It seems that everything I plant for the late summer and fall garden needs some kind of protection. This time of year, with hot and dry conditions, I like to give everything a thick mulch after planting. I usually use either straw or shredded paper for mulch. The mulch conserves moisture, suppresses weeds, and helps keep the soil cooler.
The Red Belgian endive in the photo above was planted in mid July. Thanks to a mulch of shredded paper, it is growing nicely even in our hot weather. And I’ve only had to water it occasionally, despite our lack of summer rain.
The birds are also a big problem here. They will peck and eat any and all unprotected plants. So I have to cover all the tender young seedlings with bird netting. I planted some lettuce this past week in an area that gets afternoon shade. After planting I mulched with shredded paper, then covered the bottom half of the cold frame with bird netting. That way I didn’t have to remove the material used for the cold frame cover, which isn’t needed in warm weather.
In the main garden I am using PVC pipe to make a frame to hold the bird netting. It’s similar to frames used for low tunnels. I sink a piece of 3/8″ rebar into the ground as an anchor, then slide the 1/2″ PVC pipe onto the rebar. I’m using old fashioned wooden clothes pins to secure the bird netting to the PVC pieces.
After enriching the soil with compost, I planted Beira Tronchuda cabbage (aka Portugese kale), Lacinato kale, collard greens and broccoli in the beds where garlic had been growing. I mulched the plants with straw and watered them in with a drink of fish emulsion before covering with the netting.
The rest of my planting of kale went in a garden spot where bush beans grew this spring. Here I have Beedy’s Camden, Lacinato Rainbow and Winterbor kales planted, along with more broccoli and some cabbage and cauliflower. Later in the season I can use the PVC frame to support some floating row cover material to protect the plants and help extend the season a bit.
Carrot seeds take a fairly long time to germinate, typically one to three weeks depending on soil temperatures. I usually cover the seeds with a thin layer of peat based potting soil, then lay a board over the rows. I’ll check them periodically and when I see the first sign of sprouts I’ll remove the boards. In the photo above you can see the boards over the carrot rows, while next to them I have some radishes covered with straw. The radishes will be up in no time. I’ve got some daikon and ‘beauty heart’ types planted here.
Another quick sprouting seed is turnip. I planted several types last week (Hakurei, Tokyo Cross and Purple Top White Globe), watered well, then covered the soil with straw. They were up in three days. After they sprouted I brushed back the straw, where it will serve as a nice mulch. It looks like I will need to do some serious thinning of those turnip seedlings if I want some nice roots and greens.
Deer are always a problem here. We spray repellent periodically, which helps keep them away. Still, it wears off and they come back for a meal. Hostas are like deer lettuce – and they really like them! In the photo above you can see Old Glory was ‘pruned’ back recently by them. Oh well, the hostas are looking a little tired by this point in the season anyway. At least they left a few leaves.
That’s not all they left. It appears they have also been hanging out near the asparagus beds. They don’t eat the mature foliage, but they did leave their calling card as you can see in the photo above. For all I know they may have bedded down there. Looks like I need to spray some repellent in that area soon. I wish I could repel them away for good! We spend lots of time (and money) trying to protect almost everything we grow from the marauding deer.
That’s a look at some of the types of protection I use around the gardens, and also a peek at what’s been planted for our fall garden. If I’ve done a good job of protecting the crops, then we will have plenty to eat from the garden in the coming months.