Monday, September 29, 2008

The garden is winding down

It has been a month since I lasted posted here at Dirt in my Fingernails. School has started and I have been substitute teaching a lot. Plus I have been hired to start teaching a third grade class full-time starting in November so I have been gathering materials and making plans. I have been neglecting my garden, I'm afraid.

As you can see from the picture above, the garden is no longer full of lush green life like it was in July. It's to be expected I suppose. Several of the crops have been removed and others are in their last days and weeks.

As you can see here, my tomato plants are still full of tomatoes that I have not been able to keep up with. Many of them have problems with cracking and usually go straight to the compost bin. Also, my big Beef Heart plants became so top-heavy with huge tomatoes that they fell over, taking the flimsy trellis with them. Several large tomatoes rest on the ground outside the garden where they are being feasted on by the army of slugs that have appeared. I should probably do something about it, but with everything else going on, I have kind of lost the will to fight. The tomatoes I do pick usually sit in a bowl on my kitchen counter for a few days until they begin to spoil and I take them out to the compost. I just can't keep up with them and I don't have time to process them. Next year I'll plan better. You can also see the bell pepper plants to the right. I've found that if I catch the pepper when it is just right, I can take it inside and use it immediately or cut it up immediately to freeze. If I wait too long, it'll rot on the vine or on my counter waiting to be used. I've lost several of those already. And the patch of weeds in the middle of this photo is where my pumpkins used to be. I need to clear this area out so that those nasty squash bugs don't have a comfy home to overwinter in.

As you can see above, my sweet potatoes are flourishing. They've spread out to cover a huge area and I can't wait to dig them up and see what we have. Jeff is getting antsy and wanting me to dig them up, but from what I understand, I need to wait until the foliage on top begins to die away before I dig.

I have planted several items for my fall crops and they seem to be doing well so far. Here are the mustard greens and collard greens I planted in August. The collards appear to be getting eaten by the cabbage worms I've discovered. I tried Neem Soap spray. We'll see how it works.

Here are my cabbages that are also being eaten by cabbage worms.

And here are the lettuces and spinach I planted in early August. For some reason, many of the seeds I planted didn't come up. This is all I have from that particular planting. There is Black Seeded Simpson on the bottom, Red Sails in the middle and Spinach on top. I also made a second later planting of spinach over on the right where you see the little tiny green sprouts. And yes, the weeds are encroaching on the left...I need to get to that.

And finally, in mid-September I went out and planted the rest of my lettuce and spinach seeds in several vacated spots in the garden. Here is a close-up shot of spinach (bottom) and Red Sails lettuce (top) seedlings in the bed where the melons used to live. They are only two weeks old but are off to a great start!

Today's local weather:
High temp: 76 F
Low temp: 54 F
Sunny in the morning, thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.