The heat here is so hard on the garden. I found that the ideal growing season here really ends in July. Sure, the garden limps along, but come August, the heat weakens the plants and really opens them up for disease and pests.
So today is the day I cleaned house. Over the next few mornings, I'm going to clean and prep my garden for fall. The temperature doesn't dip below freezing here until at least December, which means I have a growing season that is at least 10 months long. If I build a greenhouse, I can grow all year.
The first thing I had to do was the hardest. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally hard. I had to rip it all out. The tomatoes were dead. It broke my heart to let them go, but they weren't giving me anything anymore, and had only small patches of green left. Several of my bush beans were all sticks with a few leaves on top, and the pole beans were done. I managed to push the pole beans all summer. They produced so much! The pole beans, however, had become infested with ants, and that made taking them down a bit of a challenge. Cut, swat, cut, swat, cut, do a little dance to get them off my feet... you see what I mean. Then this little orange lizard jumped out, but it looked like a snake, and it moved like a snake! I just about turned and ran until I realized it was actually running on tiny little feet, so I shooed it. That got my heart pumping a little...ha ha.
So after about 40 minutes of cutting and bagging, I ended up with a former garden, that now looks like this:
Yeah, I know.
I still have a lot of work to do, but I can't stay out past about 9:30 a.m. or it is just too hot. Today it was 95 by the time I came in. So I'll do a little every morning, and hopefully after my trip to Oklahoma next week, I'll build some planters and see what we can do about starting a fall garden.
It was a little depressing at the end of the summer... everything was dying and my beautiful tomato forest just withered and died. Although I'm sad, I'm trying to look at it like this: I pulled 50 POUNDS of produce from this little urban side yard. 50 POUNDS!!! That's huge. Had my zucchini, squash and cucumbers been successful, which they were NOT AT ALL, I easily could have doubled that number. I need to do some research to figure out how to succeed with those items next year.
I do have a few items still growing. I did manage to stagger plant some bush beans, and the small bell peppers are still producing, so I left them alone. I moved everything to the front of the space, so that I can water quickly and efficiently through this heat. This will also make it easier for The Guy to take care of these stragglers while I'm away next week.
Here's a look at what's left:
The strawberries are sending out runners, so I'm going to spend some time rooting them into bowls. They can move over to the potting bench for the "winter". By next summer these should be big producers. This summer they were just ho-hum.
These are the bush bean plants that I have left. There are about half dozen left that are still producing. They are the ones I planted mid-season. I have some even younger ones on the potting bench. I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do with these bushes this fall. I may just keep them where they are. They seem to like it there.
The pepper plants are not loving the heat, either, but the yummy snacking peppers are still producing a lot! They are coming in much slower than they were last month, but besides the nearly ripe peppers, there are lots of little baby buds there.
I'm just going to let them do their thing for as long as they can.
Last, but certainly not least - - I have two tomato plants left. I know, I know... with all my whining about losing my tomatoes, this surprises you. Earlier in the summer, I had two plants that weren't thriving. Same soil, same fertilizer, same amounts of water, and they just limped along, not growing or producing anything. So I re-potted them and moved them to the other side yard, next to the potting bench. They did pretty well, and when the spider mite infestation took hold, they were spared. The yellow heirloom tomato is doing really well. It gave me some beautiful tennis ball sized yellow tomatoes this weekend that were delish drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The beefsteak is not doing as well, but it's still giving me tomatoes here and there, and it's not infested with anything, so I'm just letting it limp along, and hopefully when the weather cools it will come back to life. I guess we'll see.
So that's what's left for now... We have lots of time for new beginnings... now I'm going to go shower because EEK! I'm still finding ants on me and it's been an hour since I left the garden. Gross.
Green thumb out.