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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fall planting

For years, we were bamboozled by the term "fall planting." It conjured up an image of late September afternoons, dew on orb-weaver spiders' webs, and pumpkins taking on that golden sheen. The problem with putting in seeds for winter harvests in the fall is, of course, that the days are already too short for proper growth.

Eventually, perhaps in our reading, or just stumbling around in the garden, we caught on. Fall planting is done in high summer. Everything should put on height and weight before the short days. The trick is not to let the heat "bolt" things -- cause them to run to flower and try to set seed.

We've hung a shade over the first of the two beds that are in the polytunnel, and we'll hope that helps some.

Here risa is cutting through the newspaper/straw mulch in one of the beds with a right-angled trowel. She'll make an opening in the mulch about seven inches in diameter.

She spreads a handful of compost/potting soil mix on the spot ...

... shakes out a mix of seeds from her shaker -- beets, spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, kohlrabi, radishes, turnips, bok choi ...

... and spreads a bit more potting soil over them, lightly, before moving on to the next spot. Later, she'll bring the watering can and soak each hill gently, with the rose of the can at ground level. Much later, as in a month or so, she'll thin the hills.

This isn't a perfect procedure. Lettuce, for example, really likes a bit more sunlight than this for sprouting. But we find that splitting the difference works okay, and gives us fewer things to have to think about. One size almost fits all, so to speak.

The resulting bed, as a rule, after thinning, has enough variety of plant life to confuse plant predators and to share space with different root systems going after different nutrients. A new term might be needed: "fall polytunnel polyculture planting," perhaps?

92 in the shade ... going inside.

Love to all,

risa
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