Saturday, September 7, 2013
Plowing For a Winter Garden, and Getting Ready Now for Spring Planting
We are going to raise a garden again. The deer and grasshoppers ate everything I planted this year, but we are going to fence out the deer and the Farmer's Almanac says it is going to be a cold, wet winter - so goodbye grasshoppers (please Lord?)!
Daddy came this past weekend and plowed the garden spot for us. I was impressed with his tractor skill - he can line that tractor up on a dime. He met right up with the stakes I had put out to define the space. He said "after it rains, whenever that is, I'll come back and plow it again and that will kill a lot of the grass and weeds". And look, we had lovely rain the same weekend - just like washing the car except a GOOD rain-bringer. So I said "Thank you for the rain" to both my heavenly and earthly fathers! You can see in the pictures the difference in the color of the dirt while he was plowing, and after the rain!
We have decided to use plastic mesh as fencing. Our primary goal is to keep the deer out and this product has really good reviews for such an inexpensive solution. It provides a visible barrier to animals and directs them to find another way to go. Eventually, the deer should forget there is food here. We can use steel u-channel posts that will stay permanently in the ground, and simply replace the plastic every few years.
This space was kept in production for many years by the folks who owned it during the 70s, 80s and 90s. The soil, we hear, is fertile. It has a good loamy feel to it. The big rocks in it are nodules of flint, which the Comanche and other tribes used to make their arrowheads out of. I need to do some research, because there is a great lot of this that I think would surely have been removed over time, unless new nodules keep working themselves to the surface. You can see several of them in the photo below
In Texas, we can grow things all year round. I will plant turnips, beets, chard, onions, garlic, and collards for winter growing. The freezes won't hurt them and the extra moisture will be a boon. Swiss Chard, Collards, Onions and Garlic will keep growing year round - they behave as either perennials or biennials. Turnips are wonderful - use them like potatoes in stews or serve mashed and creamed. Turnip seed is cheap, and these root crops are easy to grow. They are good practice for amateurs.
Then, come February, I can start planting for early spring: peas, greens & lettuce, onion plants. We must use "short day" onions here because whether onions make bulbs depends on the number of daylight hours they are exposed to. That is why those record sized veggies come from Alaska, the 24 hour days keep plants growing without stopping to "sleep" at night. In the South, our days are shorter. The longer growing season gives us a longer harvest and perhaps more production but does not give us larger individual produce.
Miss Fuzzy Slippers, of the blog Fuzzy Logic (linked from my sidebar), has a great article about the importance of learning to garden before we need to feed ourselves. For most of us, this is indeed a learned skill, not an innate talent, and we need to begin practicing now to accumulate the wisdom necessary for good harvests in our particular space. Be sure to read the comments too, there are lots of practical tips in them.
Are you gardening this year? If you don't have a space in your yard, see if your town has a Community Garden. The nearest large town to us has very reasonable fees ($35 for the year) that include water and compost. It is a great deal, especially when you consider that using a community garden plot, like the British "allotments", also gives you direct contact with experienced gardeners who can help and advise you as you learn. Contact them now just in case they have a waiting list.
Gardening is good for the body and the soul. There is just nothing quite like knowing you are working with God and His creation to make your own food, just like human beings have done since the very beginning.
Happy harvesting and good eating await!