Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bedraggled October Garden

My vegetable garden this year grew in half a dozen pots on my patio. At left is all that is left of the green promise of late July (see photo below) -- frostbitten a few weeks back, though I covered everything, and thoroughly waterlogged from the steady fall rains that have brought us back from drought. I have a few small green tomatoes struggling to soak up enough sun to ripen, and since there is no frost forecast for the next week, perhaps some of them will make it. But one day soon it will be time to pull out the plants, consign them to the compost pile, empty the pots, and put them away in the garage until next spring.

Lessons learned this summer:
  • The bigger the pot, the better. My patio gets good sun, and though I watered almost every day, the plants in the smaller pots were clearly stressed by the heat.
  • Fill the pot with more soil than you think you need. Particularly where I had my cucumbers growing, the soil settled after a few waterings and rainfalls, in the end leaving the pots only about 3/4 full. The extra soil would have held more moisture and stayed a bit cooler.
  • Combining soils worked pretty well. I combined potting soil, topsoil and manure, trying to achieve a balance that wouldn't be too heavy, would hold moisture well, and would feed the plants. I did very little additional fertilizing, relying only on a few infusions of wastewater from my son's fish tank. My plants' production was on the low to moderate side, I'd say. The cucumbers and the tomatoes I had in a large pot did pretty well; tomatoes in smaller pots did not produce well.
Gardening is appealing in part because of its cyclical nature, especially here where we have such a curtailed growing season. You put your garden to bed in the late fall and start dreaming about next year. In just a few weeks, the first seed catalogs will start to arrive. I'm looking forward to that.

No comments: