Maybe I am a fall and winter gardener after all. Remember, last fall, when I confessed the fact that I just wasn’t feeling it? I don’t blame her, last fall Stacy, I mean. When school starts, my blissful life as urban farmer comes to a screeching halt. Because during the summer, I quite literally just work in my garden.
Fall spinach sprouting
People ask me all the time what I do during my summer vacations and while I don’t take on an official summer job, it sure feels like one. Maintaining an urban garden of the scale that mine has become takes dedication and constant maintenance.
People say to me all the time that they don’t have a green thumb, but for me, it really just boils down to commitment and vigilance. And there are a lot of things to constantly be assessing and negotiating in the yard. Cue dizzying inner dialogue: Water, but not too much. Fertilize, but pay attention to what you’re giving to what plants. Do they need nitrogen for leafy growth? A more balanced fertilizer for Â fruit production? Harvest! Quick! Or they’ll go to seed! No wait! I want those to go to seed – I’m saving those! Where am I going to put these new fall starts? Hmm, in this empty spot! But, wait! I already had brassicas there! And what are those holes in my kale! Gotta get those fall seeds in the ground so they’ll germinate, but can’t let it dry out. Baby lettuces are wilting in this crazy fall sun! Shade cloth, STAT! Oh wait, now seedlings are getting leggy because shade cloth is too shady! Water in the morning before heat causes crazy evaporation! Yes, but greens can use a shot of water in the evening to cool the soil down. They like cool! But, it’s 84 degrees!
The good thing is, the more I garden, the more these things start to be intuitive so I don’t have to stress out or deliberate every single decision that is to be made. The more experience I have with a crop, the more ease I have when cultivating it season after season.
And if something fails, I can just try again next time because we’re not really in control of our gardens after all. I got my kale and cauliflower starts in the ground just in time for fall, but I did not plan on them getting munched by slugs and then devoured my cabbage worms.
So right now, as I make my transition into a day job-working urban farmer, I’m taking things one step at a time. And on this weekend’s agenda was harvest. I had high hopes to go the Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair, but I made a decision to spend the time celebrating the harvest in my own yard instead. And this is what I had to celebrate:
- 7 1/2 more pounds of ripe tomatoes, for a grand total so far of 39 pounds! I had a few ripe jalapenos too. Salsa anyone?
- 8 pounds of fingerling and purple potatoes. Not the most bountiful potato harvest, but I am grateful just the same. And really, have you seen a bigger purple potato?
- Several flats of Trail of Tears black beans and this was an improvement over last year. Remember when I told you (in this post) that I left them on the vine too long (like until the rains came) and then they got all moldy in my humid kitchen?Â Lesson learned! I’m going to have more pots of black beans this year!
- I harvested another 1 1/2 pounds of zucchini for a grand total of…3 pounds. (Game show sound of disappointment…wah wah) Yes, fellow Seattle gardeners, I have harvested 39 pounds of heirloom tomatoes (and there are more to come) and just 3 pounds of squash??? I cannot explain what happened in my crazy little micro-climate.
- I also harvested tons of coriander for my Indian food habit.
Ok, so technically it’s still summer, but with school back in session, it sure doesn’t feel that way. So maybe I am a fall gardener after all.