36 here this morning

elkwc(6b)October 6, 2013

The NWS had predicted 33 and the other two sources I watch had said 39-41. It was 41 for a low at the airport a mile away as the crow flies from my house. It looks like my season is about over. I have already started doing reviews and forming my list for next year. Saved a bunch more seeds this year. Will only need to buy a few and have already bought most of them. I will continue to see how the winter evolves and what the moisture situation looks like for next season. I changed my growing habits this year and may change it some more if the persistent drought looks to continue. Overall I have a good year. The last extended hot spell really reduced yields but I have been over run with tomatoes for 3 plus weeks. The other crops did ok. I have one bean plant in a hot frame I will try to keep going for a few weeks to get some more seed production from. I also have carrots and cabbage that I will leave. I have already removed some plants. It is time to plant the garlic, prepare beds for next season and put the garden to bed. Jay

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I am also modifying my gardens due to drought conditions. The yard/garden will become a rock garden with one or three plants...so far, planning to leave the crepe myrtle there and moving everything else to the back where things are shaped normally and it is easier to water. Same with the parts of the side yards I've been working on. Paver stones and rocks require much less water than plants and recover nicely after being stepped on.

Putting the garden to bed....what exactly does that entail? I'm a relatively new gardener and last year, all I did was cut dead looking plants almost to the ground and then tried to avoid looking at any of it until spring came back.

I prefer summer...I'm always motivated to get up and get out there early and work like mad before it gets too hot to continue. Now, it's more of a matter of waiting until it has warmed up enough for me to get out of bed.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 10:48AM
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I just came back in from inspecting the garden. The damage was more intense than I expected. In hindsight I wish I had put a cover over some of the crops escpecially my sweet potatoes. I will be able to tell more later in the day. It got all of the foliage on some crops and just part of it on others. Many of the vines seem to be ok. I think part of my sweet potatoes will be ok. So far the stems look fine and the leaves underneath look fine. I lost a lot of foliage so only time will tell. It got some of my tomato plants and the one next to it is ok. No wind so there were cold pockets. The low spot in the garden got wiped out. It was so windy Friday I was afraid I couldn't keep a frost cover over the plants. I guess this year has kinda killed my motivation so last evening when I looked at the updated forecasts and decided I was only going to gain a week or two and thought that it probably wasn't going to hurt anything anyway. But 2-3 weeks on the sweet potatoes would really help. If they look like the vines survived later in the day I'll probably go ahead and cover them for a few weeks. Much of the rest will start being removed today.

Putting a garden to bed means different things to different growers. I like to prepare my rows for the next growing season. I've changed to partial no till gardening. So now I don't till the whole garden anymore. I either use the potato fork and turn the soil over in the area where I will plant or I till the row only. Usually 12-24 inches wide depending on crop to be planted. I work the decayed mulch and any additives I'm going to add in the soil in the fall. This fall I will be planting some cover crops in some of the rows. This way come spring all I have to do is basically plant except where I have cover crops. Then I will till under the cover cropsin the early spring. By doing this in the fall it gives the mulch, compost and anything else I add time to break down and be readily available to the plants next year. I have a lot of leaves from last fall I will be adding to next years tomato rows. I have lots of old alfalfa partially decomposed hay I will add to some and partially decomposed horse manure also. I'm going to pull some soil samples as soon as the kits arrive and check my soil. It has been 3 years and with the drought I want to see where I'm at. Just before the first hard freeze I will add a mulch cover over the garlic. How much depends on how tall it is. Then usually around Thanksgiving I will add a deeper covering. Then in the spring I will gradually pull it back some. But leave enough for weed suppression and moisture retention. Another major reason I do preparation in the fall is that I have more time in the fall. In the spring when it is time to prepare the soil I'm usually busy at work and also have plants growing I that need attention. And this coming season I plan to graft more plants than I have in recent years. I have prepared soil in the spring and have great crops. So again it is more of what works well for you. Jay

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 12:17PM
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Krisat I forgot to state above that in my opinion that I feel if a person is using organic gardening methods and little or no commercial fertilizers that fall preparation is more critical. It isn't a must but like I mentioned above it provides the needed time for the items worked into the soil to break down and become part of the soil and be available to the plants. Jay

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 12:22PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Jay, It got down to 43 here, so I kinda figured you were just about down to freezing way up there. Our forecast had been for 46 degrees and I felt like it might get even colder.

