Saturday, October 6, 2012

Out and About in the Autumn Garden

Summer in Arizona really takes it time. After months of long hot days, we delight in every drop in temperature we can get. October is transition time here in Phoenix, this is the prime time to start our cool weather vegetables. It's time to start over again, and what gardener doesn't love that time! 

 Most of our beds have been weeded, cleared of old sun burnt tomatoes plants and dried up vines. We re-work our raised beds by adding wheelbarrows of compost from our bins. A sprinkle of bone meal (phosphorus), kelp meal (potassium) and are added. Gardening is a continual science experience and we are always learning. For more detailed information on soil preparation, one of my favorite gardening books is Desert Gardening for Beginners.

 Bed # 3 is ready to seed. This 4'x 8', is just the right size to reach across to the center. We place 4 lines of soaker hose evenly spaced in the box and plant on either side. That means eight rows of seeds. I always fill my beds with a variety of edibles. This bed has a row each of beets, romaine, bibb lettuces, radishes, spinach, arugula, carrots, kale and oak leaf lettuce. I leave space on the end for sugar snap peas. When planted, the trick is to keep the seeds moist until they emerge and to keep the birds (and other things) from eating up the tender little leaves! Here, we place concrete mesh wire over our bed to keep the neighborhood cats out. Once the veggies are up, we place the wire mesh over the bed and place bird netting over that.
Our pine garden boxes usually last about 5 years. The bottom of the beds start to rot from the constant moisture. This is a newly built box that replaced the old one. We start from the bottom and add our newspaper (or cardboard or burlap bags),we layer manure, straw and lots of compost from our bins.

More information on how we build our raised beds here.
Once our compost bins are empty we start the whole process again. We pull out our bags of shredded leaves (saved from last winter). We layer grass clippings, coffee grounds, shredded newspaper and straw. Chicken and goat manure are also added to the mix. Each layer is given a good watering. We use our pitchfork to break up clumps and stir things up a bit. We shut the lids and let the magic begin! 
Adding leaves, the backbone of our compost. Below, straw shoveled from the chicken pen.
Add organic matter, mix lightly and spray as you go. We fill our bins all the way to the top.
We love these recycled garbage barrels, they are indispensable! They are cut off and holes have been drilled around the sides. They are just the right height for mixing and shoveling. Most major cities recycle their barrels, our cost was $5 each. Here is the link for the Phoenix area. 
Pole beans planted at the end of the box #2, tendrils scramble up the trellis!
Garden greens taking root, except for a few bare spots (darn birds). No matter, that's when I make my way  to the local nursery and buy a few transplants. I love to plant snapdragons, pansies, johnny- jump- ups or nasturtium right beside my vegetables.

 Don't you agree with Mr.Claude Monet?

 “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”


Terry said...

I have a very similar composting system. Was reading in an old agriculture book about adding hydrated lime to the compost to preserve nutrients. What do you think?

Staci said...

I am new to your blog and think it's just wonderful! Thank you for the tip on keeping the cats out of the raised garden beds. This has been a problem for me with the neighbor cats. I'm definitely going to try it next year!

ann said...

You have quite a gardening process, which seems to work well. The raised beds are neat and nicely organized, making the garden orderly and really attractive.

admin said...

Saw the link to you from The Simple Farm...

Love seeing how other gardeners do things...especially ones growing in my area! Have been looking for a way to cover my beds effectively with bird netting, your method.

Wishing you happy gardening this season.