Working With The Summer – Part Two

Thanks for joining us as we continue our Working With the Summer series.  I hope it helps someone out there to not completely give up! If you are like most of us gardeners, you need your hands in the dirt at least once a week to feel fulfilled. It’s like an itch that must be scratched. This makes winters and summers all the more difficult to endure! Difficult, not impossible – how?

Plan for Fall Planting

Back in the day when I just had a small inkling of a feeling that I wanted to grow food, I had no idea how much planning went into gardening.  Admittedly, I was so naive. I can laugh at myself now that I have learned a little bit more.  Two excellent times of the year to plan out your garden space is Summer (for Fall) and Winter (for Spring).  During the Summer many of the Spring time cash crops have died back or been pulled leaving garden beds looking bare. Fret not – take to the air-conditioned house & map out next years garden beds!

  • Crop Rotation is just what it sounds like.  Basically you move your crops around from one growing season to the next to avoid draining the soil in one particular bed of certain nutrients and to avoid breeding soil borne pathogens.  One principle that has stuck with me is Brassicas follow Legumes. Meaning that where I had my beans planted this summer would be a great location for my broccoli, kale, collards, and etc.  Legumes are the gifts that keep giving because along with the fruit of the plant their roots fix nitrogen into the soil. Guess what class of plants love nitrogen – Brassicas! Is it starting to make sense now? So go outside examine your garden beds and begin planning! For this you will need a pen and paper I.E. a journal.
  • Clear those garden beds! As you can see, we have done this.  In addition to clearing the beds we have already added some organic composted material and tilled it in as well thus amending the soil for the next planing. Of course, amending was done based on what was planted there.  Areas that had beans would already be nitrogen rich so bone meal or eggshells were added. Get the idea?
  • Starting seedlings during Summer can give you a jump-start on the Fall growing season.  Plants that take a bit longer to reach maturity like most broccoli varieties, cauliflower, and cabbage may be started late from August to September.  Word of caution:  If you live in an area where the temperatures are still very high, you may need a temperature controlled environment to start your seedlings in.  We reside in Zone 8 and for the next 15 days we have forecasted temperatures of 85 – 90 degrees.  We have had more rain than usual, so it seems, thus decreasing the overall temperatures and increasing the humidity. Not to shabby for August. As a result, we started our seedlings outside on our shady back deck.  After they come up we move to a partly sunny part of the deck so they do not become leggy.  Barring unforeseen circumstances and pests,  by mid-September these seedlings should be ready to go into their permanent homes.
  • Take advantage of seed sales! This time of the year many companies are clearing out their Spring and Summer seeds to make way for the new growing season.  This is your moment to set yourselves up for the next growing season.  Again, there is need for caution. Organic seeds will store very well, years even, if stored properly. If your seed is not organic there is a good chance you will have sporadic germination rates upon planting the next growing season. All the more reason to buy and grow organic.  This is true also of saved seeds.

There are many more planning tips we could share but these are our top 4.  Join us again next week as we close out this series. So to your farmers, homesteaders, and gardeners – what tips can you share? Head on over to our Facebook page or our Instagram page and share. After all, sharing is caring!