Wednesday, June 4, 2008
It's Garden Time!
It’s a busy time here. After Memorial Day is the unofficial time when the last frost is past and the plants I started and the direct seeds need to go into the garden. My upper garden which is the one that was here when I got here a few years ago is already full, and I’m spreading out to the newer patches.
In my upper garden, back in April, I put in yellow and red onion seeds plus a mixed greens patch. I never have the rights sized patch for salad. Either there is a ton and it doesn’t get eaten or not enough, and there is just enough for nibbling a leaf here and there. Right now I have a nibble sized patch of lettuce, but I have more greens planted in the ends of some of the rows.
The most recent additions to the upper garden were some more red onions -- sets this time to have some ready sooner, Cosmonaut Volkov tomatoes, three kinds of carrots, some cabbages and broccoli which actually survived, momotaro and roma tomatoes, lettuces, spinach, a couple varieties of cucumber, peas, bush beans, popcorn, and a few hills of gourds. One of the gardening books I read (can’t remember which one) showed a layout for the garden that included little hills around the edges for melons and gourds which I think is a good idea, because I have a lot of melons started and putting things like that in the middle of the garden, when space is a premium, is kind of silly. The idea would be that you just need enough dirt for the roots, and the vines and fruit can take off and run out into the yard. I can deal with not having to mow a little right around the garden.
My “three sisters” garden is actually progressing well. I caught some of the fish myself, and had kind of a nasty afternoon braining carp and then cutting them up to put in the hills. Carp are hard to kill outright, and I don’t like to leave them gasping, so things were pretty gory. And there are reflexes and nerves in a carp that have nothing to do with whether or not that fish is actually alive. I’ll just leave it at that.
Anyway, my brother in law would fish a puddle, and when I asked for fish, I got fish, and I only need enough fish for about seven or eight more hills of corn. Which is just an hour or fishing and a little bit of digging, and phase one will be over.
In my upper garden by the house, things generally get left alone, but down below, I lost every single pumpkin I planted to critters and birds last year. I was concerned about birds being able to peck out the corn as soon as I planted it, and I also want to make a sunflower forest up in the unused half of the newly turned garden. I battled animals over the sunflower seeds, too. The corn and fish plan seems actually to be going quite well, though, as I put the fish down about six inches and really heaped the dirt over top. When I planted the corn, I shoved it in as far as my thumb. It seems to be germinating, even with being a little deeper than the recommended planting depth. But then again, I also have short thumbs. So far, the only animal that has tried to dig the fish out is my naughty little dog Sally Ann who has an affinity for stink which cannot be stopped!
My lower garden with the strawberry rows is probably as big as my upper garden after having expanded it a couple of times and consolidated the berries. The berries should be in their prime right now, but the honey berries which were supposed to be so great have been unproductive and disappointing. The row of “sparkle” strawberries is really full of blossoms, and in a week or two, I’m going to cover the row with bird netting. The robins did a number on them last year. I already have the currants covered. Barring drought or too many bad animals, I should have a ton of berries this year. I’m also pinching back the grape vines which came through their aggressive pruning this spring very well, thank you. There should be only one bunch per little stem, and there are at least two on every stem and sometimes three or four. the bunches really look like little bunches of grapes, just about an inch long.
My trouble with the blackberries is continuing, however. They were started to get blossoms and green up and look like they were also going to have a great year. Then, there were a wilted looking patch which came out with bright, bright orange color on the underside. This was on both the fruiting canes from this year and the new canes which are just coming up. I’m baby-sitting my niece and nephew these last few weeks of the school year, and I’m not home enough to keep an eye on things minutely, so I just chopped the orange canes down.
it turns out I did the right thing. My encyclopedia of organic gardening says that is called, surprisingly enough, orange rust, and the only way to get rid of it is to burn out the plants, even the roots. I haven’t gotten to the roots yet, and I’m closely watching the rest of the patch to make sure the disease hasn’t spread.