This entry brings to a close this year's garden. The productivity and coolness of this garden continue to astound me, and I want MORE MORE MORE next year.
Ok, so the plants are done for and should be completely removed. Why you ask? Because pathogens (the organisms that like to share your food when you aren't looking) ain't stupid. They lay their disgusting eggs and spores on the plants that their evil offspring will be munching on, so it stands to reason that you can eliminate some of the problem by getting rid of the old plants. This is the least glorious aspect of gardening, but it must be done or you are asking for a more chemical pesticide-intensive garden next year. So make it easier on everyone, put on some nasty old clothes and get out there. While you are doing that test your soil's pH which should be about 7.0. If it is less than that, lime it to adjust the pH to 7.0ish. The reasons why are in one of the first blog entries for this year's garden blog. Look it up if you want to.
I think part of veggie gardening's cool factor are the thought processes trampling all over me when I think about my garden. Concepts I put out there-
Which plants are the very easiest to grow?
Which veggies can be stored for use months later?
Which ones require the least pesticides?
Which ones am I most likely to actually consume?
Which ones save me the most money in the grocery store?
Which ones require the least water?
I found my brain tickled by various obstacles and problems that I enjoyed solving (but not necessarily doing)
1. Immediately after planting, deer uprooted almost everything- fence (four hours)
2. Immediately after the fence went up, I found rabbits going under fence (two hours)
3. Insect attacks on many plants from all directions- (some spraying needed)
4. Tomato stakes- forget store bought stakes! Coming year I am going to make rows of fencing that I can tie the plants to. I have to plant them much farther apart. They got HUGE!
Now I know for next year, there is a constant attack from all sectors on my garden, and you gotta protect that space from intruders.
I am continually astounded by how many people are freaked out at the idea that plants need to be fed (and watered also). When I tell them their plants look horrible and inquire about the feeding plan, I get a lot of blank empty stares. The first response is usually "OHH NOOO, God forbid, I'M NOT using chemicals in my garden!
What they do not understand is this: humans are made up of chemicals and water. Plants are made up of chemicals and water. So are animals. so is everything. If one is going to eat, one has to ingest- you guessed it- chemicals and water. Growing plants are like little factories, there is a production line and when the raw materials are in the soil in the needed amounts, everything is fine. When something in the production line is no longer available, production screeches to a halt. Sometimes humans can see this, sometimes they cant and when it's time to harvest, people wonder why they only got one tomato.
You gotta feed your plants otherwise gardening might just not be worth it. Use a chemical fertilizer (my choice). Use an organic fertilizer (many people's choice). A molecule is a molecule is a molecule, whether it came from a dead cow or a chemical plant. When I look at labels I see the same molecules in both types, so until someone can show me proof that there is some benefit to organic chemicals, I'm sticking with Harrells 17-6-12 9 month fertilizer.
One thing you should do now is add lots of undecomposed organic matter to the soil for the microbes to munch on in next years garden. Leaves, ground up sticks, wood chips that are semi-rotted. Anything to feed the microbes and add tilth and sponginess to the garden soil.
To be continually updated and added to
David Benjamin- horticulture degree North Carolina State University graduated 1983, has worked at the nursery since 1976. Somewhat tired of eating grocery store food.