Monday, November 1, 2010

The Garden Is Dead

Long Live the Garden! (Our Fall garden is pictured above)
Our first frost happened on October 16, and didn't mess around. The low was 28° F, effectively ending our main season. Basil was the only hot-loving crop we still had in the ground, and had long passed its productive leaf stage. And that was good, because it is not made for 28°. We did manage to get some seed from it, and will test its viability after we clean it.
The only crop we have to harvest yet is our remaining ~140 sq ft of potatoes. Our lack of rain keeps us from that harvest. We know they grew fairly successfully, but the nature of our soil means they are locked in the ground until we get a couple of good rains in a row. The last time that happened was the 9th and 10th of July.
Potatoes excluded, we have now entered the stage of the garden that a lot of folks around here skip: the late-Fall and Winter plan. Our original idea was to plant the currently double-dug beds into cover crops, and prepare previously un-dug beds for our wheat, rye, and garlic plantings. Again, we needed some more rain to pull that one off, so we now have planted 600+ square feet of a wheat/rye/canadian field pea mix (on the left), 200 sq ft of cereal rye, 150 sq ft of winter wheat, and about 40 sq ft of garlic. And that's where we'll likely finish for this year.
Compromise number one was planting our wheat, rye and garlic in previously dug beds. Compromise number two was the nature of that planting. Garlic is garlic, and that simply involves separating cloves, and planting the choicest (the first sprout is pictured on the right). But the wheat and rye, which we want to bring to full maturity next summer, would normally have been transplanted on 5" centers. A combination of travel and lack of rain made that difficult, so we decided to just bite the bullet and broadcast. The only thing desirable in that choice, though, is the ease of planting. Weeding will be much more difficult, coverage will not be as thorough, and yields will suffer. Our final compromise was not so much a decision we made as a matter of indecision. Because we were so far behind, we gnashed our teeth about planting and digging options, and whether or not it would rain for us. As a result everything has been planted a month or more late.
But farming is about learning from mistakes, right? And by all accounts it has been a doozy of a season for all the farmers and gardeners around.
Since the 16th of October we have had frosts of 28, 32, 27, 24, and 23°, and when I left from watering the garden at 7:00 last night the temperature had already fallen to 39°F. I think it's time to hibernate.

This week brings a trip to California to teach at Ecology Action's 3-Day Workshop on the 5th, 6th, and 7th. It is always inspiring to get to meet so many motivated gardeners, share knowledge with them, and learn what they have to offer. Plus maybe I can bring some of the copious amounts of rain they're getting back home with me...


1 comment:

  1. Hi Dan - hope the Ecology Action workshop was as exciting as last year! I wanted to ask if you could send me an email address for Margo, or have her contact me directly at angeline at angeline-leleux dot com. I'm starting a Large Intimidating Blog project which is going to focus on women in farming and I'd like to interview her for it :)