I have now finished digging out the entire area of my veggie patch, and it is all planted too. I have learned a few things from this process, not least of which is that raised beds are probably the answer here in the low deserts of the southwest. It really has been hard, and back breaking work, but I now feel a great sense of achievement that it is done. It has been my plan for several years and it is great to see it finally come to fruition.
A few days ago in the new space I planted snow peas, leeks, spinach, more cabbage, carrots, (I am hoping to have more luck with this lot), nasturtiums, kale, dill, and cilantro. It will be a bit of a tight fit if they all grow but I will worry about that when the time comes.
I also discovered that my brassica's were being munched on. It seems that I have a few more caterpillar visitors, though not the enormous Sphinx Moth kind. I am afraid to say I wasn't as nearly benevolent towards these ones and picked off most that I could see. I also discovered a severe infestation of aphids which I took care of with a mixture of water, a little cooking oil, and dishwashing liquid, (the non petroleum derived type), all mixed together and sprayed on the offending pests. I got the recipe from the great book Extreme Gardening, which along with the equally helpful low desert planting and harvesting guide from The Urban Farm, has been my garden bible this year. It seems to have worked and there doesn't seem to be any long term damage. I will keep a closer eye on everything from now on.
We are still getting lots of zucchini's and cucumbers. Despite eating pounds of the things we have too many to use so I have been sharing them with friends. This has given me a ridiculous sense of pride I am afraid. I had very low expectations of this years crops so I am quietly pleased.
Lots of the other veggies still need to grow and mature so I will see if my beginners luck holds out. I need to think about frost cloth before the nights get really chilly and I am caught out. I have a lot of old sheets and I think they will probably do just fine, and be in line with my compacting life. I have been reading about microclimates, and I suspect my little east facing garden will stay warmer than other areas of the yard would. It is also enclosed by walls that get lots of sun during the day and I am sure they will retain heat at night. I will have to experiment and see.
Our lovely Sphinx Moth caterpillars have gone. They weren't there one morning last week when we went to check on them, and I suspect that they have buried themselves to await spring, and their metamorphosis. We do miss them.