The effects of Cooling Weather

The weather is cooling, especially at night, and our plants like it.  The heat has gone out of the sun but there’s a residue of heat in the the soil that allows good germination of the cool-season vegetable seeds and which encourages good root development of those plants that we set out.  All is well in our gardens–except for the germination of a new set of winter weeds which have the same enjoyment of  the environment that our crop plants are experiencing.  Go after them before they take a firm hold. Hand picking is good exercise for you but it’s not as quick as using a “hula-hoe” if you have planted your vegetables in rows.

Some few gardeners have moved the drip lines to the sides of their plot, thinking, no doubt, that they are using their space more efficiently, but this leaves a dry strip in the center of their plot. This, when it evaporates, builds up a strip of salty soil which discourages strong germination of seeds and eventually affects plants that you’ve recently set out.

Mulches are for the summer months, now we want the winter sun to keep our soil warm so keep it clear so it absorbs that heat. This will allow you to make succession sowings of lettuce, broccoli and cabbage, and other fast growers. The slower-growing vegetables such as  chard and kale, will give us harvest right through until next May or June if you clip off the lower leaves once a week

If you are fond of onions, remember that your Board of Directors will be giving you a bunch of young onion seedlings for planting out in January. We’ll be giving you advice on this worthwhile use of your space and time. If you haven’t planted onions before, ask your neighborly gardeners about their  enjoyment of last year’s harvest. Onions are best planted at the far end of the drip lines (where the green valves are not) because there come a time, when they are starting to ripen, when it’s best for the soil to dry out.  If we keep the soil moist the onions tend to keep growing–or flowering!)

There should be no need for covering your plants against night frosts until mid-December–and we’ll write about that in good time.  For now we want to benefit from our beautiful warm fall sunshine.

Finally, some nurseries are selling strawberry plants at sale prices and its a good time to set them out.  Give them space to grow strong, maybe produce flowers now and certainly flower in January and February for a harvest in May, June and July.

The gardens are looking great, you’ve worked well and timely.  Enjoy the good fresh food.

40 Comments to “The effects of Cooling Weather”

  1. Dee Says:

    I am a recent transplant from the east coast. There most people mulched with shredded hardwood bark. You suggest not to mulch in the winter. Doesn’t a layer of mulch help conserve water?

  2. Teala Smith Says:

    My only comment is~ How are you doing? I miss seeing new posts. I hope all is well. I use your book almost religiously!
    Thanks.

  3. Gene Says:

    Dear Teala,
    Thanks for your comment. I’ve been lazy about entering anything into my blog site, but am making amends and intend to write a blog every Friday. So please stay connected. I’m glad you are finding the book “Desert Gardening” helpful. We now have thirty gardens and the newcomers find the book useful. It’s a challenge to meet with all the new gardeners but we are getting help from the more experienced ones who are making weekend visits to the meetings. George

  4. George Brookbank Says:

    Dear Dee,
    Thank you for your comment of 5 November, 2011. I’m sorry for being late in replying. Although mulches do conserve moisture they also keep the summer soil cool by protecting it from the sun’s rays. This is necessary in the summer when exposed soil can become too hot for good plant growth (unless the plant is a melon or squash or heat loving plant). Contrariwise, it’s a good idea in winter to allow the sun to warm the soil for the cool season vegetables in case repeated cold temperatures slow down growth. That’s when a mulch doesn’t help.
    George

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