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 Fall food gardening under drought conditions: Use row cover!

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dragonfly
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PostSubject: Fall food gardening under drought conditions: Use row cover!   Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:34 pm

Usually around this time I'd just be scattering seeds about, watering a bit and letting nature and the rain do the rest.

This hasn't been a usual year!

The question is how to keep the water in the ground and the seeds wet long enough for them to germinate.

The thick layer of leaves we spread in the spring has worked well to help keep the water in the ground throughout the summer but they need to be cleared away from the areas that I will be seeding, especially for the smaller seeds. It is still too hot and dry to keep bare ground damp enough. Noticing the abundance of 'winter' squash I am and have been getting throughout the summer must have triggered the solution.

Row cover!

I have a good supply already that I use to protect plants from freezes. Just push the leaves aside plant the seeds, water and cover. So far I have successfully germinated Roma beans. Just put in some beet and Chinese broccoli seed the same way. Lifting the cover and watering once a day keeps it plenty wet even in direct sun. You can use one or several layers of row cover. After the seedlings are big enough you can slide the leaves back in around them for mulch.

This has the added advantage of keeping the pesky squirrels out of the tempting freshly turned soft soil.

(There is also usually a good bit of cursing this time of the year...)

Covering the drip lines with some small logs, wood, or dead plants also helps retain water in the ground.
I have also started some seeds in pots, also covering them with the row cover. Peat as a growing medium is great at holding the water. Mustards, beans, sugar snap peas, kale, edible chrysanthemum, green zen, parsley, etc.....

Still, it would be nice to get some rain...........
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dragonfly
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PostSubject: Row cover and seed germination update   Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:24 am

All of the seed that were planted in the beds under row cover are germinating and turning into seedlings: Roma beans, beets, sugar snap peas, and Chinese broccoli. A friend of mine just told me that row cover is always used in Israel to help get seed started.

Additional vegetable seedlings, from seeds dropped by last years vegetables, are also germinating under the row cover in the areas cleared for the sowed seed. They have been waiting patiently under the thick cover of leaf mulch all summer!

Next week if we have under 100 degree weather I will try direct sowing parsnips, carrots, mustard, green zen, and Japanese radishes.

The Japanese radishes give delicious edible greens, mild long white radishes, beautiful edible flowers and finally crunchy tender seed pods. The young radish seed pods can be used raw in salads, stir fried, or pickled.

Make sure to leave some to go to seed for next year!
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