It’s amazing to think that summer is winding down. We have gone through the whole first planting of the garden. The only things left from the first planting are the tomatoes and peppers. We are now prepping for the fall. But, first let me tell you what I have learned from this first part of our garden.
Turns out bush beans are cold hardy and heat tolerant. We planted the beans after what should have been the last frost date, but got a late frost, and the beans were totally okay. They still thrived. I also had them planted in an area that gets about 5 hours of sun, and the rest of the day is shaded. That made it very nice for when the summer heated up. The beans still did great back there. The peas did great when planted in the spring. The summer planting however failed. They didn’t grow big enough to support pods. We are going to pull them all this week and replant. The Sugar Snap variety however grew up no problem. I’ll keep those plants going for now.
Carrots hate the heat here. They have yet to really do much. We got some carrots from our spring planting, but the summer ones in the shaded area have done nothing. I’m going to pull them and replant to try a fall harvest. Swiss chard is a huge hit here all year. I planted the first round in the spring, and they tolerated the heat and are still going strong. They seem to be approaching the end of their production, but I’m not sure. I do have a second planting for the fall that are doing great. I planted them in July and they have happily grown.
The zucchini quit very early, but had a fantastic yield. I did plant 4 more for the fall as an experiment. We’re going to attempt a vertical climb for them. I also don’t know if it’ll get too cold for them to produce well, but we shall see.
I have also discovered the idea of pea shoots. Turns out pea plants are delicious! Who knew! So, I purchased some Dundale Pea seeds. They should arrive next week. I plan on sowing them for the shoots. I might also plant some for the pods. The peas and their pods are both edible and are apparently very good for you. So I think I will do both methods.
Also, I have learned of the benefits of ground cover. One problem with letting your garden just lay fallow over the winter is that you can lose some of your soil. Also, you have a great opportunity over the winter to replenish nutrients in your soil. Even in a raised planter, you should be able to replenish your soil every year without having to replace it. If your soil has been depleted of nutrients, then a ground cover crop is your best option. There are a ton of options that you can plant. For this year I have decided to do a mix that is offered by True Leaf Market. They have a blend called Garden Cover Crop Seed Mix. What they have done is prepare a mix that covers a variety of needs. If you don’t want to test your soil to find out exactly what you are missing, a blend like this is fantastic. You can grow it in your garden or your planters to help replenish a lot of the nutrients that your veggies have sucked out. One important key is to not let any of it go to seed and fall. You will need to remove anything seed related before it drops, otherwise it will come up again in the spring. If you want to have it in the spring than that might be alright, but you never know when a seed will activate. I prefer to have full control of what is growing, so I will pick the seeds. In the spring you will cut it all down and you can either leave it in place to decompose, or you can work it into the soil by mixing or tilling. We plan on mixing it in to spread the leaf and plant matter through the soil. They loving call this Green Manure. The other great thing about the ground cover is that it also helps to loosen your soil. We have a couple old planters that are almost completely clay. I’m going to plant the ground cover mix there to really get that soil loosened enough so that in the spring we can get it out and mix it with peat moss and other compost to bring it back to life.
That’s a lot of what we have learned and discovered so far. It’s a bit of a learning curve for me because I am so used to Canadian growing seasons. I have to change a lot of my plantings to coincide with cooler seasons. I think the Spring plantings I am used to are more of a fall planting here. For example, peas don’t grow well when the temperature is above 70F. That means spring gives very little time for the peas, unless we plant super early. We might get lucky if we plant in September though. It should cool down just enough. Hopefully I will have some good pictures of the fall plantings in a month or two. Fingers crossed for a good fall growing season!