Dig deeper.

If at first you find only frustration and disappointment…
DSC_0004

Dig deeper.

DSC_0008

It’s not quite the fifty pounds from a few years back, but for the size of that planting and the size of this one I’d say it’s a tie. 28 pounds of sweet potatoes and I’m pretty sure I missed a few that dove down or escaped under the planks to the edging paths.

And while I felt a month late, apparently I’m 11 days earlier than 2012. Also, note to self: if you want to turn questionably nutritious soil into glorious earth sow sweet potatoes first. Now what to sow tomorrow to keep it lovely until spring?

Shadows cast.

The roses have buds. Branches glow, casting brisk lines. Cranes blot the sky as the earth sheds the day. The seasons have changed and the world feels crisp, crunchy.

DSC_0048

The sog battles the snap underfoot. Giving with one step, resisting the next, I feel the transition dance through my soul.

DSC_0049

DSC_0056

DSC_0051

My timing is off. The beat, I’ve lost. I am not the only one out of sequence.

DSC_0052

DSC_0053

DSC_0055

It’s time I pause to join once again in the rhythm of things.

DSC_0054

DSC_0044

Rain rain…

Here to stay…coming back another day…

With no rain to speak of for a few months it seemed, and then three weeks in a row of serious rain things are a bit…soggy. The mosquitoes aren’t the only happy life forms at the moment though.

The sweet potatoes have blossomed and blossomed again.
DSC_0037

And the bee butts are grateful.
DSC_0011

The fungal mat is showing its true colors…
DSC_0039

Including this interesting specimen who starts out in tiny pillars that open into perfect little raindrop goblets.
DSC_0038

As unhappy as my onions are (I’m pretty sure they’re goners) the lemon basil has a mind to go from occasional herb plant to full on ground cover. I may have to help that little broccoli out before its trying to push through a jungle.
DSC_0033

More rain expected for the next two days, and it started again yesterday. I do hope everyone stays safe this time.

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?

Sweet potatoes bought and grown.

In the foreground are the sweet potatoes, followed by the pepper patch, and finished up with the tomato jungle. Nevermind the leaning shovel and sunhat taking center stage.

Isn’t the foliage on the fish pepper lovely? I didn’t expect a varigated leaf from the description on the seed packet, but am absolutely adoring this plant (and it grows a lot of peppers!) DH says they taste like “a jalapeno bite without the jalapeno heat.”

The things I’ve read on sweet potatoes say how much they don’t need watering once established. They sure do seem to like the water we’ve had lately though. They’re trying to escape their bed, climb the corner post, and move into pepper territory.

Those are the sweet potatoes that sprouted in my pantry, that I cut into thirds, dusted with diatomaceous earth, and buried. I did buy some sweet potato sprouts this year as well. Let’s check in on their progress…

Unless the pantry potatoes are all show and no potato, I know what I’ll be doing again next year…

The last two hours of light.

I’ve never so enjoyed two hours of pulling weeds. With our dog on a longer rope to wag his way to greet any wandering garden neighbors, my big floppy new garden hat, and my mud-stained leather gloves, I squatted in the garden and pulled weed after rooted weed and lobbed it at the stone wall. The sprawling kind with the fragile arms. The tall ones with the white pillar flowers. The ones like those, but deep purple. The ivy. The frilly crawling ones. One after another, the hit the wall and fell to the earth. Soon there was a spongy bed of pulled weeds along the wall and a clear patch of earth between the peppers and sweet potatoes where for months there had been a growing bed of foliage.

Now the fish peppers are free to stretch their stripey fruit and variegated leaves toward the sweet potatoes.

And the sweet potatoes, they have a bit of a head start on the reaching-toward-the-peppers…

With the weeds gone, I marched to the tool hut for a shovel and wheelbarrow. Our gardens are supplied with a regular pile of mulch that composts nicely. The hut was sans shovel. It was then that I remembered the hut had been sans shovel for months. That’s ok. I’d learned last time that a wheelbarrow tilted just-so with a hoe to pull the mulch worked as well as I needed.

I tilted the wheelbarrow just-so. I pulled the mulch into it. Tilted it level. Backed it up off the mound and…nada. The wheelbarrow wouldn’t move. Perhaps I was in a hole? Check…nope. No hole. A completely flat tire? Yeah, one of those.

I went looking in the tool hut. There were two new contraptions. They’re like buckets, with tall backs like chairs, that have handles in the back and wheels on the front. Handbarrow? Not sure of the actual name, but it would have to do the trick. It worked surprisingly well! It only held about half of a wheelbarrow’s worth at a time, but was easier on my shoulders than a wheelbarrow. I don’t think it would work outside of a well tended path area, but for a place such as our gardens, it seems kind of perfect.

I hadn’t planned on watering, but with the triple digit heat before this “cool spell” and more heat expected, I figured the last hoorah of tomatoes could use the extra juice.

The tomatoes are definitely slowing down on production in this heat. Last year production didn’t make it until July, and this year the later heat and additional rainfall (additional? I mean the fact that there was rainfall at all) has them still going for at least the next week or two.

As much as they’re slowing down in production, they’re still growing. The camera is sitting on the top of a T-post, five feet tall.

They’re getting taller. Last summer my Cherry Chadwick vines were 15 feet long by the time the first frost hit in November. As they get taller, they point out the weaknesses in my trellising plan. These aren’t the tallest vines, they’re just the ones that have yet to fallen over. The others have all fallen over. They don’t fall sideways, because of the twine. They instead fall down the line, between the lengths of twine. This keeps the picking areas as clear as they have been, but it creates such a deeply thick jungle of vines and leaves, that the fruit is hidden from view. A little tomato hide and seek.

I know the Cherry Chadwicks, and the Black Princes will make it through the summer with careful water management and send a second harvest into the world after the heat of the summer has passed. I am excited to see if any other varieties do the same.