How does your garden grow?

It’s October! (Happy birthday Meg!) While people all over the U.S. are taking down their gardens as the weather turns cooler and the leaves are changing, here in Austin things are a little different.

Our leaves have started to drop, too, but it’s because they’ve finally given up the ghost after a long, hot summer. And on the garden front, I’m just getting started with planting for a fall garden. I’m putting in squash, beans, basil, cilantro, parsley, carrots, wildflowers, and sugar snap peas.

For me, the process started with finally getting rid of the scorched tomato plants that had wallowed all summer while I was away. After I cleared those out, I watered the bed to make it easier to turn and friendlier for planting. Note that my basil survived the summer. It’s been growing strong with the recent rain.


After water, the fundamental ingredient for gardens is in the nutrients. This year, I have my own homemade compost to use. For the past year my roommates and I have been composting our food scraps and yard waste. I was excited to get to finally use it this fall for the garden. I ended up with a pet door (don’t ask) to use as a screen for sifting and went to town. After a while of tedious work, I had two full wheelbarrows of compost.


So dark and rich! It still amazes me how this took minimal effort and it’s made of stuff we would have otherwise thrown out. Instead it’ll go on my garden and basically be turned back into food.


I spread the compost around and churned it into the existing soil which was pretty sad looking.


Finally, I planted some seeds and watered them all in. Unbeknownst to me at the time, we were in for a LOT of rain that week. I planted on Sunday and the rains came nonstop Monday through Friday. By Thursday afternoon, most of my beans had sprouted and some were already 6 inches tall.

With that kind of rapid growth I knew I had to act fast to set up trellises. This season, I’ve opted for a teepee-style made of dried bamboo we cut from the backyard. I’m hoping they’ll look super cool and that it’ll be easy to grow a lot of plants on them.


Another few weeks passed with more rain and my plants are still booming. I thinned the squash I had started and planted skips for peas, beans, and carrots. I also planted some cilantro and wildflower seeds, but those haven’t emerged yet.


Doesn’t look like much because things are still sprouting, but I have high hopes for this season. This is probably my favorite time of any growing season, when you can see the magic of seeds sprouting. The initial growth tends to be so rapid that it’s not unusual to be able to see changes overnight. That kind of immediate gratification makes it all the more rewarding.


5 thoughts on “How does your garden grow?

  1. Much as I love the New England fall, reading first Kate’s article on winter gardens in AZ and then yours on planting your fall garden, I must admit it is quite appealing. I’m amazed your seeds sprout so quickly. Keep us posted on how things grow–I see great salads and Southwesten dishes in your near future!
    P.S. Thanks for the birthday wish!


    • I’ll write a few more updates as the planting season progresses. There are compromises wherever you live, but it’s nice to travel around to the different regions to get a taste of it all. Luckily Brian lives in a place that has a real fall and I’m going back to Maryland soon, so I get a bit of both worlds.


  2. Oh, I know what you mean about compost! It is amazing stuff. Your garden looks great and I am glad that the fence Dad put up is serving you so well. Love the glass butterfly!


  3. From your fellow gardener — I am impressed by your garden, your composting, and your energy level. Like you, I am always in wonder at plants emerging from the ground, especially when I have had something to do with putting them there and particularly so when they are something edible. Keep on digging up the dirt, and if you’re not doing anything next spring, c’mon over.


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