Thursday, May 23, 2013

Garden Notes 5/23/13

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     Things move so fast this time of year.  A round of rain followed by warm weather has stimulated a lot of growth everywhere, from the trees down to the grass.  We are finally seeing some pollinators buzzing about, though they seem pretty sparse so far.  Mason bees and bumble bees mostly, though I have seen at least one honey bee, some wasps, and  some flies.

     After a few weeks of leaving our seedlings outside for incrementally longer periods each halfway decent day we had, we have managed to harden them off.  They stay on the porch in the shelter of the railing all day and night now.  A little bit of sunburn on the pepper plants but other wise looking pretty good.

      Our wood filled swale with lasagne on top rain garden is doing quite nicely.  It has barely sunk at all.  The hens and chicks along the rocks came back and then some.  We are starting to get it planted with some Amish Paste tomatoes, Liatris, daffodils, lavender, spinach, garlic, and strawberry spinach.  I had seeded the entire thing with white clover last fall.  Interestingly it all washed off and germinated on the other side of the rock border at the edge of the driveway.  It makes a nice lush green carpet, I kind of like it even though it wasn't intended.

     The new hugel-swale thingy is planted with Amish Paste tomatoes (SSE), Orange Bell Peppers (SSE), lettuce, celosia, parsley, basil, along the South side(above); and goji berries, strawberries, cilantro, borage, liatris, comfrey, and celosia along the East side.  We have been watering this new bed in as we have not had a lot of rain up until yesterday. 

     The big box on the porch is just starting to go.  I planted peas, lettuce, and spinach but apparently ma nature did some planting too.  I'm not sure what is what quite yet but there will need to be some thinning done on this bed.

     The three square foot gardens we installed two years ago are still in good shape other than a little greying of the wood, even the one made from untreated pine 2x6.  We are going to remove that one at some point, hopefully this year, and replace it with an herb spiral, so we will get to see how much rot is on the inside of the box.  The other two we will use for now until we re-do the entire area into a series of keyhole beds.  The bed shown above has peas, sage, and kale.  I guess I missed some garlic last year, because it came back unexpectedly.  

     I had heard somewhere that garlic has is allelopathic towards the beneficial bacteria that support peas.  And indeed the plant that is growing right on top of a bulb is stunted.  But I find it interesting that the plants that are just a few inches away are doing just as well as the peas in the other bed with no garlic.  I may let this go for a while just to see what happens.

     We are going to keep the lasagna beds out of the chicken paddock/food forest development for this year as they are so doing so well.  That is despite the total lack of maintenance as  I have neglected to cut the edges or do any weeding.  It's hard to find the motivation when I know it will be a forest soon.  Still, there are some pretty cool thing going on.

     I think it is going to be a good year for strawberries.  We will need to put the netting up soon as the berries are just starting to form.  I have decided to let the dandelions live in peace as they have a deep tap root that doesn't compete with the shallow plants and indeed can help them by bringing Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper, Silicon to the surface that are deep out of reach for most plants. [source: Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway]

     We have pretty much stopped harvesting asparagus and let it leaf out.  We may need to thin out the hollyhocks if they get as large as the one plant we had here last year.

     The raspberries are looking good.  So is the wild mulberry that came up on it's own on the end.  We are letting it come up for now and it looks like we will see it's first fruit this year.

     Finally we are having some success with our bing cherry tree.  We got two of them as gifts from Nikki's dad and between not getting them in the ground soon enough, poor soil, and a really bad year for japanese beetles, neither one survived.  We managed to get one back in time for the warranty and stuck the replacement in the end of one of the lasagna beds.  Garlic on one side and lupines on the other with a spattering of dandelions all around make  the beginnings of a guild for this little guy.  Last year it was looking pretty sad, but after pruning off the dead wood this winter it is looking lush with new growth.

     Since cherries can't self pollinate, Nikki picked up a sour cherry that she noticed was flowering at the same time as our Bing.  We got it in just a day before what I hope was the last frost of the season knocked out all the blossoms.  Still, there are a few fruit forming around where the branches meet the trunk, so I guess they are compatible.   The Sour cherry is now part of the new walnut guild Nikki is working on up in the side yard.

     Rhubarb, peas, and gardener's delight cherry tomatoes make up the rest of the bed with the cherry tree so far.  The middle bed has onions, some self seeded lettuce, strawberry spinach, garlic, and a gooseberry on the end.

     The strawberry spinach and garlic seem to get along great.  Soft neck garlic on the left, hard neck on the right.

     In the large bed, the garlic I put in last fall is doing great.  Sadly most of the potato onions have died out.  I guess it isn't a very good idea for me to get seed from a seed company in a warmer  southern climate.  The middle has row yet to be planted.  The row on the other end is planted with broccoli, cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts from seed but either old seed or not enough moisture have given us only a few sprouts so far.  

     Up next to the barn where the chickens tore apart several bales from their winter coop I decided to try an experiment in straw bale gardening.  I'm not adding kelp meal and all that stuff.  This is simply a raked up pile of hay that likely has some small quantity of chicken poop and feathers mixed into it and topped off with a generous pile of mushroom compost.  So far I only have a couple of cherry tomatoes in it.  If nothing else it covers the bare ground where we had the chickens over winter.

First lupine of the season starting to bloom

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