Returning to Our Roots | Planting Our Fall Garden
The first week of this month, I broke out the garden hoe and my seeds and got to planting. It feels really weird writing this, because I am usually waaaay behind schedule when it comes to blog posts, which means I am writing and photographing them either the day that they happen. I was truthfully blogging in real time for the past year, which seems kind of crazy now that I have my act together. Life is much less stressful, that's the truth! And I actually have time to try things out. Woohoo! But that leaves me with having an entire month of blogging planned out, and my gardening activities actually happening in the weeks before my post comes out. So, even though we are talking about planting out fall gardens today, I truthfully started planting it on the 2nd of August, and here I am, on the 4th telling you about it, which you'll read on the 9th! Crazy how that works, right?
My dad came home from work the other day to me bent over in the garden pulling out all of the zucchini plants. I had been standing there in the hot sun starting at them for the past half hour debating back and forth whether I truly wanted them to be dead and gone. Would I regret it? Maybe there was still some time left for more fruit to begin growing! And while there might have been one or two more zucchini for our family, we already had 10 freezer bags full of zucchini and about 6 squash left in the pantry. We were covered for winter, so that wasn't an issue, but I really hated tearing out those established plants when there was promise of more. But I sighed, checking out their vines and realizing that the squash bugs had truly gotten to them, that at most they were producing fruit that was oddly shaped and molding at the tips, and there was nothing I could do about it. As much as I love trying essential oils and diatomaceous earth on pests, it had just gone a little too far. Plus, they were starting to take over and look like a mess. Out you go, zucchini. My dad wandered up to the fence and asked if he could lend a hand, to which I happily obliged. We finished tearing out the side of the garden with the most zucchini, left the three remaining plants that are in the pumpkin bed, and cultivated the soil. That left me an almost full bed to plant for fall crops! There are still some nasturtiums at the end near the gate, but they don't take up much room. Now what?
Before the great zucchini massacre, I had also cleared out our remaining lettuces and broccoli, half of the kale, leeks, green onions, yellow onions, and cabbages. Our cabbages never formed heads, which I still can't figure out the reason behind other than perhaps there's something off in our soil for that plant? So those were the first to go, after another long debate and the slightest ounce of hope for their success. That left me with two entire beds, two half beds, and one quarter of a bed to plant in. Thankfully, I don't have much to plant for the fall! It was a few weeks ago that I started broccoli, broccoli raab, and cauliflower in the greenhouse. Want to know something ridiculous? I didn't label them. Am I an idiot or what?! And they all look the same as seedlings because they're all brassicas! Oi. DUH. I ended up looking at the seed packets, and they all needed around the same amount of spacing between plants and rows, the cauliflower needing about another 6 inches, which is quite a bit. I decided to plant them all in the same bed, where the yellow and Vidalia onions used to be. There are six of each mystery plant; once the cauliflower starts to develop more, and I can figure out which ones they are, then I'll move them somewhere else. For now, they are being named the Mystery Brassicas, and I am in utter awe at my own stupidity.
As for the rest, the parsnips, turnips, and beets were all planted in the zucchini bed. I tried to kill as many squash bugs as I could find! The reason I planted nasturtiums nearby was because squash bugs are easily attracted to them and will generally leave squash alone to munch on the flowers. Maybe next year, I'll really interplant them for that reason. In the other half of the kale bed, I planted spinach and arugula seeds. Can't wait to try spinach again since mine bolted! In the lettuce and old broccoli bed, I planted more lettuce interplanted with radishes and carrots. Yay! So pumped for more radishes and carrots. So fun!!
And in the cabbage bed, which is only a quarter of space? More flowers! I didn't realize that I could plant more flowers for autumn blooms, so I went crazy with the remaining seeds I had left. I purchased several varieties of salmon colored flowers from Floret Flower, which never sprouted in trays, so I am hoping I have better results with direct sowing. Not sure if anyone else has had trouble with their seeds, but they were difficult to start! I do have a few salmon pink nasturtiums growing right now from them, and I love them to bits. There is also a second set of sunflowers growing by the fence, which I am so excited for. Hoping to have blooms by the end of September/October. Won't that be lovely?
As of now, all of our new seeds have sprouted, save for the parsnips which are just not doing well. I have noticed some munching of leaves on my broccoli and cauliflower starts... the only thing I have seen to prevent this is row covers, which I don't really want to go out and purchase. Any tips? Would diluted garlic work fine? Perhaps I will just let nature take its course. That's kind of how I've been feeling about most of it lately. What are you planting for autumn? I hope something delicious! There is nothing more rewarding than feeding your family completely from your own hard work in the garden.