Digging Deeper Vol. 13

The heat and lack of rainfall continue to take their toll on vegetable and ornamental gardens alike, and we’ve still got 7 weeks of summer left before fall arrives to hopefully give us some relief, and it will be time to plant our fall vegetables and additions to our home landscapes.  We’ve been growing many of my planned landscape prospects in containers during the spring and summer, so we are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to finally get them in the ground.

We have already abandoned our early vegetable gardening as the record heat and drought has fried just about everything.  In our larger garden plot, we are preparing to remove our pole bean trellises and tomato stakes, so we can begin incorporating the plant and fruit residues into the soil, and we also plan some deep subsoil tillage to reduce compaction.  In early September, we plan to sow a cover crop of perennial white clover, and next season, we plan to plant our vegetables directly into the clover, which should prevent many of the weeds from germinating and help hold in soil moisture.

In the back yard at our home, we have taken out the early tomatoes in the large nursery pots and deposited their debris into our ever-growing compost pile.  We have refilled three of the pots with soil and now have young pink German Johnson heirloom tomato plants growing for fresh eating late summer and early fall.  We chose the heirloom variety, since the heirloom varieties performed best in the early crop weather conditions.

We did manage to can 60 quarts of tomatoes, mostly of the Roma variety, for winter soups and stews, and we also canned a number of jars of salsa.  Our new upright freezer is almost full of fruits and vegetables for winter, including zucchini and yellow squash, green and pole beans, two types of lima beans, okra, as well as blueberries, strawberries and sweet cherries.  We plan to be eating home-grown, fresh foods with high nutritive values all winter.

It’s never too early to start planning for fall planting, which is the optimal time for planting perennials, shrubs and trees in the landscape.  By waiting until October to begin reshaping our outdoor living spaces, we avoid the majority of this season’s highest temperatures, and our new plantings will have all winter and spring to become acclimated and develop healthy root systems before having to face one of our hot, dry summers.

So now is a good time to jot down your ideas for renovations, taking pictures and making note of your problem areas while they are still fresh in your mind.  Then take your notes, pictures and rough dimensions of those areas that need improvements down to Head-Lee Nursery and let the staff help you work out solutions for all your problems.  Maybe we’ll see you there!

By Guest Author Randy Peele

As has always been the case with my garden writings, I would like very much for all of you to interact with me in “Digging Deeper.”  Recommended topics, critiques, opinions, questions, etc. all are encouraged and welcomed, and I look forward to hearing from you by e-mail at email@headleenursery.com