a fun season so far...
with the soil being fairly heavy here the
drought has been a challenge at times, but
we've kept up with watering well enough that
we are getting crops harvested (compared to
some neighbors in sandy light soil who are
not getting much at all). only a few
experimental plantings might not produce and
that is ok. failures encourage more learning.
with the rains and humidity returning
fungal damage is increasing, but i'm
hoping it will not be a major problem.
continuing to monitoring the situation...
the first crop was green manure (harvested
greens from alfalfa, trefoil, clovers, etc)
and weed trimmings that i've kept feeding the
worm bins. i've already returned about 300lbs
of refurbished soil (and thousands of worms)
to four gardens. soon i will get a chance
to see the results in one of the first two
gardens when i turn under the bolted lettuces
and replant. about 400lbs ready to go back
yet -- waiting for a cooler spell.
the spiral garden is the source for most
of the green manure. the spiral is a pattern
of alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil so there is
a smaller bright yellow flowering plant (the
trefoil) and the taller darker flowering
purple plant (alfalfa). can't really see
the purple from a distance as the flowers are
smaller, but it is very sweet to smell and
the bees love it. they like the trefoil too.
a bit ago i trimmed the spiral garden back
to simulate it being grazed. a few piles went
around the rhubarb, a bin was stuffed full for
worm farm food and the rest was scattered on
the surface and then watered in to encourage
the worms out there to feast. the alfalfa is
already recovered to a foot high. the clay is
improved a bit after this first full year. i've
left about 90% of the first year growth on the
soil instead of harvesting it all and leaving
not much behind. i'm expecting next year it
will grow even thicker as it's got an extra
nitrogen charge now compared to what it had
before. we shall see. it's been interesting
to watch up close.
the second crop of the season was rhubarb.
all that i had i gave away. much of it was
stung because i got to pulling it late. whatever
that was damaged that i could not use i buried
along with the leaves. about 50lbs harvested
and given away. the second cutting was much
nicer as i got it before the stingers could
recover -- with the drought it was only about
this rhubarb patch is being removed (i've
already started a different patch to harvest
from for next year) and divided up to give
away this fall. i'll let it grow out the
rest of the season.
the next crop was strawberries. my
first harvest season with the patch that
was established last year.
most of them i ate off the vine while
picking others to give away or make jam.
probably 40lbs total. no major bug or
fungus troubles. keeping the fruit picked
and cleaning up any parts that the chippies
left behind kept the little black beetles
from getting going. i saw one the whole
first harvest. as the summer has gone on
i've got some leaf curlers using the leaves
for making cocoon spaces. this doesn't
seem to harm the plant much so i'll keep an
eye on things there but leave them alone.
the whole patch needs a little thinning out
and i'm going to be potting up more runners
and transplants for expanding production
into the bean patch for next year. i'd like
to be able to put up enough fruit spread to
keep me supplied for a season or two just
in case there is a bad year.
the peas came in ok, but they were mixed
in with spinach and lettuces and didn't have
trellises to climb. we ate several meals of
pea pods and peas from these small patches
and i've harvested about a pound of dried
peas. the heat and drought turned down
production somewhat, the clay and shade from
the surrounding plants kept them from
giving up completely. there are pea plants
still going even now, but i'll be replanting
again as soon as i can hoping for some
fresh pods before the fall does the plants in.
i'm not sure how well they will do with the
squash plants but it's worth a try for a
few hundred seeds that have been grown for
free. if anything they will provide some
cover and more nitrogen.
the green and wax beans that are on the
inside perimiter of the strawberry patch
were initially eaten by grasshoppers. they
outgrew the damage and produced something
of a first harvest. in spite of the
predation, the drought and the heat. this
was only one of three patches of wax and
green beans, the others were not being
eaten so i left them alone to see what
would happen. they are now overshadowed
by the soybeans planted in the middle on
a hill so i'm not expecting much more from
them, but i'll leave them alone to be a
dry seed crop for next year.
the rest of the green and wax bean
patches produced enough beans to put up
eleven quarts of three bean salad that we
like so much. still plenty of blooms and
beans coming along. we'll see how it goes...
the other fifteen bean patches are mostly
doing ok. all are experimental to me in
different ways so it is very interesting
to see how they are all growing. the lentils
don't seem to be doing much. another patch
of kidney beans looks like it almost gave up,
but shows some signs if reviving. it looked
good last week. then we went away for a bit.
i like the pinto bean green beans for
munching upon. should harvest some and
steam them to see how they turn out that
ways too. the vines are going all over
the place. they make me laugh, like don't
turn my back or i'll have to be rescued
the lima beans are getting plenty of
light predation by japanese beetles on the
soybeans and some grasshopper damage in other
patches. no other major pests seen yet. the
birds are doing a good job of controlling the
grasshoppers in the new bean patches (where
the birdbaths are nearby). it having been so
dry for most of the beginning of the season
i've not seen much fungal damage either. the
ladybug population seems to be active and that
means i've not had any aphid troubles this
season at all.
thunder now. more rain. better get out
and get the cherry tomatoes picked for dinner.
be right back. first picking a few days ago
was about a quart, the second picking a few
minutes ago is a pint. plenty more on the
vine. sweet 100s. fully red they are garden
candy. i pick a mix of fully ripe to orange
ones as i like some with a bite.
regular tomatoes coming along nicely. not
only five tomato worms so far. not much
damage, we are catching them early enough.
during the dry spell we had raccoons decide
that the onions were planted in yummy eats
and dug some of them up. not much actual
damage to the bulbs as they were going for
the potting soil that the onions were started
in. it probably had some kind of fertilizer
that made it smell like food to them. in
the process they also trampled some others
so we've dug those up and have eaten them too.
it isn't likely going to be a banner onion
year, but we've planted enough so that even
if they are small they will still come through.
some seed heads are done flowering, but not
quite ripe yet to harvest the seeds. i hope
the goldfinches don't like onion seeds.
not sure what kind of a crop i'll get this
year. i thought with the work i did last season
in combination with the dry spring and summer
this year that it would break the cycle of
fungal attacks on this plant. no luck, no
joy. decided to replace the vine with one
more suitable and will redo the trellis as
the current arbor is wrong for the space too.
on the list of projects for next year.
doing well. it was as tall as i was until
the heavy rains and winds knocked it over. still
plenty of white flowers and seeds being formed.
this should increase my stock of seed from a few
ounces to a few pounds once harvested. then i
can use it as a cover crop in other locations as
needed where i want an annual instead of the
deeper rooted perennials.
seem to be ok. probably should start
pulling some soon.
grew them for my brother. we don't really
eat them. he never got most of them so they
are putting up nice white flower stalks now.
next year we plant something else we do
eat (more peas please!). no need to grow
things we don't use. good cover crop though
as it grows quickly and has nice wide leaves.