Our Garden Almanac -- September 3, 2016

Our Garden Almanac -- September 3, 2016

Our Garden Almanac -- September 3, 2016

There is a significant shift we feel in the air this week, like fall is on the doorstep.  In Northern California, this seems early.  The past few years, to my recollection, were hot and still rather summery on labor day weekend, even well into early October.  I'm sure we'll have our "Indian Summer" yet, but as years go, the garden feels like the plants have all received the message: autumn is on its way.  We see this in the tomatoes, which we have had trouble keeping up with harvesting.  They're all splitting open, spilling their seeds to the ground, ensuring we'll have a lot of "volunteer" plants in our planter box next year and need to extract them when they don't mix well with our intended crops.  We try to rotate our crops in our different beds and the dance of planning our companion planting as the crops turn from one bed to another is sometimes complicated.  This is particularly so because, for all our planning, toward the end of the summer, with an abundance of harvests to try to manage, and fatigue setting in, I tend to "experiment" and plant for the winter wherever and whatever might present itself as likely to work while requiring the least effort.  This is a short term way of thinking and does not always jive with longer term crop rotation considerations.

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled out all our corn.  The harvest was done.  I experimented this year with the corn too.  I got greedy.  I planted as densley as I could in our sidewalk box under a Pistache Tree.  The corn did very well, but the neighbor cat like the shade, and he created a domino effect, knocking down one stalk, which knocked down another and another.  In the end, we propped everything up and everything did alright.  It was interesting, however, to see how the outer stalks developed ears earlier and lower down and the interior stalks developed ears later and higher up where more sunlight could get to them.  The yellow corn was ripe first.  And the white corn was far more tasty.  Our timing was off, because we went away for vacation for two weeks, and about a third of our crop dried up on the stalks while we were gone.  And in the final analysis, I don't think planting in high density resulted in more corn.  The cobs were smaller and the interior stalks did not all produce.  Also, given the small size of the crop, I tend to need to hand polinate, but could not do that in the interior stalks because the plants were so close together and because I put up deer netting to keep that maurauding cat out!  Good lessons learned.  I figured out I want to put a deer netting about two and a half feet up from the soil to keep the cat out, that I don't want to plant as tightly as I did, more like a foot and a half apart, and I want to plant all white corn, because it tastes so much better.  I realize the yellow and white corn distinction may be off.  I should really find out the species names, ya think?

Anyway, when the corn was out, it left behind a lot of good green beans we'd interplanted and some cucumbers and butternut squash plants that had been to sheltered in shade to flower and be polinated much.  With the corn gone, I thought: Let's experiment.  So I left the beans in.  Did I mention we got a great harvest of green beans?  And let's leave in the squash and cucumber and see if there will be enough warm weather to get some winter squash actually grown in the winter!  I'm not terribly optimistic.  Then I interplanted brocolli and romanesque, which two weeks later is holding its own as the squash plants start to spread out and flower with the broccolli and romanesque reaching just above.

Last winter we got some terrific romanesque and this spring our broccolli harvests were very good.  So we're hoping to repeat our success and our interested to see how broccolli, romanesque, beans, and squash mix!

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