I finally was able to work in the vegetable garden today; me and my helpers, that is.
I am by no means done, but I did some major cleaning out of old veggies. Out went the tomatoes that aren’t producing, dead squash vines, weeds, a volunteer avocado tree and the two enormous zucchini plants which, although having been cut in half, abused and ignored, have still been putting on a squash a week. I have one more zuke plant left, but these big guys had to go. The compost heap is… well… a big heap.
As I study Permaculture, I’m more aware of the millions of microbes in the soil and the fine network of fungus that enriches plant roots. The less I disturb my garden soil, the better. After pulling the weeds, I sprinkled on GardenAlive’s soil enhancer, which are more microbes, as well as their organic Roots Alive fertilizer. I used a trowel to lightly work it all just under the soil surface, then topped it with compost from my compost bin. Having soil that is healthy, rich smelling and alive is any gardener’s dream. All those microbes free up nutrients in the soil so that your plants can suck them up and use them, which makes your veggies not only healthy and more resistant to bugs and diseases, but produce … um…. produce that is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Its like the old gardener’s joke: A gardener asks a man what he puts on his strawberries, and the man answers, “Cream.” The gardener shakes his head in disbelief and says, “I always put manure on mine.”
Potatoes from spring, which I’d stored in a dark cabinet under the house, decided they didn’t want to wait any longer.
Fall is a good time to plant potatoes, as long as you keep their greenery protected from frost. Since potatoes can be grown from cuttings (as well as tubers and seeds), and to produce more potatoes you slowly mound up compost or straw around the stem as it grows, I tried something with these long white fingers. I lay each potato on the soil, with the long white stem laying flat, and covered them all up with light mushroom compost.
I’m betting that the stems will all take root and send up greenery along the nodes, using phototropism. That will multiply the number of potato plants by a lot. Then as the greenery grows, I’ll add more straw and compost around them. If all works out, sometime early next year I should be Potato Queen of Fallbrook! Of course, I had lots of help with the project.
A few months ago I planted pieces of yam that had started to grow in the house. The vines flourished outside of the bed. Now that I’ve cleared the massive zucchinis out of the way, I’ve pulled the vines back into the bed, layed them out so that they (mostly) touch the soil, and have dumped mushroom compost on parts of them. The object is to allow them to root along the vines and make more yams. I’ll let you know if this works or not.
I’m also planting carrots and parsnips. The ‘nips won’t be ready until next spring, having improved in flavor for any frost we may receive. I’m hoping there may be some small carrots ready for Christmas dinner, but I really should have put them in last month to be sure. In will go the brassicas: Brussels sprouts (did you ever wonder if it smells cabbagy in Brussels?), broccoli and cauliflower. These guys all like a good chill, as long as they are protected from frost. More cool-weather lettuces will go in, as well as lots of endive for my tortoise. Onion sets and seeds can go in, as well as radishes. The arugula has reseeded itself again and is coming up in all the pathways, with even an elegant specimen right next to the large pond by the rushes!
You remember the pond, which was put in to attract wildlife, right?
I still have tomatoes and eggplants producing. I tied up the lazy ferny stalks of my first-year asparagus to get them out of the way. The horseradish plant seems to be doing well; I have to consider what to serve it with at Christmas. My dad loved horseradish sauce, as do I, and I grow it as a memory of him and our Polish heritage on his side. I used to make him his favorite soup, borscht, but I would never taste it because I just don’t like beets.
Tomorrow, if I can move my joints after many days of weeding, I’ll clear out the remaining ’empty’ bed and cover the unused ones with compost and straw to sit until spring. I am so glad that I can garden almost year-round!