As our late father was fond of saying to my brother and me as any event or season neared its end, “Well, boys, it’s all over but the shoutin’.” And that certainly applies for planting in the unprotected garden.
While we know it’s been hotter than blue blazes and drier than the desert for the past couple of weeks, tradition tells us that those conditions won’t last. And the heat hasn’t been good anyway for gardens, unless you’ve been watering regularly.
This dry spell makes me glad I chose built-up beds this year since they’re easier to keep watered, among other advantages.
I noticed places in the garden plot I used last year where the ground is cracked open because it’s so dry and hard. Also, I’ve been trying to set some mole traps and the ground is so hard I can’t push them down far enough into the runs to spear the little devils. Maybe that’s why the instructions suggest watering the yard first.
But I digress.
Facts are: It’s hot, it’s dry, and unless you plan to employ cold frames or the low tunnels Wes Henry wrote about last week, then enjoy the fruits of your efforts on the table, give some of the surplus to your hungry neighbors, can and freeze the rest.
As Pop said, until we start our 2020 gardens in a few months, for the unprotected garden “it’s all over but the shoutin’!”
Here’s what you can still plant and have some statistical hope of these veggies making it to the table before frost and freezing weather set in.
Leaf lettuce, collards, and radishes, according to Home Gardening in Kentucky, are still on the list. And the lettuce and collards slip off this week while radishes stick around until Sept. 15.
Before we move on to review the week in more detail, let me put in another plug for planting in low tunnels or cold frames. You truly can extend the gardening season for a long, long time.
Now you probably won’t be able to go out and pick a ripe tomato to enhance your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner – in fact if you can please let me know – but you can have fresh lettuce, kale, broccoli and other veggies that enjoy shorter days and cooler conditions. Sure, they’re being protected but that protection doesn’t extend to a hard freeze.
Unless you’re just ready to pack it up for this year, why lot try a few of these cool-season crops?
For those of you with larger in-ground plots, if you don’t already you might want to consider a cover crop to plant in the fall. In a couple of weeks, we’ll go into all the options for the dormant garden over winter – and this is arguably the best.
After removing the spent veggies, cover crops grow over the winter and then return nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil when plowed under in the spring. Turnips are popular for cover crops – and both the greens and the tubers can be eaten!
Removing the veggies that have done the job for you over the summer, lightly roto-tilling or disking the garden to break up the soil, then sowing seeds is about as good a you can do as you tuck your garden in for the winter.
The rest of August
The last days of the month and flipping the page into September – hard to believe it’s almost fall - provide us a tour of all types of signs. And until the Aug. 30, the dark moon is in force for below-ground producers.
We find the bean sign, Gemini, ruling today, but it’s too late for beans and the dark moon is in force, too. Fertile signs rule Sunday and Monday, Taurus, and return Sept. 2-3, Scorpio. The first two are with the dark moon ruling for below-ground producers and the September ones for above-ground producers in your plots you plan to protect.
The killing sign Leo rules Tuesday and Wednesday then it’s flowering signs – two each of Virgo and Libra - Aug. 29 thru Sept. 1 with a moon change on the Sept. 30. The so-so signs are up for Sept. 4-11, all with the light moon in force.
This upcoming stretch has a little or a lot ruled by every kind of sign – bean, fertile, killing, flowering and so-so.