Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fall Molt

It's transition time in the garden. We are nearing the end of a grueling Summer and entering the unknown of a season called Fall. Seems the most productive plants in the garden were the ones I didn't eat, although eaten by many of my insect and bird friends.


The few amaranth that returned from last year were very productive, although I could have eaten the leaves which was the original intent in growing them, I decided to let them go so that more would return next year. Also, I think they are attractive and provide food for the birds. 

Another returning visitor is Tithonia. It too looks good in the garden and provides seed for finches and is a great source of pollen and nectar for bumbles and butterflies. 


And yet another returning friend is the Four O'Clock. I'm partial to the white and marbled ones. I have some lemon marbled and pink marbled varieties this year. I like that no two are alike. 

The Yellow/Orange Cosmos return every year without any care and I had one very prolific Verbena Bonariensis return as well. They look good together. The bees and butterflies really like these two.

One new annual I planted this year was a new mixed variety of Coreopsis "Incredible" from Thompson & Morgan and a perennial Centaurea.

Summer's End: Coreopsis & Centaurea

I got a great crop of chard, kale and leafing cabbage before the Harlequin Beetles discovered them, which was probably just as well as they started eating around the time these greens get tough and bitter. I pulled out the kale today, but I'm seeing regrowth on the chard and hoping for regrowth on the broccoli and cabbage. 
Harlequin at various ages

Tronchuda Cabbage with Harlequin damage

Believe it or not this chard is recovering from both burn and beetle damage.
I ate some yesterday. I think it's going to pull through these stresses. 

Thank goodness someone turned off the heat while we were on vacation. It's back in the 80's and low 90's. Looking like some rain for today too. With these changes comes preparation for the fall/winter garden.
I've decided I have more success starting seeds in 6-packs or flats and then planting them in the garden. I can't rely on the sky to water my newly planted seeds so this is just become the better way to begin. I'm starting seeds in transition. My first batch of lettuces and kale that were planted about 4 days ago have already begun germinating. I ordered more seeds from Pinetree this week. I cover the 6-packs with a perforated flat so the birds or other critters stay out. Here's what my system looks like:

Flats of fall seeds: kale, lettuces, spinach

And close up:
germinating lettuce mix

Looking forward to other garden chores: pulling out, seed collecting, soil amending, winterizing and planting. Yes, planting for winter.