Every year it amazes me that this… (source)
… Grows into this
The temperature dropped about 30 degrees last week so I was able to finish planting without too much anxiety about tiny sprouts perishing in the heat. It will get hotter again, we can expect a few more bursts of summer before the end of November. But the days of highs around 110 and lows around 95 are thankfully over for now.
The garden is ready, now I just have to be patient.
clockwise from upper right: large bean seedlings and tiny beet sprouts, just-seeded carrots and spinach, basil leftover from February planting, oregano and rosemary. Dogs love veggies!
The beets and beans have already germinated, and there are hundreds of little sprouts. The lettuce is taking its time, and the carrots and spinach just went into the ground so they probably won’t pop up for a few weeks.
I’ve had varying success over the last six years of vegetable gardening. Some years my tomatoes died by June, other years they survived the summer and kept producing right through until Christmas. I planted the same carrot seeds three years in a row with no results whatsoever, but on the fourth year they sprouted and we had carrots bursting out of the ground for months. Even with a degree in Plant Biology, the actual cultivation of plants remains a mystery to me.
My favorite vegetable gardening guide is called “Extreme Gardening – How to Grow Organic in the Hostile Deserts” by Dave Owens.
The title might seem like an exaggeration, but anyone who’s ever tried to keep a plant alive in this environment knows that “hostile” is an accurate description.
The book is written in layman’s terms and organized in the order that the everyday home gardener will understand, not by plant family or genus, but by food group: vegetables, fruit, herbs, etc.
The best part of the book for me is it takes each vegetable separately and breaks down the details of which varieties to plant, what soil temperatures must be reached, the water requirements, the feeding schedule, and so much more. It helps me get the right seeds in the right locations at the right time of year, and that’s all I can ask.
A couple of random facts from the book:
• Beans like warmer temperatures and peas like it cool. It’s good to soak peas overnight before planting, but you can’t soak beans (they’ll rot).
• Beets, potatoes, and radishes can grow in 100% compost. But don’t put carrots in compost; they will get hairy!
And then there are the funny tidbits of wisdom that you would never even think to ask. For example, did you know that cabbage loves carrots and radishes love lettuce, but potatoes do not like sunflowers and peppers can’t stand onions? It sounds silly, but you need to know that if you want your plants to grow.
So now it is time to sit back and wait. Here’s hoping for a mild winter with lots of rain!