Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another heat wave

The last few weeks the weather in these parts has been fantastic.  Highs in the mid-80’s, low humidity, usually a fresh breeze, clear skies.  On Friday all that changed with a high in the upper 90’s.  Ditto for Saturday.  It looks like a front is on its way with some rain and much more seasonal temperatures for awhile.  Good.  We need rain bad.  The low humidity and abundant sunshine can really pull the water out of the ground.  I’ve been watering the beds every 2-3 days and also the areas of the lawn that are suffering the most but it’s an uphill battle. 

Two weeks ago I started thinking about preparing the bed that will grow greens over the winter under plastic.  The bed has been mostly empty since a patch of spent wax beans came out at the end of July.  The bed had not been watered since then except for the parsley plant and the soil was dry.  For the last two weeks I’ve been soaking this bed when I water the other beds to get moisture content up.  It's about ready.

A few weeks ago I stacked the modules of the compost bin to one side and shoveled the top layers of compost into the new bin.  I left the bottom module that contained mostly finished compost for the greens bed and added a few handfuls of blood meal to juice up the nitrogen level.  Saturday morning I got a wheelbarrow of compost from the old bin and spread it onto the bed, then turned it over with a shovel and watered the bed.  Good thing I did this in the morning because even then the heat and humidity were oppressive. 
After taking out the compost at the bottom I noticed there were a lot of roots going up into the compost.  Looks like the big white ash tree about 20 feet away has been freeloading nutrients off the compost pile.  Next spring the compost pile goes around the corner on the west side of the house – out of reach of the tree.   

After this brief heat wave the soil temperature needs to come down before I plant spinach and lettuce.  At least the nights are longer now and a few days of cooler temperatures should bring the soil temperature down.  I’ll plant part of the bed with greens in a few days for a fall harvest then plant the remainder in late September for overwintered greens.
The potatoes left in the remaining cage have put up some nice looking new shoots after most of the foliage was lost.  This was an experiment to see if the potatoes could do a little more.  I’m hoping that the new green solar panels (leaves) will produce some more potatoes, and I always want more potatoes.  This cage got more sunlight and had more exposure to air movement, that is probably why the potato plants did not die completely.  The other two cages averaged about 4 1/2 pounds of potatoes each.    

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