Alchemy Garden Journal Entry 22: Creating Fall Beauty

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10/10/2020

Gorgeous, lumpy pumpkins, vibrant golden colors, and heavenly spiced delicacies are what make autumn my absolute favorite season. Time to wrap up my spring-summer garden bed and bring in some new colors and a fresh new harvest.

After learning so much from my first season of taking gardening seriously, I accepted the unpredictable habits of mother nature and decided to continue gardening for life. I need not stress myself out to keep things alive when death is inevitable for all of us; it’s just a matter of accepting this and enjoying our time with the journey and the flowers.

Harvested lemongrass about to get dried.

Towards the end of the summer, my garden bed was overgrown with lantana flowers and lemongrass. So, these were the first to go. I finally harvested the lemongrass and dried the leaves so that I could use them in teas and curries. I kept one of the lemongrass patches, however, and transplanted it into a larger pot.

The lantana flowers, as beautiful as they were, were beginning to annoy me, so I finally threw them away. I felt a little guilty, but I also felt satisfied; they had really taken over my patch.

After removing some debris, garbage, and diseased foliage, caterpillar poop, and a whole lot of other questionable things, I introduced a coleus plant, celosia flowers, mums, and some more herbs such as purple and green sage, barbecue rosemary, bouquet dill, Greek oregano, and hot and spicy oregano. I also planted some green oakleaf lettuce and transplanted the remainder of my chives and spearmint vines from pots into the back of the garden bed behind the pepperoncini and banana peppers.

Coleus (Center), Celosias, and more.

Believe it or not, the peppers are still producing, so I’m keeping them around until they die.

Now, this is all one great experiment because I am aware that if I’m not careful, the oregano, dill, and spearmint can grow out of control. I’m hoping that using woodchips will help control the growth of the herbs and prevent them from spreading out too far.

Also, instead of making the plants symmetrical like I did in the spring, I went for a more organic look. I feel more confident about crowding everything closer together since I successfully did this in my raised bed.

English thyme, Provence lavender, and bouquet dill.

All in all, I’m very satisfied with the final look: hews of orange, purple, scarlet, and amber dot the garden bed, and in between flowers, edible herbs burst with bright green leaves. I plan on waiting nearly until Thanksgiving for the herbs to settle and grow before I begin harvesting them. I want to create an untraditional bouquet garni for Thanksgiving.

Leaf Crops 10/11/2020

In addition to revamping the garden bed, I also fixed up the raised garden bed. The tomatoes stopped being productive, so I removed them all, cut back a whole lot of pineapple sage and basil, and filled the empty spots with Georgia collards, mustard, joi choi, red oakleaf lettuce, and green oakleaf lettuce.

Fresh greens in raised bed.

When I first transplanted the young greens, I was concerned about the slugs who ate my marigolds alive and would probably eat my greens too. So, I lined the perimeter of the garden bed with copper tape, which is supposed to react to their secretions and deter slugs from crossing into the bed. I was partially correct. Strangely yet thankfully, the lettuce remains untouched. Not even a hole. But, everything else from my collards to basil to joi choi to mustard has been getting eaten alive. But, it wasn’t the slugs. It was caterpillars.

If you see this, it’s caterpillar poop!

Underneath many of the basil leaves, I found clusters of what I thought were caterpillar eggs, but it was actually poop. Maybe the orange clusters were the eggs. I had to remove the leaves damaged by disease anyway, so I pruned my way through the garden bed.

A few days of rain later, and the bed looks a little better. The choi and collards are still growing, but there is still the occasional caterpillar.

That’s okay though. So long as they don’t eat all of my goods alive, I don’t mind sharing.

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