Breaking summer ground for fall.

I grew beans in this bed in March and April.  I gave some new squash varieties a go as well as took my first real stab at some melon. It was all done by June.

Had I planned better,  I would have had some more pepper starts ready to go in. Next year, I hope to remember this. As it stood, I had some late-arriving sweet potato starts come in the mail and they took center stage.

Slowly the summer raged on. The sweet potatoes showed themselves to be slow growers. One melon, the Tigger variety, held on much longer than the Kansas or the White Cushaw.

Every where else in the Left Bed the weeds set up shop. The squishy ones that DH calls “ice plant weeds” and the sprawly ones that remind me of some sea fans. We wonspeak of the wild  morning glories or the other ivy. Then there are the two tall types I couldn’t guess at varieties for.

Thankfully, having ignored the bed for the last bit of our triple digits, the weeds pulled easily,  like they were rooted in sand.

The lowlands between the raised beds have served as walkways this season and as such needed a little loosening.

I’d added in a couple of inches of leaves this spring to the pathways. Over the course of months of rain and breezy days the leaves went underground. Digging yesterday unearthed them once more. Evidence of a summer spent under damp soil was all around. The leaves had made a layer of decomposed soil-food. Digging through it brought cakes of matted leaf material to the surface only to join forces with new compost and be turned under once again.

I’m still in the “getting to know you” phase with the soil in this bed. Upon first meeting, it came across as angry and weak . Someone had abused it previously and it showed. I started the spring by adding organic soil from a local source, manure, and compost. I was in a hurry and didn’t have the time to wait for the county extension office to run any tests. Over the summer I’ve learned that the soil is much sandier than my beds the short two miles to my backyard. It’s also full of tiny pebbles. Just below the sandy, pebbly, crumbly soil is what I’m used to working with – thick, cloying, stick-to-your-shovel clay.

So I worked in even more compost, breaking up clods of dirt (playing at being rocks) along the way.

Watering the base layers,  burying them, and watering again is my attempt to not irritate the earthworms too much.

I worked the compost into these holes made by burying the compost in the trenches. Then I worked it all together, evening it out into one bed. Trench be-gone!

These beds (this one and it’s twin across the sweet potatoes) are now ready for kale, broccoli, beets, onions, and garlic!

Those sad sweet potatoes? Those are the ones I ordered as starts. The pantry-potatoes? They’re happy as can be.

How do you prep your soil between seasons?


9 comments on “Breaking summer ground for fall.

  1. Shannon says:

    Raked leaves, shrub clippings, bagged grass clippings, compost, a wheel barrow, a pitch fork, and good old-fashioned calories from my butt fat. 🙂

    I got dirty too today. Real dirty. For many hours straight. In cool weather!! My favorite.

    • plumdirt says:

      Isn’t it great?! This weather is like Oregon summers, and it makes me want to soak up every drop. (And enjoy the multiple-hours-of-manual-labor-without-being-driven-inside-by-the-heat!)

  2. I’m trying the newspaper and straw thing over the winter this year, after a top dressing of composted horse manure from my neighbor. I’m hoping it makes spring planting easier…

  3. They say look after your soil and it will look after the plants!
    I mulch and I mulch, add leaves and straw and paper and grass clipping and manure oh and cardboard. Anything I can add to the soil I do ! I also sometimes create a trench and add all the kitchen waste – nothing cooked, just peelings and coffee grounds and then add shredded paper and cover with soil again – the beans and squash seem to like it rich 🙂

    • plumdirt says:

      I’ve always worried about adding paper due to the possibility of chemicals in it. Do you use plain white printer paper? Or newspaper? Or anything other than those glossy print ads is fine?

      • I use white paper, bank statements and newspaper print – it depends what research article you read whether the print is ok and who is using what. I don’t use glossy, but that’s about it. When I think about what’s floating around in the atmosphere (think carbons and petrol emissions) I add it all up and go with what I feel is right for me. I also use cardboard too……

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