Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Maintaining the Summer vegetable garden while planning for Fall

Now that we are halfway through the summer it is time to start thinking about fall and winter crops. Winter crops may be a luxury that many gardeners across the country can't fathom but here in San Diego, winter is a great time to garden. Winter gardens have less bugs, require less water, and varieties can range from cool lettuces all the way to juicy tomatoes if you have the right conditions.

I placed our seed order for the next season today and it includes arugula, broccoli, 2 types of cabbage, 3 types of peas, 6 varieties of lettuce, 3 varieties of spinach, 2 Swiss chard varieties, carrots and much more. 

Marigold seeds 
I did not order any Marigold seeds because now that I have a number of Marigold plants, I don't need to. Marigolds are easy seeds to save and replant. The seeds form at the base of the blossom, once the blossom dries up, simply pluck the petals out of the base of the flower to find your seeds.

Even with the fall season on my mind, I am enjoying the present glory of our warm season garden.

Heirloom lemon cucumber that we ate with dinner last night - yum
The summer garden requires a lot of water. With our recent expansions, we did not realize just how much time we would have to spend watering during this time of year. I'm out there for at least an hour each day, and often more to try and keep up with the water requirements. Some of my ornamentals are neglected because my focus is on watering the food. We  are going to look into some soaker hoses for the raised beds this weekend to try and reduce the amount of time we are using to water.  It's a good thing too because our housework is severely neglected in favor of taking care of the garden right now. 

I do love the time in the garden though.

I soak in the gorgeous view while hand watering the biggest raised bed
A butterfly that was keeping me entertained as I watered yesterday
"Don't forget to water me!"
It's not a bad place to work at all; heading up to the roof to water the planter boxes up there
While I was on the roof I saw several of these moths, I think it is a Fiery Skipper moth 
I recently bought the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America by Eric R. Eaton and Kenn Kaufman. It's been a great resource to help identify insects in the garden but I still am not certain I have the right species here. As time goes on and I become more and more familiar with the bugs in the area, I am sure it will be easier for me to accurately identify insects. If this is a fiery skipper moth then it feeds on Bermuda grass, which is great for us because we have a problem with it in our garden but not on the roof. I've found a couple of caterpillars on the plants, and some damage on a couple of tomatoes this week so I plan to treat the garden with BT after the weather cools this evening. 

Frijole chilling next to the lemon-rose geranium in the heat of the day

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