Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ceding the Battle


This weekend I pulled up most of my vegetable garden and threw it in the compost bin.

Am I crazy?

Done for the summer
In Oregon, July 5 meant that summer had usually arrived.  The vegetable garden was in high gear and the tomatoes were ready to blush.  Here in Austin, it means that I am done until fall.  It’s taken me two years to accept this.

It doesn’t help that I get cheerful emails from Territorial Seed Company reminding me to start seeding in the last of the summer vegetables and start thinking of starting the winter garden.  Even though they are targeting the message for my Zone 8 garden (the same zone as Portland, Oregon by the way), putting in seed right now is insane.

Part of the issue is the heat.  Even though we’ve had a couple of rainy thunderstorms, the relentless Texas sun stresses all living things; native or not.   Many of my plants wilt during the day, as they are not able to keep up with the water loss.  Surprisingly, it is possible to over water plants during this time.  I have really had to learn that just because something is wilting doesn’t mean that the ground is dry.

But in the case of the vegetable garden, stressed plants are primary beacons for pests.  As soon as things get warm out there I am plagued with white flies and spider mites.  I usually try to battle against them at first will water blasts.  But as soon as that begins to fail I call it quits.  Part of my goal with gardening is to be in tune with the natural environment.  If plants are too stressed to fight off bugs, using pesticides – even if organic – seems silly.  Best thing to do is to make compost.

I will try to keep a few things alive that like the heat.  I have a couple of okra plants, eggplant, some squash and a few tomatoes that I can water for most of the summer and still get produce.  So for summer, which is like winter for me, we buy most of our fresh produce at the store.  If I have done canning we eat it during the summer, not winter.

I am lucky here in Austin.  Even though the summer is very oppressive, the winter is glorious.  I start planting greens, carrots, broccoli, onions, beans and whatever else looks good at the end of September.  I use row covers if it looks like a freeze and can make it through most cold snaps.

So even though my Oregon DNA is screaming at me to get out there and garden, I’ll just hide in the house and sit under the fan.  Some battles just aren’t worth fighting.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012