Scaling Back

I have deciding to scale back my normal fall garden plantings this year at HA. The heat wave and drought of 2012 have truly worn me out. My wife and I have been struggling to keep plants alive for several months now, and the thought of nursing lots of little baby plants for a couple of more months is just too much to think about.

I will skip planting my usual broccoli, cabbage, radicchio, collards, and many of the Asian greens. I will plant kale, kohlrabi, and turnips. I should be able to grow beets and radishes later on too. I will try and grow lettuce when the temperatures moderate. I gave up on growing summer lettuce at all this year. And I can start spinach later in fall, when surely we will have some autumnal weather. I should also be able to grow Asian greens in the cold frames this winter.

chard after deer ate it (click on any image to enlarge)

The deer have also added to our frustrations. Since they continue to reproduce, and move into our more urban areas, their pressure gets worse every year. The drought has been hard on them as well. They have eaten more things than usual this year, and will readily eat anything that is not well protected. This week they mowed down a small planting of chard, and even ate some young okra plants I was growing for seed collection. They have eaten the cucumber vines to the point that they just can’t make cucumbers. Last year we were giving them away, but not this year.

deer are loving the cucumber vines

To deal with the drought, I am trying to grow larger seedlings, potting them up in larger containers so it will be easier and quicker to get the plants established once I set them into the ground. Of course they will have to be mulched, protected, caged, and manned with armed guards 24/7 to keep all the hungry hordes away from them. I hope I am up to the task! Being an animal lover and a gardener often calls for difficult choices.

large Beedy's Camden kale seedlings

I also have a new (to us) green to try growing this summer. It is called Huauzontle, or Red Aztec Spinach. I got the seed from fellow MG Ruth, who has been growing it for several years now. It is a close relative of Lamb’s Quarter, so it will need to be protected from the deer and rabbits since both are fond of that wild green. Both the young leaves and the flower stalks are edible. And it loves the heat and dry conditions, so it should be a happy camper right now!

Huauzontle seedlings

We are planning on growing broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, turnips, beets and kohlrabi at the Impact Community Garden this fall. They have a crew on watering duty that can hopefully keep things going there. And they don’t have critter problems like we do here, so that will make it a bit easier.

We are blessed with two freezers that are nearly full of food, and a cellar with potatoes, winter squash, garlic and onions, so cutting back on the fall garden will still leave us with lots of homegrown goodies. And when the rains finally come again, and temperatures cool, I’ll be ready to garden accordingly.

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6 Responses to Scaling Back

  1. Daphne says:

    It has been a very hard year. For me in the past I’ve never had wilt. Maybe in early September it would show up which wasn’t a problem. But this year, I’m losing things fast. I’m really hoping to get melons before the wilt kills them all, but it is a race.

  2. Jenny says:

    This has been a hard year for most people – very hot and dry and eventhough I’ve been watering daily I have several tomato plants with BER, my melons are not doing well and carrots are drying out. I started seedlings but I think I’ll keep them inside until mid-August at least to keep them from dying. And the prolifiration of bugs is really not helping this year.

  3. kitsapFG says:

    Sounds like you are making sensible choices given your energy and the current challenging growing environment. I have no doubt the later plantings combined with your supply of summer produce put by – will keep you all well fed. Where you are battling heat, we are just hoping to get warmed up and stay there for a few weeks so the tomatoes and other warm weather crops can get a move on it. Always a race for us to try and get some ripe tomatoes in before the cold fall rains arrive.

  4. Julie says:

    I just found your site, and I’m so glad I did! I’m eager to try your pickled garlic recipe–we use a LOT of garlic here, although my harvest this year wasn’t as robust as it normally is. I agree with you about scaling back–usually, I plant a very large fall garden, but this year, I think I’m going to focus only on the veggies that we love. Who knows, though–I may change my mind at the first cool breeze that blows through SC! 😉 Look forward to visiting often! Cheers! (And stay cool!)

  5. I hear you on the critter lover vs. gardener internal dilemma 🙂 Even though you’re going to scale back at home, it seems like you’ll still be growing plenty at the community garden…

  6. Mary N. says:

    I know how you feel. Some days it’s tempting to give up. A 6-8′ fence is essential in deer territory. We were well into drought when the rains arrived 2 weeks ago. Late blight came with the rain, traveling right up the coast in the clouds. Be careful what you wish for…

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