tomato experiment going. My San Marzano’s just haven’t done as well as a fall crop as they did as a Spring crop. I’m fairly sure it has to do with the critters gnawing away, day after day. Next time I try this I’ll hold off a month more so that the crop comes ready in November instead of September. I did start several tomato plants, not San Marzano’s, 6 weeks later and those are just now coming to blossom and look just fine – even a few green tomatoes. Too soon to label them successful since the San Marzano’s also looked good at the point where they started producing blossoms. The experiment is that I took one plant that was in particularly bad shape and trimmed it substantially. Maybe trimmed is an understatement – butchered is closer to the actual condition of the plant. Not a leaf or a twig left on the bush – nothing but a thick stem and a few bare branches. Will it recover and generate all new, fresh foliage? If yes, will it produce tomatoes? My expectations are that it will produce new foliage but won’t have time to produce fruit before it gets too cold. But you never know, we could have an unusually warm winter and be feasting on bonus tomatoes in January.

I’m back to adding a little space to the garden. Generally what has limited expansion is the availability of compost as apposed to actual space. I’ve created an incredible amount of compost over the past 3-4 years but most of it has gone to increasing the depth of the plantable space rather than increasing the areal dimensions. I’ve used the width of the trenches between growing rows as a variable – making the trench narrower as I have enough compost to widen a planting row. Today I filled in another 20 SF and by the end of December will add about that much again. If you think about a garden of 1000SF, another 20 or 40 SF seems hardly worth concerning yourself about but if you consider that, on average, plants require about 1 SF – then the added space means 20-40 more cabbages, broccolis, or whatever. If you think about root crops – carrots, onions, beets, radishes – I plant these about 10-12 per SF so 20 SF produces more onions than you would use in a year. For me it’s not as much about the quantity that can be produced but the ability to experiment with techniques or varieties with no concern about the end result. It also lets me do a much better job of time spacing to keep a more continuous flow of goodies.

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