Monday, April 23, 2012

Garden 2012: A New Hope, Or Something

After 10 minutes of clean-up
 I'd like to think that I'm good with plants.  I've worked with plants for most of my life and I feel like "I get them."  So that makes it incredibly tough to be wrong.

My 2011 garden was not amazing.  It won another "most beautiful garden" competition, which was awesome, but last year's drought and stinkbugs sure made it tough, and several important plants didn't meet basic expectations.   Hank was about 22 months old  at summer's peak and he didn't make it any easier.   As I planted winter cover crops last September, I figured, "Next year will be easier."

The rabbits and rats ate my fall/winter cover crop (a mix of field peas and oats), and when I replanted the cover crop, the critters ate the seeds and seedlings again.  It was so bad that I didn't bother with a full planting of winter/spring greens.  In December, Hank and I spread a layer of straw over the garden to try to help protect it from spring weeds. I visited again in February, and everything seemed okay.

Our community garden changed the gate's padlock on March 1st, and it took me almost 6 weeks to get a new key from the garden coordinator. I finally got out to the garden last weekend.  What a mess.

After one hour of cleanup
In addition to record high temperatures creating ideal growing conditions for garden weeds, we are now into the fourth week of a real drought here in the Mid-Atlantic.  Even my supple, loose no-till soil has become blocky and hard to work.    Eventually, it will pass.  I think.  Here's what I'm planning for the garden in 2012:

  • add in small scale drip irrigation, gravity fed.  Never seen this in action, but finally found directions online for building a system.
  • repeating several of 2011's successful crops
  • planting heavy summer cover crops - in case Hank's schedule prevents me from spending big chunks of time in the garden. 

Finally, my garden helper showed up.  He is undocumented and works for cheap.

After another hour of work, the garden started to look like a garden again:
garden 4-21-12a

Here's last year's garden (below), and I hope we can do even better this year. Seems nearly impossible at this moment, but given a little more rain and some good plants, maybe it'll turn a corner.


The Reverend Fowl ™ said...

Looks great. Is there stuff popping up from last year, onions?

cofisher said...

Great looking garden. Your helper looks like he can handle the work, so good for you. My biggest problem is rabbits and vols. They're eating me out of house and home.

Mike said...

Nice. Can you send me a link to that drip system?

Kirk Mantay said...

Mike, check your FB. I'm having trouble finding the 3/4 - 1/4 adapter with the screen. I have the buckets, and the drip line is on the way (ebay 100' of dripline for 5 bucks). Need the inline drippers (easy to find) and I guess the terminal drippers (haven't looked but should be easy to find) and that should be it. My plot is 10-ish by 30 and I am trying it with 4 buckets.

Kirk Mantay said...

Garlic, leaf lettuce, a few red onions that didn't pop last year, and Egyptian walking onions (should have never agreed to that). All of it is stuff planted last fall. Only thing "new" in the ground are some new potatoes.

Kirk Mantay said...

Rabbits tore up my lettuce last year but they haven't found me yet this year. The voles look like they ate the roots off of the lavender bushes ?????? Whatever.

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