Saturday, September 7, 2013

Planting the Fall Garden in North Texas - September 2013

We planted most of our fall garden on September 6, 2013.  It is still hotter than Hades (99+) in the afternoon here in North Texas.  We still have at least a week to go before things start cooling down and it starts feeling like fall.

The seeds we selected to plant are spinach, beans, sugar snap peas and beets.

We also bought 18 broccoli plant starts and 9 cauliflower starts.  It has been our experience that cauliflower is not as prolific or healthy as broccoli so we choose not to dedicate as much space to growing them in the garden.

The next step in setting out a fall garden is to add compost to the beds.  The compost adds nutrients to the garden soil that has been taken up by the spring/summer crops.  I think of it as the plants have been "mining" the nutrients and therefore the soil needs additional nourishment.  I plan to do a blog post on composting alone so I won't go into the details here about how to make compost.  Below is a picture of the 3 bin composter that my husband built.  It works very well - I put all my kitchen and garden waste in it.

Here is a close up shot of one of the bins after we took compost out to add to the raised garden beds.

This garden bed has been freshly weeded and compost was added.

Working in the compost.

This is a picture of zucchini and squash that were planted in July by seed.  They have grown a lot and will start producing fruit very soon.  See the wild and ratty looking tomatoes behind them to the right and the wild asparagus that needs a haircut on top of the planter.

Supplementing the drip watering system.

Planting the broccoli starts.  I recommend planting them at least 18" apart.  They plants get pretty large and you want them to not shadow each other.  They need full sun.

The finished broccoli bed.

Watering them in.  Here is an important tip about watering.  New starts and seeds should watered in this heat at least twice a day (we also have a drip watering system that goes on at least 15 minutes twice per day).  However, when it starts cooling off, we suggest stopping the supplemental watering, because that can encourage fungal diseases to thrive.

The cauliflower starts have also been planted.

Here are the seeds being planted.  In this case he is planting sugar snap peas.  Bush beans and sugar snap peas are planted 8 - 10" apart.

Spinach is planted in a little ditch and lightly covered with soil.  After they start sprouting, we thin them out to at least every 6" apart.

The banana and bell peppers are going full blast right now.

 You can see how large the tomato plants got this season.  They are definitely looking more ratty in the heat and are not producing much.  We decided not to pull them up (mostly because we were unable to purchase new tomato plants in July).  We pruned them some and we are noticing that they are putting on more flowers.  There are also some tomatoes although they are very small in the heat.  There are plenty of bees for pollination, so hopefully they will give us a good fall crop.

See my asparagus plants on the top of the planter.  They definitely need a serious haircut.

The okra is still producing - it loves hot weather!  Unfortunately it never gets picked in time before it gets too big and tough!

The eggplant have been stunted by the heat and the color is off (yellowed).  These fruit are too tough to eat at this point but I don't have the heart to pull them up.  I'm hoping that when the temperatures come down, the fruit will be fit to eat again.

We have a few cantaloupe still producing.

Our poor chickens do not do well in the summer heat.  We let them run outside of their chicken tractor and take refuge in the shrubs to cool down.  See the picture of our matriarch hen - Joanie (as in Joan Jett) is below.  She is a beautiful Austrolorps.  She has been molting in the heat and her feathers are not in their full glory now.  We lost our Rhode Island Red (Rosie the second) this summer to the heat unfortunately.

Below is a picture of our Americanus.  This hen is a wonderful egg producer, her breed is known for laying Easter egg colored eggs, however our particular hen lays eggs that are a pearl beige.  We like her because she is a good egg producer, however, her personality is lacking.  She is very hateful to our younger hens and will peck them constantly if not watched.

This is a picture of Joanie with our youngest hens.  The white hen is a Delaware.  I'm not sure what the beige hen is.

I thought I would go ahead and post some pics of our fall fruit crop below -

Fig Tree (I think it is the "Celeste" variety)

Although the fruit is small it is very sweet.  My husband saw some figs for sale in Brookshires Grocery and they were asking $19.99 per lb.!

This is a picture of my Jujube tree.  This is the first year it has really produced fruit.  It is about 6 feet tall now.

The fruit is somewhat similar to the texture of an apple, though it is not as crisp and juicy.

This is a picture of our first harvest - I'll be making a jujube pie tonight using an apple pie recipe.   I found a link to a blog that also tried a pie and said it wasn't bad.

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