Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
November, 2009
Regional Report

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The winter vegetable garden, ready for planting.

Fall Renovation

I cleaned out the vegetable garden at Henry's yesterday. It was a perfect day for gardening: breezy, sunny, and cool. These days I tend to perspire like a horse when I exert any kind of physical energy so it was an unexpected pleasure to be able to enjoy the gardening experience without sweat dripping into my eyeballs.

The vegetable garden had definitely come to the end of its summer production. Weeds had grown unchecked to cover the surface of the soil, hiding under the nasturtium and verbena that had escaped the borders. There were a few mildewy zucchini plants hanging on and the remains of the summer's pitiful tomato crop. There was a largish clump of some kind of onions and a healthy clump of chives still going strong. I dug those up and set them to the side and began digging the weeds.

I like to use a spading fork for this kind of work. Starting at one corner of the bed I push the fork into the soil with my big foot and then pull back on the handle to loosen the weeds from the soil. Once the roots have been loosened from the ground, I hand pull the weeds and toss them over to the path outside the garden. No sense in letting any weed seeds drop into my freshly turned garden bed.
After working my way across the bed the soil is loose and the weeds are gone. Oh, bliss! I felt a bit sad to dig up the nasturtiums, but they were looking worn out and had already dropped their seed. I felt assured there will be a beautiful, healthy crop of nasturtiums growing again very soon.

My next step was to open a couple of three cubic-yard bags of Kellogg's organic compost, spread it across the surface of the soil, and then work it in, again with the spading fork. By this time my new knee was beginning to complain, but I reassured it that I was almost to the home stretch.

Once the soil was clean and amended, I divided up the clump of onions (scallions?) and planted them in rows. They looked kind of floppy, so I cut the foliage off to within a few inches of the surface of the soil. If they are indeed scallions and not onions, the haircut will be a benefit resulting in tender new growth, perfect for eating. Too bad there was no tag to identify them. The chives went back into the earth as is. If Mrs. Henry wants some for cooking, she can just give them a haircut.

I'll go back to the garden on Tuesday with some nice winter cabbage in cell packs, a pack or two of sugar pea seeds and a big package of mixed sweet pea seeds to grow along the fence. Mrs. Henry just loves sweet peas! Maybe I'll try to grow some lettuce and cilantro, even though I can hear the slugs and snails waiting on the sidelines smacking their lips in anticipation.

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