The Hungry Engineer

A Fall Garden

17 Sep 2008

I am considering a fall garden. Here in Texas we have a narrow window between the sweltering heat of summer and the first winter frost (which is usually very mild) in which we can grow a small garden. Here’s the thing – it probably won’t work, but I think I’m going to try it out anyway.

At our previous house, I had spent several back-breaking weekends clearing out a nice 10’ x 10’ section of our yard, building it up with big 50-70 lb limestone blocks, and dutifully amending the crummy soil so it could support life. Then I had all kinds of fun growing tomatoes and peas and peppers and herbs and carrots and onions – heck, I even had a little lemon tree in a pot in the corner of the bed. About three years ago, we moved closer to town and I had to leave my hard-won garden. The new place is beautiful, our shortened commutes have been fantastic, and we’ve even enjoyed the fact that nearly our entire lot is shade-covered. It makes the summers here much more bearable. Unfortunately, it isn’t much for supporting a garden.

Because I had to grow something edible, I’ve slowly built up my arsenal of herbs. I discovered that pineapple sage grows wonderfully in the shade – and it has the added interest of producing pretty red blooms that entice butterflies and hummingbirds. I got rid of a stand of small trees on one side of the house, effectively creating a spot that receives at least some amount of sun (not a lot), and there I’ve planted a bay laurel tree, a sage plant (that’s gone totally berzerk), a rosemary plant and a few varieties of basil, and they’re all producing nicely.

Now I think I’m ready to try a few vegetables … you know … just to see what might happen. My master plan (if I can make myself take a break and execute said plan) is to try (seed availability permitting) some bush beans, summer squash, and kohlrabi. The bush beans and squash should mature before our first frost date, and the kohlrabi is fairly frost tolerant. This won’t be a huge endeavor, to be sure, but I’m really wound up about the possibility that it just might work. If not, as much as it pains me to consider this option, my spouse and I may be having a discussion about how much we’re in love with some of the back yard trees.

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