Evan’s Labor Day Fall Garden Update

Evan Dunn: the author

Hi everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying the festivities and relaxation of Labor Day Weekend, I personally have spent much of the past two days reminding myself that the Public Library is closed; I love that place. 🙂 I do have some fairly good news to report about the garden: it’s not dead :-), but coming along. It’s been about 3 weeks since the initial planting and I’ve come to the conclusion that some seeds must have been planted too deeply, or perhaps there was some soil erosion that extended the period in which visual confirmation of germination hasn’t been possible. I hesitate to dig everything up simply to say ‘oh I wish I hadn’t done that b/c there are the sprouts!’. In spite of depth issues, the bush beans are doing quite well, the lettuce is coming along, the beats are beating, and the broccoli is  beginning to broccolize (I just made that up but it seems appropriate). Mysteriously, dozens of mimosa seeds have sprouted, and I’ve struggled to definitively account for this; were they in the compost? Were they dormant seeds? Did Johnny Mimosa-seed surreptitiously plant them under cover of darkness? Who knows? If I hadn’t used the same two bags of compost I would have been able to do a comparative study, eh? I’ve used some pine needles from our tree as mulch for the beans since they’re fairly well developed, however the beets, lettuce, kale, and broccoli haven’t yet reached the height that would allow for significant mulching…should I mulch anyways? I suppose it is possible to mulch without the plants reaching a specific height, and it would probably reduce water loss; even it is a negligible amount, it would still be something saved…hmmm? Another thing I regret NOT doing is having the front yard soil tested. I began the OSU master gardener program last Thursday and it was incredibly informative. Professor Zhang Hailin gave a lecture about the importance of soil testing and the appropriate balance of soil nutrients for vegetable growth. This is of course fairly variable given the type and variety, however he gave us general ranges in which pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium need to be. Approximately one month before the class began, each student was allowed to take a soil sample, submit it for testing, and then receive the results on the first day of class. Remarkably, the soil that I sampled, which was from the back yard garden, had more than 3 times the amount of phosphorous, and close to 2 times as  much potassium as I needed. This shouldn’t effect the vegetable growth negatively though since plant growth is based on a Liebig’s Law of the Minimum; meaning that the nutrient that is in least supply will be the regulating factor for growth and yield. This is of course good to know, however the problem was that those results came from the back yard and not where I planted in the front, so I actually have no idea what the nutrient mix is in the front. Eh, live and learn, it was fun to not only learn from him but to also speak a little Chinese. We’ll see how things turn out. Overall, it’s progressing and it’s already been a subject of interest with some of the neighborhood kids. They’re curious about a lot of things and although a front yard garden isn’t as exciting as say…the X-box, I’ve been fairly impressed with their enthusiasm. It is rather incredible how we put a seed in the ground and then a living thing comes up…what a world :-). Enjoy the rest of the holiday and happy gardening.

Please feel free to email me at evan@normansustainability.org or  call me at 405-625-5655 if you have any questions or comments.

Hasta luego,

Evan

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