Here in Texas, at least in Dallas, there is a dead zone in the year, a time of year when it is too hot and too dry for just about any but the hardiest native plants to grow or produce. But, with the first hint of fall, the morning glories that grow like weeds in the alleys start to bloom, and I know it’s time for that wonderful time of year, the Second Season!
Follw me below the fold, and let me tell you more about the second season.
Tomatoes that produce well through early summer may produce some blooms in late summer, but it is harder for them to set fruit when the night time temperatures start to hover around the eighties. Some varieties (such as the ones I got this year) curl their leaves in disgust and just stop growing, sulking until the temperatures suit their needs. So when the temperatures start to fall to the mid-nineties during the day, and get down to the low to mid seventies at night, I start side-dressing with the compost that has been cooking all summer long. So far, so good – my slicing tomatoes are putting out blooms again like crazy!
The bell pepper plant has likewise been sulking. I should have known better than to get a variety with “California” in the name – this diva of a pepper plant refuses to act like its low-class scary brown chili Mexican cousins, the jalapenos and serranos that have been merrily soaking up the heat and making hot little babies all summer long!
In a leap of faith, I have planted several different kinds of lettuces in the shade of the pepper plants. I used a trick I learned from Organic Gardening magazine about planting teeny little seeds. I get single-ply, unbleached toilet paper and pull off a section as long as the bed or row, lay the seeds in the middle of the toilet paper strip, and then fold the edges over the seeds. I then roll up the strip of toilet paper, take it out to the garden, unroll the strip in the row I have dug for it, cover it with dirt, water well, and wait. I have used this toilet paper method with great success with other small-seeded plants like carrots and mustard. It makes it easier for me to space out the seeds – I prepare the toilet paper roll on the kitchen counter and it saves my stiff old back.
Speaking of mustard, the second season brings out the best of my mustard plants that have been self-seeding in my east bed for literally the last decade! They get a wimpy crop in the summertime, but these wimpy plants produce enough seed for a bountiful crop of beautiful mustard plants, with their piquant, purple-green leaves that will produce yummy greens all winter long – and then bolt beautifully come Spring, just in time to re-seed for the wimpy summer season…which will re-seed for fall…and on and on.
Ain’t the seasons great? Do you have a second season where you live? What do you grow then?