Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chill of an Early Fall

The cold front that slid into central Texas last week kicked my fall gardening into high gear. I seldom get the new garden in as early as I am supposed to, but I have a hard time planting cool weather crops when temps are in the mid to high 90s

Fall gardening is normally much easier than spring gardening becuase insect pests are fewer, we normall have decent moisture, and the plants don't have to endure the extreme heat of our central Texas summers.

I would love to have a larger garden space, but in deference to my wife and her desire to keep our friends and neighbors from thinking I am completely insane, I limit the vegetable garden to the smallest space I have used since I started gardening, this 8X16 foot raised bed.

Prepping for planting

Since our home is moving toward becoming an empty nest in the next five years or so, I will hold off a little longer on my plans for a half acre year round garden. My hope is that someday I will be able to provide all the veggies we need from our own organic garden. I love the idea of being as self-sufficient as possible for my food. 

I was successful in convincing my bride that we needed an herb garden near the back door  to be convenient for cooking...

Herb Garden

Years ago I learned the value of having a compost pile to enrich our notoriously poor hill country soil. I have two different composters. The first is the tried and true open bin, from plans I found in an old Victory Garden book. One of these bins has occupied a space in my backyard for probably fifteen years. They are great for all kinds of yard waste, especially f you have copious amounts.

Composting Central
The second composter is constructed from a plastic barrel, purchased from a local gardener that solves the issue of composting kitchen waster without attracting rodents. This was an expensive lesson learned after rats discovered my compost bins last year and also invaded my garage, where they destroyed almost $1000 of camping and hunting items.

While this design does keep the rodents at bay, the rotating of the barrel to mix the compost does cause the finished product come out a bit more like clods than the finer consistency of the bin method. It also has a much smaller capacity, but it also has the advantage of speeding the composting process.

Bin composter contents

Time for some elbow grease

Screening the compost

It is oddly rewarding to see the rich crumbly material in the wheelbarrow after sifting. I try to ad about six inches to the raised bed before each planting season.

The results from the composters

Soon we will be enjoying several type of leaf lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and radishes. So much better than store bought!

Last year's crop   

Oh...and studies show that everything is better with a little George Strait. You're welcome.

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