A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Wet dirt and weekend plans.

I haven’t had much time to get outside the past several days due to stormy and wet weather.  We’ve enjoyed a nice cool front yesterday and the day before, with highs hitting 70 and dipping down into the high fifties at night.   Ahhhhh!  Everyone I know has enjoyed the cooler weather, which ushered in the first days of fall.  Unfortunately, Texas weather is always changing and we are forecast to be back in the nineties for the next few days …

The plants look like they’re ready for some sun, though,  and could use a few days to dry out.  They haven’t grown much this week, but I expect the conditions to be right the next few days for them to really take off (they’ve had lots of natural watering, cool and shady weather to veg and prepare new leaves, and the sun will be out to give them much needed food to explode with new growth).  I counted fifteen new leaves forming on one of the zucchini plants alone.    Hopefully, all of this back-and-forth weather doesn’t cause any problems.

I came home on Monday to find that one of the bean plants had succumbed to the intense heat (95 degrees).  The first set of leaves had nearly fallen off and the fresh new leaves were sagging over onto the dirt.  It was a sad moment.   I found that most of the plants were stressed as well.  The rest of the beans were wilted, the squash was yellowing and wilting and the zucchini looked the same.  I had made sure to water a little in the morning, but that didn’t help.   I was pretty upset about it at the time.

The next couple of days, however, turned out to be good for the plants.  Very little sun and cooler weather allowed the bean plant to come back to life (surprisingly, it was completely sagged over!) and the zucchini and squash have not yellowed anymore.   The newest leaves are bright green.  I think I just allowed the soil to get too hot – by not providing enough mulch.  This stressed the roots and the plant suffered.  I mulched with some organic tree bark (about 3 inches worth) to help protect them and keep the soil temperature moderated.   Wood mulch is not the best mulch to use, but it is okay if the mulch stays on top and is not worked in.  Wood chips bind up  free nitrogen, making it unavailable for the plants to use.  This is not a problem on the surface, so I’ll be sure to remove the bark if I plan on adding any compost or worm castings as fertilizer.   Of course, I can also use fresh compost as a mulch …

Tomorrow, I am definitely going to take advantage of the cooler morning, the wet ground and the sun.    I think I’ll get up early, cut the boards down to size, assemble the additional boxes and then dig up some sod before it approaches the ninety degree mark tomorrow afternoon.  The only drawback is that the grower’s dirt is now wet.  You shouldn’t work with wet dirt because it will destroy its’ texture, making it compacted and unusable.  I think I’ll just cover the pile with tarp and let it dry out for the next several days.

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