Summer is drawing to a close. It is late August, the kids are back in school, the winds have shifted, and it is time to take stock.
The not-a-square-foot garden is a success. We’re still harvesting large and small tomatoes and many peppers thanks to some shade cloths. Our compost had a pleasant mellowing effect on the spicy-ness of our produce this year; more on that later. The jalapenos are sweet and the mucho nachos are perfect for salad, and corn salsas. In mid-June the sun was too hot for the squash and cucumbers, but landscaping fabric is cheap. A 36 inch by 45 yard roll costs $5 and provided five, five-foot shades (plus enough left over fabric for next year). We secured the shades to the protective chicken wire that covers the garden, with clothespins.
We bought plastic clothespins initially, 50 for a dollar, and used those to attach the shade cloths. However, the high UV summer sun deteriorated the plastic in three weeks! In early July, we had a nice summer storm with some hefty gusts and a few clips let go. The following day I went out to check the plants are reattach the shades. Every clothespin I touched snapped into pieces. Could not believe it! Now the shades are held in place with wooden clothespins; they are holding up great.
The compost we added to the soil this spring, homegrown and three years old, worked wonders. In all years previous, our produce was generally spicy, and “sweet” varieties tasted bland. Up to this point we guessed it had something to do with our clay soil’s ph. Turns out clay soil is not necessarily acidic, but all clay soils act acidic. The local college extension center tested a soil sample and low and behold our clay is acidic, but only a little.
Our compost contains a great deal of eggshells (easily 1/8th by volume) and the calcium from the shells provide powerful alkali cations Ca++. Applying so much eggshell, banana peel, and kitchen waste compost to our mildly acidic soil, has taken the spicy edge off. While we were testing things we tested our well water too, it is mildly alkaline, so the more we water (ie the less it rains) the sweeter our garden will be.
Okra taught us not to jump the gun and transplant too soon. We transplanted four seedlings in April, but the soil temperatures were not yet acceptable. Three of the four seedlings wilted away, but the last one is producing. We supplement our meager production with trips to the farmer’s market this year, but hope for okra self-reliance next year.
Now that the water at the lake is getting cool it is time to plan and plant the fall gardening. This is our first time fall planting so if you know anything about fall gardening, leave a link in the comments below!
We have radish, squash, and bush beans to plant, but that’s about it. We’ll see how it works out.