Friday, November 16, 2007

Autumn Cleaning

I don't know where the idea of "Spring Cleaning" came from, but in my house and garden, I do most of my cleaning during Autumn. Clearing the chard's old leaves, composting pepper plants past their prime, and yanking out stray tomatoes are some of the many tasks for putting the garden "to bed." It makes everything look tidier, and will cut down the slime factor when that first frost hits (WARNING: forecast for November 18 in Seattle). Plus, it reminds you of the space available for spring planting.

This year I am experimenting with a crimson clover cover crop. The seeds are available in bulk from City People's Garden Store. A deal at $3.99/lb I decided to give it a try. I broadcasted the seed by hand, and had tons of little seedlings sprouting after 10 days. The seed was mainly scattered in the designated veggie plot (10x6) and another small bed (5x3). The rest of the garden is mulched with leaves from the cherry tree. I know some people like to use straw on their veggie gardens. Straw can be used in homemade compost teas since it contains beneficial amoebas. Although I like the idea of compost tea more so than synthetic fertilizer, I also want to keep my garden low maintenance as possible. I don't fertilize at all in my garden, but I don't want to deplete the soil of its beneficials. The cover crop seemed like a good means of naturally adding nitrogen to the soil.

I'm also keeping busy with the weeds. Yes, I do have a couple of those, too. Let's not dwell on those too long. I've planted my winter annuals: 'Redbor' Kale, Viola 'Penny Lane White,' Pansy 'Fama True Blue,' and Viola 'Peach Shades'. A few herbs were rescued from their containers and planted in the garden: my French tarragon and Chinese chives.

With the shorter days and longer nights, I am transitioning into an "Armchair Gardener". I'll be reflecting on the best performers from last season, dreaming of new varieties for next year, and scouring catalogues for seeds. Time for hot cocoa!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Brussels Sprouts 'Falstaff' Revisited

I just heard from my friend Jim in California who introduced me to the 'Falstaff' Brussels sprout last winter. His are stunted and buggy as well which is reassuring. There's something comforting in hearing of your fellow gardeners having the same problems. It's especially nice when they live in a place like California which seems to brag about its wonderful sunshine 24/7. He's hoping for some sustained fall weather to bring them around.

I still want a refund on my Pacific Northwest summer! So far it's been a pleasant autumn. I think someone has heard my plea.

'Falstaff' back-flipping and buggy.