October In the Tropical Urban Garden with Nik: Mérida Yucatan, Mexico

 in Garden

Welcome back – I hope you aren’t soaked through with all the new tropical storm rain. Let’s keep gardening or if you can’t get outside, at least planning. I have been known to weed the garden in the rain when I’m inpatient, however not during a tropical storm.

Above you see the garden bed I will plant with seedlings this October.

Last month (September) we planted our vegetable seedlings making sure to keep them safe from rain when needed which for me was a lot of the time. This month we will plant more vegetables, staggering the seeds for a longer crop harvest.

Remember, you can start your Yucatecan kitchen, vegetable garden any month from September-December for best growing conditions. Of course, you can also start any month you are ready the rest of the year too but your plants and seedlings will need more care and attention. In these month-by-month posts we will get into all the specifics you need like watering care in May when it’s hot and putting up sunshades of all sorts (including how to use trees).  Every topic in it’s time, right now we are avoiding  the rain and about to plant more tomatoes.

Luckily for us October normally has better weather and a slight reduction of pests and mold. We should continue to spray every week or every other week as prevention, but even the mosquitos will start to thin out a little bit. 

What’s Happening in the Garden 

October brings planting more seeds and transplanting the ones we seeded last month.
I will also be harvesting my MILPA towards the end of the month and depending on how things go, I then direct compost the beds at the end of October or early November to be planted with leafy greens by December/January. We haven’t talked about dormant beds and cover crops yet, but we will get to both of those topics too sometime in this year long month by month. If it’s your first year gardening don’t worry about either, compost well and plant every single one of your garden beds full up.

The pumpkins I plant in June/July are being harvested in October (and often sooner depending on the variety I planted.) My second mung bean planting also get harvested in October having been reseeded under the corn in August they are mature in 45-52 days. The second planting isn’t only good for my harvest the plants help keep the corn standing up and add nitrogen back into the soil.

I can harvest like this a little at a time throughout the year because I plan ahead at least 3-4 months  and stagger my seeds. 

Why you should stager your seeding
I usually plant 5 tomatoes in September, and 2-3 more each month thereafter until February.
This is a form of seed staggering to elongate my growing season. Because we are blessed with eternal summer, Yucatecan tomatoes can last much of the rains if planted during the right times. Because of the long growing season we want to plan for some tomatoes each month instead of all the plants maturing at the same time. Tomatoes plants when properly cared for can last 6-9 months from the time of first seed germination to last fruit. The bulk of your harvests will begin about 3-4 months after the seed first germinates. 

The same seed staggering goes for hearty leafy greens (which can grow a whole year or more depending on the plant, so place them accordingly) Lettuces are much faster and are usually harvested at 40-60 days meaning you should reseed them every single month. Mustard greens and chards usually have around a 3 month life cycle depending on how bitter you like them. 

Various chili peppers that can last 3-5 years if you love them right. So try to find out how long your specific habaneros or Jalapenos actually live. Don’t worry if you aren’t successful right away! I’ve only gotten as far as 15 months with a pepper plant, but I’m trying to learn more to keep them happy long term. Plant peppers 1-2 times the year depending on your family. 

More on seed staggering here

Lastly don’t forget your spray schedule and regular gardening maintenance.
Every Saturday I plan to do my upkeep. It takes me about an hour but sometimes I spend more time in the garden just because I like it. If you keep up with your garden chores a little at a time, something like 10 minutes of weeding a day will keep your garden clean. I only have time on the weekends and it’s why I plan it that way.

Maintenance usually involves:
Pulling weeds.
Tying up or trellising any plants who need it.
Removing dead leaves or ready harvests.
Adding Mulch or ground cover.
Spraying for pests and mold.
Pruning and shaping plants.
Compost turning and tea fertilizer making.

In October I analyze my bushes, trees, lemongrass and other herbs. They usually get rather big and uncontrolled during the raining season and I have to cut back a lot of things. If it’s still raining a lot I try to wait until things dry out. If you trim trees during the rainy season they are more prone to rot on the open cuts. 

What I’ll plant in October
Saplings cut from my trees and bushes
Kale, Arugula, Bok Choy and other greens/lettuce
Carrots, beets and other root veggies
And of course, FLOWERS! 

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