Merry or contrary? How does your garden grow?Submitted by fishyculture on Sun, 03/10/2013 - 06:59
Spring fever. I have a window full of starts and a yard full of snow. Itchy digits longing for dirt under the nails must settle for keyboard under the fingers. Lets talk "garden."
Do you love to plant but dread the harvest? I got a little sick of canning and freezing and dehydrating like a mad woman all summer and fall. AP lets me harvest year round, as I need it. I will still do some food preservation, but having fresh produce year around makes it a more manageable task. I also live in the desert, so the water conservation aspect is very important to me.
Do you have to water all the time too, but are not ready to try AP? Have you heard of "wicking beds?" I have never tried them, but may give it a go this summer. It looks like a great idea. Essentially, you line a raised bed in plastic, poke an overflow hole in near the bottom. Wind some drainage pipe around the bottom, then bring one end to the top. Put a layer of non-organic drainage material to cover the pipe, then screen cloth or fibrous mulch to make a dividing layer between your gravel / sand and dirt layers. Next add your dirt and plant it. You water through the exposed end of the drain pipe until you see water come out the overflow. Supposedly, the plants will wick water from the bottom for a week or more. It appeals to me as a way to keep voles out of my garden, also. You will need to put a cut off plastic water or pop bottle over the open end of the drain pipe or critters will get into the bed through the pipe.
Do you have nasty soil? I had one garden that was a nutrient depleted weed patch. In one year, I transformed it using deep mulch. Nothing expensive. I got cardboard boxes and covered the ground with them then spread straw over them, about 6 inches deep. I watered it down, and deliberately did the project in the rainy season so it would keep getting watered. Within days, I had worms, beetles, fungi - workhorses of the dirt reporting for duty. By fall, my soil looked and smelled like dirt again.
Do you plant the same thing, year after year? Have you considered looking at some perennial edibles? One of the things we really like about the food forest concept is the use of self-sowing and perennial plants. By using heirloom seed, and depending on your local climate, you may be able to have things like spinach and lettuce that volunteer year after year and naturalize into an edible yard.
Trying anything unusual? We want to grow goji berries, but the voles got to them last year. I have one shrub left that might still be alive, should know in a few weeks. This year I am trying tobacco - little tiny sprouts showed up in my tray yesterday. I am encouraged, but have never been good at the "seedling" phase. I cannot seem to find the happy medium between parched and damped off.
Plagued by pests? In our area, deer are one of the biggest problems. I discovered this utterly disgusting brew recommended by Sepp Holzer that he calls "bone sauce" and the deer did not bother my baby fruit trees at all. It is supposed to work for ten years! Of course, the voles dug down under where I treated and ate the roots off underground... so I lost most of them anyway. I would still recommend the sauce against deer. When we get around to our "food forest" planting, we will use mulch and such to try to change the environment to one the voles do not like, and hope that will reduce the population to a more reasonable number. For now, I will enclose my entire garden area in bird net, including going a foot underground beneath the bed.
One thing I noticed that I found fascinating... My little vole garden from last year is a small patch on a south facing slope. The entire slope is still snow covered, except my garden spot where I had heavily mulched. It is all thawed out and the soil is warming up. Next year, I plan to have a little hoop-house cold frame, I think I could get a 6 week head start by mulching in the fall and planting under protection in the early spring.
So, merry or contrary, how does your garden grow?