I have deciding to scale back my normal fall garden plantings this year at HA. The heat wave and drought of 2012 have truly worn me out. My wife and I have been struggling to keep plants alive for several months now, and the thought of nursing lots of little baby plants for a couple of more months is just too much to think about.
I will skip planting my usual broccoli, cabbage, radicchio, collards, and many of the Asian greens. I will plant kale, kohlrabi, and turnips. I should be able to grow beets and radishes later on too. I will try and grow lettuce when the temperatures moderate. I gave up on growing summer lettuce at all this year. And I can start spinach later in fall, when surely we will have some autumnal weather. I should also be able to grow Asian greens in the cold frames this winter.
The deer have also added to our frustrations. Since they continue to reproduce, and move into our more urban areas, their pressure gets worse every year. The drought has been hard on them as well. They have eaten more things than usual this year, and will readily eat anything that is not well protected. This week they mowed down a small planting of chard, and even ate some young okra plants I was growing for seed collection. They have eaten the cucumber vines to the point that they just can’t make cucumbers. Last year we were giving them away, but not this year.
To deal with the drought, I am trying to grow larger seedlings, potting them up in larger containers so it will be easier and quicker to get the plants established once I set them into the ground. Of course they will have to be mulched, protected, caged, and manned with armed guards 24/7 to keep all the hungry hordes away from them. I hope I am up to the task! Being an animal lover and a gardener often calls for difficult choices.
I also have a new (to us) green to try growing this summer. It is called Huauzontle, or Red Aztec Spinach. I got the seed from fellow MG Ruth, who has been growing it for several years now. It is a close relative of Lamb’s Quarter, so it will need to be protected from the deer and rabbits since both are fond of that wild green. Both the young leaves and the flower stalks are edible. And it loves the heat and dry conditions, so it should be a happy camper right now!
We are planning on growing broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, turnips, beets and kohlrabi at the Impact Community Garden this fall. They have a crew on watering duty that can hopefully keep things going there. And they don’t have critter problems like we do here, so that will make it a bit easier.
We are blessed with two freezers that are nearly full of food, and a cellar with potatoes, winter squash, garlic and onions, so cutting back on the fall garden will still leave us with lots of homegrown goodies. And when the rains finally come again, and temperatures cool, I’ll be ready to garden accordingly.