Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Garden Update 11/9: November Roses

The time just switched over this Sunday, so the already short days are starting to feel even shorter (it would probably help if I got up early enough to catch the new morning sunlight.) Fortunately, the weather is cooperating: we've had enough rain that I don't have to turn on the drip system, but enough sun and warmth that the plants are settling in nicely. We even managed to produce a rare November rose!

Continue reading for more news on the vegetable front!

Only one bed is active at this point, and holds six cauliflowers, six escaroles, and ten leeks. The cauliflower and escarole have both rooted in well and are just beginning to produce tender inner leaves, and therefore attract hungry cabbage moths. The leeks are drying out at their tops, which may be normal or may be bad. We'll see.

The two main beds and the small beds between the roses are filled in with my newest experiment: cover crops. At Alemany Farm, the urban farm where I'm taking a year-long intensive horticultural class, the crew plants non-vegetable crops in most of the beds over the winter. Colder, wetter days mean worse conditions for food crops and a steep drop in the number of volunteers to weed and care for whatever does get planted, so the farm plants in a cover crop to hold the bed over until the next year. Nitrogen-fixing legumes, like vetch or field peas, go in to add fertility to the soil and grain crops, like winter rye or barley, go in the mix to break up the soil with their fibrous roots and provide support for the climbing legumes.

The last few years at Schaefer Manor Farm, as I call it when I'm feeling grand, I've "planted" a cover crop of seasonal weeds that uses the wet winter to get deeply rooted into every area of the garden. So this year I took a cue from Alemany and planted rye and vetch from Seeds of Change. In the spring, before the crops mature and set seed, I should be able to dig in the roots to add fertility and tilth to the soil and add the tops to a compost pile.

That's it from the garden this week. Cheers!


Rebecca said...

Great garden! It's amazing what can be done in even a reasonably small space--we're already planning for next year, too! Thanks for the post, keep up the good work.
PS I live in Denver, and the Fernet and Coke thing is strictly Argentinean, no one here drinks Fernet. So post away on the awesome tradition you SF'rs have, you are so lucky that Fernet practically flows in the streets!