Last summer (2009) my father built a container garden for me, which was so sweet and wonderful and I loved it so much and had such high hopes for it — and then things really didn’t grow well in it. Boo. Things grew better in big plastic containers where there was a bottom to the container and the dirt went down much deeper. I figured that the problem was A) not enough dirt and B) dirt sitting on hard/hot cement surface, making the little dirt that there was too hot.
So, this past summer (2010), I asked my dad to put bottoms on the boxes he had built for me, which he willingly did. He also put the boxes up on cement blocks so that they were not sitting directly on the concrete. I thought that would work a little better this summer. Sadly, it didn’t make as much difference as I had hoped except that…
My neighbor shared the garden with me (one or the other of us was almost always out of town this past summer, so we said that we had “joint custody” of the garden. 😉 We each took over watering the garden while the other was out of town.) She tried to plant zucchini and tomatoes and peppers on her half of the garden, and they didn’t really grow. On my half of the garden, I tried to plant tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, onions, and beets (the beets I bought at the Farmer’s Market, already started in small containers). The lettuce came up, and then did nothing all summer except that in the last month it has started to grow again. Same with the radishes, although I picked them today and they were still pretty small. The onions never even came up. And the beets? Ah, I was looking forward to them the most. But sadly, the beets did not grow hardly at all. Somehow, I missed that each of the six containers in the six-pack of beets I bought, were numerous beet plants. I planted each of the six containers together, so when I pulled them up today, I found all of these little clumps of beets, none of which every really grew. Alas.
(Of course, it also didn’t help that one evening this summer, Lyd left the gate open to the garden (there’s a 6.5 foot high fence around the garden area) and the deer got in and ate a whole bunch of stuff. I was not happy with her, although the tomatoes recovered quite nicely. I was surprised.)
About two or three weeks ago, I bought two sunflower plants at the Farmer’s Market for the girls. I planted them in one of the bins where the dirt is pretty deep, so that they could grow as tall as they needed to. However, some darn squirrel jumped in an snapped both sunflower heads off the plant. Grr. I found the heads outside my garden lying on the dirt. Nasty squirrels.
Last year I was really lazy and never took the dried out plants out of my garden. To my great surprise, my laziness plaid off, and a few things kept on growing, or re-planting themselves and grew again, over the winter. A broccoli plant survived. A few onions survived. And two of my ten or so pea plants that did nothing all year stayed alive over the winter, had lots of blooms on them come spring, and gave me a handful of really sweet peas last March.
We’ve also been having Indian Summer days here. The calendar turned to Autumn last week, and boom, we got hit with a heat wave in Northern CA. Everyone’s saying, “Whoa! What’s with all the heat?” but this is my tenth fall here, and I Now Know Better. We always get a heat wave in fall. It’s our summertime. Frankly, I rely on that. I need some heat and sun! I’m freezing all the time! And this was SUCH a cool summer. It even broke a few records for being a cool summer. Yuk.
(Both of my daughters were born during these Indian Summer days. I vividly remember when they were brought home from the hospital how warm it was for their first days at home. When Lyd had breastmilk jaundice, I just laid her in a sunny part of our living room where the sun shone directly in. So convenient!)
SOOO, I decided today to try to replant the garden. I don’t know if anything will really grow or not, but what the heck, let’s give it a try. Hopefully a little less sun during the day will mean that the dirt won’t get quite so hot on the plants, while the warm weather will mean that they still get plenty of sun. I replanted the seeds that I had: beets, carrots, onions, radishes, lettuce — and I planted a few peas. There’s nothing special about that, except for the fact that the peas were from a big bag of English peas I bought at the Farmer’s Market about a week ago. They’d been sitting in my fridge for all this time, and when I finally got around to shelling them today, I noticed that in two of the pods, each pea was starting to sprout a leaf. I have no idea if these peas will actually grow into anything or not, but what the heck! I’m giving it a try.
So, my autumn garden is planted. Now we wait and see what happens.