Sunday, October 24, 2010

sept 25 2010 - baby Ben makes a visit

September 25, 2010 started bright, clear, and unseasonably warm—a giddy resumption of summer. If it wasn’t for unavoidable reminders of the actual season, like the bed of dead cucumber plants, you could almost imagine that summer was not yet over.

The vegetable plants even seemed fooled: carrots pushed up out of their bed, chard glimmered in the sunlight, and a line of radish seedlings wandered across the soil. 

Doug and Debbie surprised us by bringing their newborn son to the garden. Many of us downed tools and gathered round to greet little Ben.

While some of us dandled, others speculated as to what Doug read to Ben while he was still in utero: A Sand County Almanac? Doug’s PhD thesis?

Eventually, we returned to harvesting and packing: Ben was too young to notice Dave’s beard, so there was not going to be any the hair-grabbing entertainment. (There will be plenty of time for that later.)

Doug then brought out his other garden delivery: a large bag of mixed seed for our green manure cover crop. A couple of weeks previously, Doug had measured the area of the raised beds to determine the amount of seed to purchase.

At a point towards the end of each growing season, we usually have to decide when to stop harvesting crops and pull plants from the beds so that we can start the winter cover crop. It is a question of timing for us: the longer we wait, the greater our harvest yield; however, if we wait too late, until after the City turns off our water connection, we may not have enough time to establish our cover crop before winter comes. Although the crops resume growth as soon as the snows clear in the early spring, we still need to give them sufficient time to amend the soil.

Our timing quandary applies this year to all beds but the dodecahedron—the bed in the back of the garden where we tried to grow beets and green beans this year. As mentioned previously, because of numerous crop failures in that bed this season, we decided to start resting and amending it early. A few weeks previously, we cultivated the bed with our garden fork and applied various amendments, including kelp meal. Although we can’t vouch for whether the kelp meal actually had the “mystical powers” that its container purported, we do hope that it will add minerals and other nutrient to the depleted soil of the dodecahedron bed.

While I made the delivery, other volunteers pulled up the cucumber bed and sowed much of the cover crop seed. We will continue to sow the cover crop as we pull up the plants in the other beds, protecting the seeds from pigeons using row cover.