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?

Tarzan

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My guess is that if Tarzan lived here, he’d swing from morning glory vines. I cannot tell you how satisfying it was to finally find the base of this invasion and tear it out. I have been back in No Time To Garden Land, but a cold front blew in last night just in time for a free Saturday. (Cold fronts in Texas this time of year means a high of only 92° AND a low of 60° AND a near constant breeze. Which translates to the first time we’ve been able to open the windows in the house since April.. .for an hour.) Posts of the progress soon!

Nervous…

I sowed squash indoors weeks ago. They bloomed the other day. The Books say it’s ok to plant squash now. The Books are often wrong.

The Books reference zones based on frost dates. Based on frost dates, I should be able to grow anything grown along the valley of the West Coast of the United States. This is not actual truth.

What The Books fail to account for in their Zone System is temperature, and daylight, and precipitation. I can grow many things all winter that would not survive in other areas of the same zone. Why?

Well, for starters, it’s still hitting 100 degrees fahrenheit regularly here in my version of Zone 8a/b. In other areas of Zone 8a/b there are highs in the 70s. They are also dropping into the 49ers at night. Me? Maybe as low as 75 if I’m lucky. My tomatoes are barely alive (mostly due to my frugal watering) while theirs are done (due to their chilly nights.)

Next we have the concept of chill hours. Peaches grow beautifully and plentifully 90 minutes west of here, having just enough chill to fruit. Citrus grow outdoors three hours southeast of here, with the lightest of frosts being the rarest of things. Neither would be happy here.

As for daylight, the fluctuation is just as wide. Summer in Seattle as a child taught me how greatly the curve of the globe changes the daylight in rotation to the sun. The sun sets in June at nearly 11pm. We top out at just after 9pm. Winters in Olympia were miserable for me with the sun setting at 4:30pm. We don’t really set before 6pm.

Never mind the other oh-so-important water. Days with rain here? Maybe a third of the number of days up there. There are irrigation options, but that costs money and doesn’t change the surrounding soil so much.

And not that the Zones claim to say anything about soil, but clay is not clay is not clay. I’ll save that for another day.

So today, I put eight seedlings of squash out. I’m nervous. I held eight back. The Books also say I can sow beets and put out my cauliflower and broccoli starts. I won’t be listening to them on those counts just yet.

And just for fun, some pretty clouds.

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