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Getting ready for fall planting

Is it hot enough for you lately? It is still too hot for fall/winter plants just yet. We are supposed to be getting extreme high pressure, which could create extra-hot temperatures this week and next.

I have a neighbor who heard that we will have hot weather on and off until late October. I hope not, but we have to live with weather like that which can make our plants, especially delicate garden plants, suffer too much.

I am hoping the second week of October will be a good time for planting. In the meantime you can get everything ready for that auspicious occasion.

If you have a summer garden already in, you could be harvesting quite a bit right now. Continue enjoying the fruits of your labor; just water enough to keep it all humming along. The days are getting shorter at the rate of one minute per day – pretty fast.

You can prepare for fall planting now, so when the weather really breaks you can just jump on it and plant. A summer garden will have crops burn out. Remove them, stir the soil and add some compost and a good organic fertilizer like a citrus/avocado food.

Find baled compost (three cubic feet) with mycorrhiza, which will stimulate your next crops beautifully. Spread this on the soil as if you were salting food. Cultivate in this mixture and get ready to fill in an open area with new cool weather vegetables.

The local nurseries and farm supply centers have plants starting to arrive, even though I think now they will still suffer too much. Wait a pinch longer and you will get bigger, better and more production.

If you don’t have a summer garden in production, now is the time to clear an area and remove the weeds, watching out for Bermuda grass (it can be a real pain). Once you have an area cleared, either rototill it or with a shovel and spading fork loosen the soil 18 inches and break it up to crumbles. Then add the above compost and fertilizer only on new soil; double the amount so you really cover the growing area with it.

Always have a drip water system on any garden bed, as crops can’t survive without water, but hoses are inefficient and waste water, so drip is the best. All irrigation companies can explain how to put a system together, and the parts are relatively inexpensive.

A garden article in the Village News on July 30 (found online at http://www.thevillagenews.com/story/39596) is titled “Water wise vegetable gardening.” It will give you an idea of how to effectively use water during a drought on a vegetable garden.

I know that we are in a drought. We hear about it all the time, but the long-term forecasts are an El Niño, which means way above average rainfall. This can be a blessing, but to a delicate garden it can pound the soil to death. This can cause compaction.

So purchase some mulching material. I use straw and put it on three inches thick or a little greater. This helps to maintain soil moisture and protect the soil from heavy rainfall by acting as a buffer. It also helps to maintain nitrogen, carbon and many other elements vital to plant growth from being burnt up by the sun.

Other mulches are okay but tend to compact, so be careful what you use. Just have it ready to go when you do plant; this is a preventative approach to a potential drenching. If El Niño does not do its thing the mulch is still very beneficial.

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