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Go figure

By Penny Stine

I planted in this straw bale on three different occasions before finally giving up. Every time something would sprout, some critter would come along and chomp it. The last time I planted in the straw bale was probably early July. The other day, I saw this.

I tried both melons and squash in the bale, so it could be either one, but I'm leaning toward squash. I think it’s interesting that the seed was there, not germinating at all during almost the entire month of July. It wasn’t until we got the big rain at the end of the month that it finally sprouted.
The bale gets plenty of water, so it wasn’t a lack of water. Perhaps it just didn’t like the heat.


In all the seed catalogs or on the seed packets themselves, many of the directions say to sow in early spring, and then say that they can be sown again in mid-summer for a fall harvest, if you live in an area with a long growing season.
I think we have a pretty long growing season (especially compared to the rest of the Rocky Mountain Region), and I’ve been attempting to do fall crops for several years, without much luck.

I planted Swiss Chard, carrots, a lettuce mix and beets sometime in mid-July, and this is the only plant that came up. It’s a Fordhook Giant Swiss chard. At the time, I didn’t realize how much the ground cherries would grow and crowd everything else. Swiss chard can get pretty huge, so I think this one will hold its own. 

Last week, I decided to use up the rest of my seeds (and I even went out and bought a few additional ones) and try one more time for a fall crop. I planted on the last Monday in July, and we got soaked with rain on both Monday and Tuesday night of the same week.
I bought some kohlrabi seeds Tuesday after work and planted those when I got home, so those got a nice soak, too.


So far, the only sprouts I can see are these, which I’m pretty sure are beets.

I’m sure all the little seeds underground appreciated this week’s rain, too. We’ll see if any more begin to sprout now that the sun is returning.

I’m not sold on the idea of mid-summer planting for a fall crop. Maybe it works well in other areas, but so far, I’m not seeing stellar results in my garden.


Btw, ever since my rototiller broke, I’ve decided to be a non-rototilling gardener, which means I often have stuff that grows where I didn't plant it, but where the plant from the previous year went to seed or where the compost sprouted.

Here’s the healthiest kale I have in this year’s garden, growing where I certainly didn’t plant it last spring.I only planted one new variety of kale last spring and it didn’t sprout at all. Good thing it comes up on its own.




This potato plant is growing in a bed that’s overrun with columbine, overgrown wild kale, some weeds and flowers because it's too shady to grow many vegetables. How that potato got there, I certainly do not know, because I’m fairly certain that I didn’t put it there! 


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