It’s that time of year again.
Not really summer, not quite yet fall. Well, I suppose it IS technically fall, but it doesn’t feel like it to me. Sure, the days are slowly getting shorter and it’s not hotter than the hubs of hell during the day, but the leaves are only just beginning to hint to their changing colors. I haven’t had to break out a jacket yet. And my mums only have a couple blooms on them. I also haven’t bought any pumpkins yet from the farmers market. As a matter of fact, the farmers market, while selling foddershocks, pumpkins and mums, is still packed full of tomatoes, apples and peppers.
But, the summer vegetables in the delicious potager are pretty much over. Last week, I pulled up all the tomatoes except for two that still had a a couple big green ones on them. I planted a few cool weather crops, although it was a bit late for them. Hopefully I’ll get a few harvests of lettuce before the cold kills it, and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to time my kale just right to have it lightly frosted on a couple times before it’s ready. Kale is one of those crops that actually is better after a frost.
It was a stunningly beautiful September evening. I went out to check the fall vegetables and to get some soil samples to be tested by the WVU Extension Service.
The marigolds are still going strong, and are one of the few things the deer haven’t touched. These past few weeks, it seems there’s been new deer damage weekly. This latest damage wasn’t from nibbling the tops of plants like they did my tomatoes, but trampling the tiny arugula seedlings just coming up. Luckily, it wasn’t too extensive. At this point, if this doe is going to sniff around my raised beds, I wish she’d refrain from actually walking through the middle of them!
The best thing about my garden right now is this volunteer plant. It’s a cantaloupe vine! Because they require a long warm growing season, these baby melons most likely won’t get ripe enough to eat before it gets too cold, but I’m crossing my fingers.
I even snapped a picture of evidence of the brazen squirrel I’ve been seeing in the backyard: pieces of nut hulls on my compost bin. I’ve heard this guy barking the last couple mornings and seen him out in the yard a few times. They don’t bother me at all as long as they stay out of the bird feeders.
The main reason I was in my garden tonight was to get some soil samples to have my soil tested by the WVU Extension Service. I’ve never had my soil tested, and since I’ve been gardening here, every year, despite my best efforts, the yield has been fairly underwhelming. Maybe the secret is to amend the soil to add what it’s lacking. The soil sample collection is fairly easy. Just scoop about 1 cup of soil into a clean zip-top baggie and download the form. Send the form and sample to the lab at WVU. But, if you get the sample to the Kanawha County Extension Office before September 30th, they will send the sample to WVU for you, free of charge.
Fall is really when you should get your soil tested. Most people wait until spring, but then it’s too late, especially if you want to plant spring cool-weather crops. Some soil amendments need time to work into the soil and distribute themselves, and need to be added a few months before you plan to use them.
I am eagerly awaiting the first fall harvest of lettuce, arugula, kale and radishes. And with the beautiful weather we’ve been having, hopefully it won’t be long. In the meantime, I’ve begun planning next year’s delicious potager. Hopefully, it will begin early next spring with soil amended to the right levels, courtesy of my soil test results from the WVU Exension.