Monday, July 14, 2014

Planning for Autumn

Although the days are still warm and even heating up over the next week, it is never too early to start thinking about Fall planting. There are many print and online guidelines for late season planting; the above is an example from the Old Farmer's Almanac.

Personally, I still have Fall sowings of carrots, chard, lettuce, peas, and even fava beans ahead of me. Autumn will also be the time for harvesting very long-season crops like winter squash.

What do YOU plan to plant now, for the Fall?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summer in the garden: a photo update

There are so few days of Summer here in Madison, Wisconsin, that I think we really ought to go the extra mile to enjoy every single one. In that spirit, I make a point of actually walking the (4) extra mile(s) from my apartment in east Madison to EHCG as frequently as I can. One of the bright spots of this trip is the Howard Temin Lakeshore path, with gorgeous views of the Mendota Lake.
Boats on the lake in July. 

More boats.
When I arrive at the garden, there are always wonderful surprises waiting for me.

Even a community gardener can grow fruit in Wisconsin, if the fruits are appropriate varieties for the growing season, like strawberries and ground cherries (perennial and annual, respectively).

Strawberries harvested in late June.
Ground cherries, not yet ripe.
Cabbages planted in the Spring have grown large - the cabbage below yielded several cups of cole slaw on the 4th of July.
Red cabbage, grown from a Garden to Be cabbage start.
Fava beans have grown large and buttery through cool Spring days and the warmth of the early Summer sun.
Fava beans, a late Spring treat in Wisconsin.
Peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants, and more are beginning to put out flowers, signaling the advent of the height of Summer produce.
Poblano pepper.
Squashes burst into expansive green foliage, hiding young yellow blossoms.
Pattypan squash.
Forrest of carrot tops. 
The plot as a whole - a little messy but full of life.
The life cycle of the garden demands a lot of energy and time from the gardener between April and June, but from July to September, Mother Nature does most of the work. Over June and July, I have spent my time in the garden weeding, although the new weed germination is greatly slowed, and harvesting. The use of leaf cover as mulch (see above) reduces the need to water and to weed, letting me spend more of my time in the garden enjoying the view.

Be sure to make some time this Summer to really enjoy the sunshine and blue skies abundant at this time, yet so fleeting. It can be difficult to find time for relaxation and reflection while balancing our over-committed schedules, so we ought to treasure the time we do have to put on old jeans, strap on gardening shoes, and hit the soil.
The arbor, covered in grapevines.
Happy gardening.