Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Labor Day in an Austin Urban Garden – Bittersweet September 5, 2011

Finally, the weather has returned to normal, and it is feeling downright Fall-like this morning.  I have no idea if it will last.  While I was anxious to get outside with my coffee, seeds and shovel, I was glued to the television news, with images of the Steiner Ranch fire, the Bastrop fire, the Pflugerville fire.  Having gotten the updated information, I headed outside with my coffee and commenced planting.  First, I planted the seed potatoes I got from Boggy Creek Farm yesterday.  They were well endowed with roots already, and acclimated to our area and certainly organic, having come from a local farm.

Seed Potatoes and coffee

Carol Ann advised, “no additional nitrogen or they’ll burn up.”  Check that, no nitrogen until they come up and get established, then I”ll side dress with a little compost or 8-2-4.

As enjoyable as the morning was, with the cooler temperatures, every gust of wind reminded me of my friends, either evacuated from their homes, or glued to the television for news of where the fires would turn next.

I planted the potatoes in a 4×4 foot space, as always, then in the next two feet, I planted carrots, and the next two feet, I planted green beans.   This particular 4×8′ bed gets some dappled shade in the heat of the afternoon.  I planted everything fairly deep, to give the seeds a bit of additional time to sprout, in case the heat returns.


In a 4×4 section of the big bed, I planted broccoli seeds, in the space next to where strawberries will go in December.  As much as I was enjoying digging in the dirt again, I decided to wait to plant the sugar snap peas.  I think I might plant some lettuce in a big pot on the patio and see what the weather does before seeding a big space in the raised bed.

It was a pleasant morning in the garden, but this will be memorable Labor Day, as drought threatens our landscape, and wildfires rage out of control all around.   People are losing homes.   I fear that folks don’t realize how many trees we will lose – there are already dying trees all over the city.  It is a scary time and we really need rain badly.


3 Responses to “Labor Day in an Austin Urban Garden – Bittersweet”

  1. GardeninATX Says:

    Are you putting any type of shade cover over your new plantings (other than afternoon dappled shade)? I also planted seed potatoes, leftover from Spring, on Labor Day. They had all sprouted in the fridge.

    This past weekend, I put in one row of carrot seeds and a few swiss chard seeds. I’m afraid with the return of over 100 degree heat, I may have killed everything. The soil is going bone-dry in between watering early morning and evening – even with everything being mulched down in organic compost. This morning I covered the potatoes and seed rows with some thin, off-white fabric, hoping to reduce the soil temps and hold some moisture. It may be too late. Just wondering how you’re coping with the heat and dryness on these early winter-plantings.

    We’ll keep our fingers crossed, yes?

    • I have not been putting shade cover on the new plantings. I risked the hot weather coming back, and as you know it did. My carrots came up on Sunday, and I fear died yesterday in the 105 degree heat. I planted my potatos deep, hoping to give them some rooting time before they appear above the surface, which they have not. My soil is going bone dry between waterings as well – raised beds are not great for this weather. I’m just going to keep planting and hoping the heat goes away for good soon. I may still plant some lettuce in a pot under the shade of the pecan tree on my patio.

      I think keeping fingers crossed is about all we can do at this point. Good luck.

      • GardeninATX Says:

        Awww, I’m sorry about your carrots. I’m afraid mine aren’t even going to germinate. My gameplan is to plant one row every weekend through October. If the first few rows fry, then I guess I can start again.

        I think we’re all just chomping at the bit to get our fall/winter veggies started in an abnormal year. That beautiful first week of September was such an irresistable temptation.

        Last winter I had the loveliest and most tasty Buttercrunch lettuce. I let it bolt in April/May and saved the seeds. Maybe I’ll try a few in starter trays this week, instead of direct-seeding. After a couple of morning sun hours, I may bring them in the house.

        Yes, good luck to you too, and to all of us drought garden warriors!

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