Friday, October 22, 2010

The Fall Garden

My son and gardening apprentice, Andy, was home from school last weekend. So we took advantage of the cool drizzle to reinvigorate our soil and do our fall planting:

Some of these beds have been resting since the end of summer, with compost mixed in. Those we turned over and beefed up with organic steer manure.

The others still had the remnants of tomato and pepper plants in them. We removed those, dug up the soil, lined the beds with dry leaves, then layered back in topsoil and manure, moistening as we went along.

Here's what we have planted: Lettuces, rainbow chard, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, basil, Italian parsley and jicama. An artichoke plant that barely survived the hot summer seems to have rallied, so I have high hopes for it to produce by the spring.

In the center washtub, you'll see the blueberry bush I bought at the L.A. Arboretum plant sale last spring. It produced about two dozen berries and made it through the summer. It has about doubled in size, so I hope all those new canes will be loaded with berries next year:


  1. Yum! There's nothing like fresh veggies straight the garden.

  2. Sigh. I am green with envy.
    Now I know what "working the soil" means.

  3. Ooh! I've always wanted to grow blueberries! And my one artichoke plant died this summer. RIP.

  4. Ditto Desiree.

    I could print this out to know how to treat my soil. Thanks.

  5. There's actually a four-part soil "recipe" that I got from Janet Aird. It has worked absolute wonders on what was clinically dead, hard as concrete soil.

    The difficult part is digging down about 12-18 inches!
    Start with: Dead leaves spread in a thick cushion.
    Next: Replace a thin layer of soil.
    Then: A thin layer of organic (worth it) steer manure.
    Next: Soil again.
    Then: Spread some compost on top if you have it.
    On the top, cover with your remaining soil.

    Janet recommends leaving the bed rather below the surrounding ground level, so when it rains or you water, the moisture stays in the bed rather than running off.

  6. Now, I had always been told steer manure was too strong and would burn tender seedlings. Obviously that is not the case, because I've seen pictures of your results. What is a thin layer?

  7. I've always heard that too, AH, but I think it applies to not putting the manure directly on the seedlings, like as a mulch or fertilizer.

    The way I do it, the manure is a couple of layers down, so by the time the plant roots reach it, they are strong enough to absorb it plus it's been broken down a little.

    Same thing with the leaves: As they decompose, they make lots of good nutrients that are getting ready just as the mature roots reach down far enough to use them.

  8. As for how much I use, I typically spread half a bag per (roughly) 5-by-7 foot bed.

  9. I'm printing all of this. Thanks.