By Jannie Vaugh
Time for vacation, family meals and gatherings and of course the gardens are in full production. Tomatoes, Peppers and basil to name a few. The corn is tasseled and the pollen is falling on the silk it won’t be long for corn harvest. During this heat-soaked busy time it is where you will see the impact of watering and intense sun. Consistent moisture and the use of mulch is where cooling and moisture in the soil is at a critical point.
As plants grow and produce fruit to then seed, they are pulling heavily on nutrients and minerals from the soil. Using continuous composting practices and not having to depend to heavily on outside sources for fertilizers will make the garden self-sustain. When clipping those excess leaves and pulling grass and thinning is a good source of green to add to the compost. Just a little on composting here. There are many ways to make and use compost. Compost noun, decaying organic material used as a plant fertilizer. There are 3 kinds, aerobic, anaerobic and vermicomposting. I’m referring interested gardeners to a valuable web site this will direct you to the many parts of being successful in making compost and what type works best for you and your garden needs.( epa.gov sustainable-management-food/types-composting-and-understanding-process). I use a 2-to-3-layer stack with green and brown and I attempt to turn it often and have used a thermometer to check the internal heat. I am a small holding gardener and find I just keep turning till it looks like soil again. I will turn one pile onto the next one and then once it is looking finished or broken down. I do not add more I let it set a week keep it damp then use it. It should never have a bad odor, if it does turn and add drier or brown added to the pile, this can be the leaves you have piled from the fall, or fine chipped wood , Sometime when tree trimmers are working, I will ask for them to dump some chips in my property and they have even used my barrels and big buckets to fill up for me. I have never gotten it so hot it steams that is why I avoid composting weeds with heavy seeds. I just grow more weeds.
When we are preparing our garden, we work 2 seasons ahead. That includes soaker systems, for watering and timers can be used and you can leave on vacation and the garden is watered, one with backup battery’s is recommended as a power outage will stop the system. The use of no bare soil, the soil is always covered with weed barrier, chips or grass clippings is another assurance that continuous feeding and nutrition is available to your growing and producing plants. I have found the use of grass clippings on the rows will be taken into the soil by worms and microbes very fast. It just disappears! And nitrogen hungry plants such as corn will use this very fast.
It is summer and all our previous planning is now under way. I am collecting seeds from lettuce I planted last fall, second year of carrot seeds are under way and mustard and Kale I let go to seed are just about ready to be cut and dried for winnowing. I have a second planting of okra and when the lettuce came out the soil was worked and fed and the sweet potato slips which were growing more roots in a jar of water are now planted where the lettuce was. I have given the spearmint a good hair cut from the old bathtub that is specific for mint and is a wicking bed. It is now drying inside on a table. and the peaches are ready for canning this week. Yes, it is summer and the work is peaking everyday as I walk outside. For the past 4 years I have been involved is Habitat restoration for threatened native critters. This year has been very successful in the restoration of Firefly habitat. The three layers of native grass, Buffalo gourds and then sunflowers have been Amazing they are abundant and I have stopped mowing so they can restore their population. I mow 6-inch-tall paths through the front and back areas so I can walk safely. They will have company as the butterfly’s and night moths are in their cycles also. There are Texas State support groups that help in habitat restoration for threatened Pollinators and Firefly’s. www.firefly.org.
The busy time is here also the time of swimming and picnicking and family gatherings. And I am already thinking about Fall.
Growing Green With Jannie