I didn't cover up any plants because I am just in the mood to go ahead and let them die so I can have a long rest and recovery from the drought of 2013, but I dragged the container of George's bean plants into the garage. I am hoping to keep it going long enough to get seeds from it.

It rained about 1.1" here a couple of days ago, but we still are very dry and the cracks in the ground haven't gone away, though some of them look smaller so at least that's some improvement. That's the first time in a couple of months that we have had more than an inch of rain in one day at our house, so it was really nice to get the rain, but I kinda hate that such cold temperatures came along with it. There's already been one grass fire this morning (because we have an arsonist starting fires) and it was in the same area as last week's 1,000-acre fire, so clearly the one inch of rain wasn't enough to stop the grass from burning. Nothing at our house has greened up much since the rain fell, but its just been a couple of days. I'm hoping we'll see some greenup of something because everything is too brown.

I had a great gardening year in terms of yield, but had to water a lot more than I like and I don't plan to have a big garden in 2014 unless we get a lot of rain this fall and winter. The last time I checked, the drought is forecast to persist here in southcentral OK through the end of this year, so I am not busy making garden plans for 2014. I'm just going to wait and see what the weather does before I decide what I'm going to do.

This year has thoroughly killed my motivation to do anything in the garden, and I've been focusing on painting the downstairs interior of the house and doing other house-related renovation stuff instead of working in the garden. If I run out of interior painting to do and the autumn remains warm and dry, I'll start painting the exterior of the house.

I cannot do anything in the garden at this point...the ground is baked hard as concrete and the garden is full of snakes. Last week I had a close encounter with a rather elderly timber rattler. He possibly was the largest one I've ever seen here, in terms of width, though I think I've seen one that was longer but skinnier. This 5-foot-long rattler (it had eight rattles and one button) and I had a disagreement about which one of us was going to go into the chicken coop, and ultimately I was the one who went into the chicken coop. He was my second venomous snake encounter of the week, and two days later I had a third snake encounter at the garden fence. I dare not attempt garden cleanup or soil amendment until December or whenever it finally gets cold enough that the snakes will not be out and about at all. Sometimes I don't get to do garden cleanup and soil improvement until December or January because I've had snakes out and active as late as the last weekend in November...and then in December we're always so busy with holiday stuff that I can't find time to get into the garden. If the weather is good, I often do a lot of garden cleanup and soil amendment in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

We're still getting tomatoes from fall plants in pots, but I don't intend to drag the plants into the greenhouse. I just don't think the flavor is good enough in fall and winter to spend time babying tomato plants along until December or January. We have tons of preserved tomatoes to keep us happy all winter and spring anyhow, so I can live without fresh winter tomatoes.

It is supposed to be 46 degrees again tomorrow morning so we'll see if it hits 46 degrees, or if it goes lower than forecast again. The high temperature today is supposed to be about 10 degrees warmer than yesterday, but I don't know if that necessarily means the night time lows will stay warmer.

Okievegan, I am not as consistent with soil improvement and putting the garden to bed in the fall as Jay is. I just do it whenever I feel like it...sometime between November and early January. The only issue I will encounter some years is that if I don't do the garden clean-up in fall, I find myself doing it in thick mud in a wet winter. Sometimes I get all the dead plant material out in late November and then just pile up tons of compost and chopped/shredded autumn leaves on top of the beds. I don't necessarily work it into the soil....I leave it on top and let it decompose over the winter, and work it into the soil just before planting. I'm in a heavily-wooded rural area with plentiful wildlife, so have to time my garden clean-up and soil improvement carefully so that I'm not finding snakes in the mulch or even just lying on the ground under dead tomato plants that I'm pulling up. I've had more snake encounters this summer than in the last 3 or 4 years combined, so at this point, I don't even want to go outside. Snake-wise, I'm hoping for an early freeze although I don't much like cold weather.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 1:15PM
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