All the photos in this blog were taken by me. The information is taken from friends, books, magazines, conversations at nurseries, the internet and a few of my own amateur-gardener thoughts. Please feel free to share your own knowledge and experiences in the comment section that follows each posting.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Get Down and Dirty

If you've never known anyone who is proud of their dirt, you do now. I put a lot of energy into my dirt and I am not talking about the things I've done that deserved a hand-slap, a detention or a policeman. I'm talking about the soil that nourishes the plants. It's soil plus my compost, my worm castings and various other amendments that provide nutrients and texture. Soil has its own ecosystem full of life such as: earthworms, insects, bacteria, and fungi. It is all necessary for a successful garden.

The circle of soil's starting point is hard to determine. Is it the tomato peel that's thrown into the compost pile? Or is it the compost that's thrown into the garden bed? Do you see what I mean? It goes on and on and on. It's sustainable. Imagine these pictures in a circle:

Get it? I love my dirt.

End of Summer - Start of Fall

By the end of summer, I started seeing some powdery mildew on the zucchini and cucumbers. It looked like a light gray or white substance on the leaf. 

There are several different types of powdery mildew and it can even be found on ornamentals. To prevent it, the plants need adequate space, a lot of sunlight and not too much water or moisture. This is hard to do as our daylight gets shorter and evenings cooler. I chose to just cut out the leaves on the larger-than-life zucchini plant. However, my cucumber was so covered with it and the leaves became so brittle, I pulled the whole plant out. Poof, done, it's out of the game. There are some sources that say to use a neem oil, if you're into that, but I chose to see it as a symbol of the end of summer. It's time to move on to cool season vegetables. 

Garden Goal
I am working towards a year-round garden so instead of pulling everything out and starting with four, empty beds, I planted several winter vegetables alongside the remaining summer plants. For example, I planted a row of different varieties of lettuce underneath a billowing, leafy collard plant. It will provide adequate shading during the heat of these early Fall days. I also planted broccoli and cauliflower amongst the still-producing peppers. It's a bit of a puzzle right now, an art project. I like how it looks with colors and sizes blending together. It will be interesting as the new plants grow and the old plants wither. You know I can get fussy about the visual. 

Below is a list of some of the cool season vegetables I will plant. I like to plant a few in succession so each harvest isn't ready all at the same time.

Brussel Sprouts  
Bok Choy
Peas (Sugar and Snap)
Lettuce/Salad Greens

Don't forget herbs for upcoming holiday cooking: Parsley, Rosemary, Tarragon, Thyme, Sage.
And don't forget spring-flowering bulbs and edible flowers such as pansies and violas. 

Here is a look at the final days of my summer garden. 

The garden at the end of the pool - fully grown-in! 

The vegetable garden entrance


Even Hotter Peppers

The Basket - Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes, a Lemon, Basil and Dahlias! 

As you see, I am proud of my dirt. It's how we grow. It's what builds character. It makes us who we are. 
Be proud of your dirt! 

Still wondering about that policeman?

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