Monday, June 20, 2011

The annual garden

We didn't have much time this year to build up our annual garden area, but we did manage to put in a few crops and we worked on improving the soil.  Last year we prepared three beds by covering the grass with cardboard and adding soil and lots of horse manure in a frame of logs.  Those beds are very rich with loose soil now and were planted in garlic (softneck and elephant) last fall, then potatoes and lettuce this spring.  Here is a picture of half of our garlic crop that I am setting out to dry.

Last fall we had Ernest Connor, who did some of the excavation for our house, use his back hoe to loosen the soil in another area for additional garden space.  Our soil is very compacted and we thought this procedure might break up the hardpan about two feet down.  After Ernest loosened it up, we formed 7 more garden beds with paths in between, and added manure and organic nutrients.  These beds sat over winter and we planted them earlier this spring.  The organic nutrients consisted of 4 parts soy meal (for nitrogen), 1 part rock phosphate, 1/4 part each of agricultural lime and gypsum and 1/2 part dolomitic lime.  This is a formula I read about in Steve Solomon's book "Gardening When it Counts".

I got really excited about asparagus and ordered 100 crowns (50 Purple Passion, which is an all male variety, and 50 Jersey Giants).  The asparagus took up 4 of the 7 new beds!  It is doing really well, putting up lots of shoots, with some almost large enough to harvest.  However, I am not harvesting any until next year, to let strong roots develop.  In the other beds, we planted sugar snap peas, Swiss chard, rattlesnake beans, scarlet runners, and lots of peppers.  Here are some pictures.  Note the bluebird box with Dad on top with nesting material in his mouth.  They already have two kids this year and seem to be going for another round.  The bluebird family keeps watch over the garden.

The blue barrel collects overflow water from our spring and we use it to irrigate the garden.  In the middle picture you can see the compost piles in the background (framed by pallets).  After harvesting the garlic, dill, basil and cucumbers were planted in its place.

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