Monday, September 13, 2010

The best time of year

This really is the best time of year in the garden, isn't it? The satisfaction of removing old, dry, dying plants, freshening the soil with new amendments, whether it be compost, rotted manure, or just plain fertilizer, and starting fresh with new seeds and tender green plants.

The struggle this year, until this weekend's rain, was that the soil was bone dry. Dry on the surface and inches down into the bed. I was watering all my seedlings and transplants twice a day, every day. I had emptied my rain barrels and strained my lower back carrying the water to the plants. But, it was worth it. With plenty of water, my transplants doubled and tripled in size in only a week. Rapini seeds germinated and popped up in only 3 days, as did Blue Curled Vates kale seeds.

Here you have a photo of the arugula seedlings, just a few days after transplanting. They had been hardened off (were ready for the full sun and breezes) before purchase, so did fine from the minute I popped them in the soil. The other photo is the full bed of new fall plants. Those in the middle have branch tips from weedy bushes in the marsh, broken off and placed on the south and southwest sides of each plant to give them some shade. By the time the photo was taken they were a few days old, and wilted. Those protective branch tips now have been removed, as the plants have adapted to the sun and wind.

What is in the ground? Arugula, kale, collards (2 types), endive, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, rapini (2 types), and broccoli. The latest addition, some buttercrunch lettuce plants and some romaine lettuce plants. The days are still hot, but I am hoping the cool nights are just right. I still have 3 Spanish pepper plants, one basil, a "fish" pepper, and half a bed of sweet potatoes from the summer season. New plants and seeds soon with take their place as well.

Finally a shot of the beautiful annual flowers that volunteered in a front bed this year, from seed dropped by last year's flowers. Despite no attention, and not even being picked or deadheaded, the patch just keeps getting larger. Right now the butterflies cover the flowers every day, and it is a beautiful site.

Ahhh, the fall garden is a wonderful thing.