Now that August is upon us, it finally feels like summertime.
Our tomatoes are just starting to turn red, onions are sizing up and the overall bountiful harvest has returned. This is a very busy time of year for us at Ocean Air Farms, and it is also the hardest time to stay focused on the future.
Why do we struggle so much in August? Because, we are always caught up in the moment: Harvesting, weeding, harvesting, weeding, river. With all this excitement going on, we often lose track of the fact that we have only two more months of active plant growth.
So, back to thinking about the future. If we stay on this path of
only maintaining and harvesting from our current plantings, some time
around October, our bounty turns to scanty. The fact is that now, what
seems to us like "finally summertime," is the most important time to
plant anything you expect to harvest this winter and spring.
Every single year our winter garden falls short of our expectations.
We're not saying we don't plant a winter garden, but back at planning
time we dream about the full array of winter produce. Our list looks
something like this; carrots, beets, leeks, kale, cabbage, broccoli,
brussels sprouts, and some winter hardy lettuces.
So, if it seems as hard for you to think about planting your winter
garden as it was for us, let us share with you the reasoning. Remember
that August and September are the last months of the "growing season."
By October growth virtually stops. So, if you have planned well enough
to have established cabbage plants and broccoli that is just showing
its little crown, you can expect growth to drastically slow down and to
pick off these plants for months.
Another concept that has taken us years to admit is the differences
between June and July garden growth and what happens in August and
September. Well, in the early part of the summer we are blessed with
fair temps and long days, plants tend to respond very well to this.
Now, here in August, we are so caught up in the present that we
forget the days are shortening and the temps are slowly dropping.
Another local fact we'd like to share is, August is the month with the
biggest sway in temperatures, it is home to some of the warmest days,
but also we see cooler nights.
We see this as the first step in the closing door of "easy" growing.
All of this reasoning comes down to one important fact. If you do not
have plants that have a good head start on the coming weather, you stand
little chance of seeing growth from October or anytime afterward.
So, this is it, plan and act now! Your future of garden goodies is
depending on your foresight. Come see us at the Farmers Market or "like"
Ocean Air Farms on Facebook, and we'll share our updates on continuing
the harvest all winter long.
Del Norte Gardening runs every fourth week on Thursdays. Paul Madeira
and Julie Jo Ayer Williams own Ocean Air Farms in Fort Dick.
Have a question or suggestion? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
and it may be addressed in a future column.