September 12, 2014
Today the summer heat of Texas broke. It isn’t 102F anymore. It’s 65F. Of course we’ll see more warm, perhaps hot days but we’re within striking distance of fall, my favorite season.
This isn’t intended to be a weather report but the strikingly cool weather of today caused me to reflect about the summer garden I had this year. I resumed gardening after several years. My Primal birth in March rekindled a love of touching the earth with my hands, planting the seeds of life, tending the plants and reaping a bountiful harvest of fresh, organic and thoroughly nutritious vegetables.
I have a busy schedule so I did not try to garden more than I could comfortably manage. I eased back into it this year. I raised only four vegetables but each produced more yield than any garden I ever have had. I planted lettuce, tomatoes, yellow squash and okra.
My timing of the lettuce and tomatoes was off a bit or I could have had homegrown salads. As it was, the outermost leaves of the lettuce heads were picked and eaten while the center head developed. When full, the heads were cut, eaten and shared. From a 4 x 8 garden bed, there was a meal’s worth of lettuce harvested every other day from April through May.
Then came the tomatoes. They went crazy. I ate tomatoes every day. Gave away tomatoes. Blanched and froze tomatoes. The fresh ones came to an end about a month ago but frozen ones abound for the winter.
Squash did OK. Several meals of squash, sauteed in coconut oil, were produced, but not crazily so, not like the tomatoes before it or the okra that followed on its heels.
The okra. Never, ever, have I seen such a bumper crop of okra. I thought the tomatoes were out of hand. Okra has been sauteed, fried, boiled, frozen and given away and it, also, wouldn’t quit.
The okra likes hot weather and there’s been plenty of that. Now that the cooler air has come in and will remain a while, I will get a breather as the okra will come to its productive end soon.
It’s all been good. Almost too good.
Pests were not an issue this year. I prepared my soil well by removing all grasses and covering the newly turned soil with black plastic to heat the soil in March. Then, I turned in some well composted chicken yard fertilizer into the soil and covered it again for a week before each planting.
I avoided, for the most part, watering with fluoridated municipal water. I placed a 100 gallon stock watering trough beneath the roof’s overhang, caught rainwater and watered my plants with a bucket. On a few unfortunate occasions when summer’s rainfall was scarce, I had to resort to municipal water but I followed some urban homesteading advice and did so with a soaker hose that encircled the plants on both sides, about a foot from the rootzone. This, hopefully, used the soil’s filtering capacity to mitigate the impact of the fluoride. I cringed a little every time I had to do this.
Texas is fortunate in that something can be grown in a garden year round. I’m thinking some late fall and winter greens would be a good thing.
I’ve been dumping my grass clippings all summer into whichever beds the crops were finished in. I don’t use any kind of artificial fertilizers or pesticides on my lawn so I felt good about putting the clippings down as mulch.
I’ll rake out some of the top layers of that mulch and anything that I see that has composted, I’ll turn it into the soil, add a little more chicken yard fertilizer and cover the soil until I’m ready to plant some mustard and turnips in late October.
I just remembered how I used to plant garlic in November. I should set aside a little space to do that again.
I cannot garden while wearing gloves. I have to have my bare hands in the dirt. This year I did something new. I also gardened barefooted. That was a lot of fun.
Whatever the scientific explanation of grounding might be, I enjoyed four body contact points of grounding during my summer of gardening. I’m looking forward to trying the same thing in the cool of the coming winter.