Monday, March 21, 2011

A year in the Life of my garden - August through December

August is the hottest month here in North Carolina. As the mercury rises, my desire to go outdoors and work in my garden is beginning to wain. I only go out in early morning and late evening to water and harvest. I spend my small amount of work time this month picking up any trash in my yard and cleaning up sticks and branches that occasionally drop so the autumn leaf collection will be easier on my mower blades. By mid August, my sweet potatoes I planted in July are trailing. I will let these grow until the first frost. I harvest cantaloupe and other melons at the end of July and beginning of August. By mid August I harvest the last of my squash, my green beans, onions, and almost everything else in the garden.

You also plant fall crops in August. New batches of lettuce, carrots and parsnips, more broccoli, greens, etc. I usually do not plant fall crops, but I plan to save one bed for fall crops this year. I am hoping that having some green going in my garden this fall and winter will stave off the winter blues as long as possible. August is so hot and is really spent just trying to keep cool!

September brings the next phase in my Lasagna Garden. My tomato plants are yellow, brown and droopy, the foliage is almost totally gone and the tomatoes that are left are usually unlikely to ripen before they fall off the vine and rot. The only thing left in the garden are sweet potatoes and this year any fall crops I will have. I use this time to fortify unplanted spots with any grass clippings and compost I have been saving throughout the year. I spread this material over the garden liberally. Then the leaves begin to fall.

This time of year is so hard for me. With the Autumnal Equinox, the weather begins to cool, the leaves begin to fall, my garden is entering a dormant stage. October brings a two month long process of taking any leaves that fall in my yard and dumping them into my garden. I mow them up with my riding mower and grass catcher attachment. Before I had the attachment, I used my mower to mulch them and blow them into bigger piles for easier collection.

October also usually brings the first frost, I pull the tops off my sweet potatoes around October 15. I allow the sweet potatoes to sit in the ground for about a week, then I dig them up. Sweet potatoes store well, but if we have an overabundance, we pressure can them or freeze them.

By the time I am done with this process around Thanksgiving, my garden looks like a tiny mountain range going through my yard! I stack the leaves until my beds are at least 3' deep. I set some leaves aside in the compost pile to fortify the beds that have winter plantings. When the crops are harvested, I will add any composted materials to that bed.

In December, if we have a warm day, I go out and knock the tops off the mountains a little and just sort of flatten out the whole thing. Six weeks after I've finished the process of adding a couple feet of leaves to the tops of my beds. By early January, the leaves have rotted down a bit and it looks like this:

So that is a year in the life of my garden!

Next post: some new Lasagna beds. Sharing the beginning of the process.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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