The Organic Oklahoman

November 27, 2006

A time for every purpose…

Filed under: Seasons — Josh @ 7:03 pm

One of the things I like best about organic gardening is that the season never seems to end. There is always something to do in the organic garden. This time of year I am shredding leaves and putting my beds to sleep for a few months. We are expecting our first big arctic push in a few days so I want to make sure I get all the leaves up and in the garden before the freeze hits and all the gumballs start falling in earnest. (Oh wretched sweet gum! They’re pretty but their fruit is a pain!)

At any rate, I am quite happy to be laying down leaves and hay in the paths over the tops of my chopped up tomato plants and other leavings. The drought sort of ruined the tomato harvest this year even with watering. Late season rains brought on a fresh round of blossoms and fruit and I hoped they would get ripe but I am afraid that there just wasn’t enough sun. They all fell off with our last frost—about a week ago—and the vines finally died back far enough that I knew it was over.

I used a Fiskar’s brush axe—which looks like an English bill hook—to do the dastardly deed of cutting down and chopping up the vines. The hardened steel blade just sang through the vines and the grass. Yes grass! In Oklahoma it’s not only unavoidable even with lots of mulch but local folks swear that it actually helps by keeping the plant cool in the hot summers we have around here. I try to keep as much out as I can but it comes up anyway. At least its better than weeds.

One thing I was able to grow this year was morning glory. I put some out last year that came up on and subsequently destroyed a copper obelisk (Jackson and Perkins). This year it just appeared on one of my tomato cages during the drought and I was so put out by the lack of rain and so happy to see something green in the garden that I left it. It was beautiful and attracted pollinators so I think next year I’ll plant some on purpose. Luckily as I was finishing off the tomato patch I gathered a pocket full of seeds and pods.

I had great luck with marigolds too. Too much luck in fact. Many of them were upwards of four feet tall. Note to self: Giant is not a good variety to plant unless you want shade. The smaller ones did nicely too, though, and they appeared to help keep pests away. I had very little trouble from the bean beetles this year and they have been my primary pest—but this year I had blister bugs and tomato horn worms to deal with as well. Nothing a little Neem oil couldn’t handle. The grasshoppers were thick too but they didn’t eat much. I picked a bushel of the things off I’m sure but for the most part they just ate some and went on.

One new thing I learned this year was that Moles do not like the new castor oil repellants. I put down a pretty good layer of that stuff early-spring and I am just now seeing moles in the garden. (Spectracide) Last year moles were the bane of my existence practically destroying all of my tender green bean plants. I’ve got a young stray cat I’ve been encouraging to stick around with liberal feedings. Hopefully he’ll assist next year if he lives though the winter. This part of the country’s pretty tough on cats if they’re only half wild.

Next year I hope to have a Fall and Winter Garden as well. We’ll see what happens.

OO

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