Monday, September 8, 2014
Mother Nature has finally and firmly taught us that she abhors bare soil. If we do not plant something, then she will see that plants grow to cover the ground. Her choice is always pernicious weeds. To keep our garden soil somewhat clear of weeds we plant buckwheat. Squash formerly grew in the area behind the mammoth pink chrysanthemums. Grass clippings were spread under the young squash plants so the bed was relatively weed free when the squash played out. The squash and clippings were removed, then a quick session with the stone fork left the bed ready for seed. Compost was applied thinly over the seed. Timely rain followed our feeble watering attempts with the sprinkling can. A thick buckwheat cover will prevent weed seed germination. All that remains to be done here is to cut down the buckwheat at the appropriate time. I always wait too long as the bees heavily feed on buckwheat flowers. Few food sources remain for the bees so I leave the buckwheat flowers standing.
More potatoes were harvested today to make space for the last lettuce planting. We start all of our lettuce in these plastic pots for several reasons. Lettuce seed will not germinate if the soil is warm. Our cool basement remains at a temperature lettuce seed is comfortable with. Dimming eyesight and fumble fingers combine to make planting individual seeds while kneeling on the ground unlikely. Working at a high bench improves the single seed odds but we still need to thin before transplanting out. Thinning at a high bench beats thinning at ground level every time. This is another example of modify and adjust.
Dividing bearded iris still frightens me. Breaking them apart and cutting the leaves to a short fan seems deadly to me. Shallowly planted so that the rhizome burns daily in the sun also seems unwise to me. Reluctantly, the described process was followed and this shows their condition today. Bright sturdy generous new growth has these plants well conditioned for next season's display. I simply must toughen up.
Here is a picture of a dismal failure that directly followed my mistake. Tomato seeds are started indoors here way too early. Transplanted into one gallon pots, the plants were outside growing on early warm days. When severe weather threatened, the pots were moved indoors. After our June 1st frost free date, the plants were set out in the garden. This is when it all went wrong. I know that soil splash on tomato leaves is deadly. When the pots were inverted to shake the plants free, the covering straw mulch failed to hold all of the soil. Some soil rained down on the undersides of the leaves. Trouble was expected but we had no idea how to prevent it. Slowly the leaves blackened starting at the bottom of the plant. We still enjoyed a bountiful tomato harvest but fresh tomato season has ended one month early for us this year. A plastic lid has been found that can be modified to slip around a stem. Allowing the plant to slip from the pot onto that lid might contain the soil away from the underside of the leaves. We also need fewer plants. Sixteen tomato plants supply way more fresh tomatoes than two people can eat. We have had enough bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches until next year..