Sunday, June 28, 2015

So How Does Your Garden Grow? - 28 June 2015 Edition

You may remember back in April that I cleared some additional gardening space:






What has happened in the intervening 2.5 months?




Turns out that compost is loaded with all kinds of good things which are just waiting for the excuse to grow.

From my initial planting most of my actual things did not take:  alfalfa, rye, even wheat all turned out to be busts (I truly blame the fact that I did not plant until April).  What I got instead were two kinds of pumpkins, cantelopes, tomatos, and some corn.  The actual corn I planted got stunted but is finally coming up (it got overrun by a pumpkin plant).  The one true success at this point ssems to be the sweet sorghum, which is that large clump near the back.

You will notice a bare spot in the middle.  Yesterday I cleared out the remains of a dying pumpkin plant (pumpkins, in these parts, appear to be up and done by this time of the year - heat, I suppose) and planted three kinds of beans and a couple of okra plants to supplement the few I planted earlier that had been nibbled upon (but are now moving forward).  Also doing well but not pictured are two tomato plants and a Jalapeno plant.  My final finish in another area was all the Black-eyed peas I could plant.  I will try and plant some hot weather greens in a planter and that will be the garden until fall.

Having this new (and suprisingly productive) area is changing my perspective of how I want to garden moving forward.  All of a sudden, the back area against the fence - my original garden which is semi-shaded by a neighbor's oak - holds out the promise of becoming my part time grain growing area.  I love growing grains but they always bleed into the spring when I should be planting and then the garden bleeds over to the fall when I should be planting.  Quite possibly this problems will elminate itself (although I still need to work on what grains I can grow here).  This new area - no more than 3' x 23' or 69 sq feet (6.41 sq meters if the old hand calculations still work) - gets every hour that the sun is up in the sky with no concern of trees ever.  Square foot gardening indeed.  Mel Bartholomew would be proud.

There are still lots of things to play with, of course.  Crop mix is a large one - growing here instead of Old Home, I am having to re-educate myself on what grows well and what does not (for the record so far, Black-eyed peas, peppers, okra, pumpkings, and possibly sweet sorghum are winners.  Tomatos continue to remain in the "maybe" category).  And my apparent success with one smaller area make me thing that some raised beds just downhill of this intial bed may increase my production a great deal.

But one thing at the time.  This is by far the most success I have had in six years.  Now to just water, weed, watch - and plot for the future.

10 comments:

PioneerPreppy said...

Looking good and keep trying. Finding what grows best in your place is half the battle I think. Of course as soon as you think you have it figured out the weather goes extreme on ya and all.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Thanks Preppy. I am a little pleased. The weather plays a larger role than I anticipated - for example, without the rains we received I doubt the pumpking would have done so well. For me, water is always going to be a concern so I need to figure out better ways to conserve the water I have and use it effectively. I am reading Gene Logsdon's "The Contrary Farmer's Invitation to Gardening" and he is talking a great deal about mulch. Much to glean and keep trying on.

kymber said...

TB - we originally started gardening back in ottawa. the first thing we did was order 6 cubic feet of triple-mulched-mushroom dirt. jam put the dirt in all of the tires and i just chucked seeds willy-nilly. well, for the next 6 years we were vegetable growing kings! then we came to our island - totally different weather, lots of salt air and horrible dirt!!! we were able to get some crappy top-soil for our first year garden and ammended it with comfrey and seaweed. it was kind of ok. but man - the things we learned!

we were gardening kings in the city because we started with such good dirt! i could grow anything back in ottawa - it was pretty impressive! but here - we have learned more and more each year and gardening here is completely different! always a challenge but so much fun to learn!

i am glad that you are trying different things to see what works and what doesn't...and glad to hear that you are thinking of adding more beds! congrats on all that you have grown and all that you will grow in the future!

your friend,
kymber

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Thank you Kymber! My first two gardening experiences were just like yours: excellent existing soil or purchased topsoil, perfect sun exposure, etc. I tried my previous ways here and completely bottomed out the first year. Part of my problem was trying to resolve my own thick-headedness to consider the fact that it might not work that way in a totally different climate. Still learning, which is a good thing both because it is valuable to learn and because it still means my mind is pliable.

Lhiats, TB

John Wooldridge said...

Looking good TB and you can be certain that there is always something new to learn about gardening. You know I'd be looking at that expanse of grass and thinking about what could be done there ;-)

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Thanks John! The idea suddenly popped into my head this morning about using this space for something like flowering plants - I like lavender, for example, and can use a whole lot more of it in my life. There are lavender farms with 90 minutes of here so the climate works. A micro lavender farm? Never thought of it before today...

songbird said...

Have you investigated a keyhole bed (a form of raised bed)? seems to me to be an efficient use of garden space. Also, can you capture the gray water from your washing machine to use to irrigate your garden?

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I have not yet, Songbird. Just looked up Keyhold bed - what an interesting concept! At the moment am probably already way ahead of myself in terms of using what I have more effectively.

As to gray water, no, not yet. I think that would take a little more doing (we're on a slab so it would have to be a manual recapture process out of the drain) and the unresolved issue for me is the amount of residual detergent in the water. For the moment (I think) the higher value activity is heavier mulching activities (something I have not really done effectively here) and rain water recapture.

John Wooldridge said...

Now that sounds like a plan....mmmm how about a 'knot garden' using lavender as the filling between low interlocking and crisply cut hedges?

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

So I tried that once upon a time. Something to reconsider, although unfortunately much to the chagrin of The Ravishing Mrs. TB, I am not much of a "crisply cut hedges" sort of guy - more of a "what is minimum amount of work I can do" sort of guy...