Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Garden Frenzy, and Garden Writing in General

I'm growing to love lavender hyssop
Writing about gardening is a funny thing.  For starters, unless you have bred a new cultivar or grown something where it was previously believed impossible, basically nobody will read what you write.  I've read some of the classic gardening "narratives," and By God, they are awful.   "Erstwhile, today we hast planted many seeds, which led me to reflect on the words of the Nicene Creed.."  Just....yikes.

But I enjoy gardening, and from a sustainability standpoint, I think that knowing how to grow our own food is a pretty important skill.   In fact, our population (as a species) probably didn't grow much at all until we began growing food, instead of running all over the earth chasing food.

Goldenrod isn't blooming yet, so this
Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (a predator of garden pests)
is just hanging out on my parsley instead
So what's been going on in my garden?  It's been a unique year for pests, first of all.  The usual suspects (cutworms) didn't visit, but the slugs and grackles sure did.    My garden is fully no-till which means it has a wood chip mulch on top to keep weed seed away.  Well, that mulch slowly rots, providing perfect slug habitat.  Then I go and pop a pepper plant into the ground, and it becomes slug food, too.  However, I added some iron phosphate slug pellets (totally natural) from the local farmer's supply store, and it looks like they are laying off.  These are small garden slugs, not those big gigantic things.

Grackles, on the other hand, have destroyed 2 plantings of carrots and my first planting of sunflowers.  Stay tuned.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the growing season, little Hank's level of insanity and tendency to run off with little to no warning was a cue to me that I needed to garden differently this year.  There'd be little time to tinker about with individual specimen plants, in other words.  This summer, almost half of the garden is under some cover crop or another, which both cuts my food production and my workload in half.  That's okay for the time being.

Spilomiya hoverfly on lavender hyssop

I am experimenting with gravity-fed irrigation, which I'll be blogging about soon, and I've thrown a couple new species of plants in the mix as well.  The spring's warm, dry temperatures brought early blooms all around.  I wasted a lot of lettuce that bolted during March's 90 degree days.  Now my potatoes are blooming! In early June!  Peppers and tomatoes are already following suit - hopefully it's a long productive season.

Here's a bit of a chronosequence on the garden's progress this spring, starting from the most recent photo.

June 10

May 26

May 19

May 4
April 15

April 1
Circa February 1st
You see? There's always hope!


biobabbler said...

=) I was thinking the same thing about blogging about my garden. Unless I'm relating some comic disaster, it's mostly crickets. But, that's fine, and I'm 100% with you re: important skills for sustainable living, independence, and jeeze, you have land, why not freakin' grow food, goofball? =)

You just made me realize I need to throw a bunch of camouflaging pine needles over where I recently planted sunflowers. The jays have been EVERYwhere, of late.

Nice work on your garden! =)

Mike Sepelak said...

My good friend and writing acquaintance has an excellent gardening blog.


e.m.b. said...

This is my first year trying a garden at 7,750 ft. Tomatoes are in buckets I have to bring in at night or else they shiver. ;) Robins ate my cucumber sproutlings. Pepper plants and zucchini are A-ok. I'm learning though, and am very interested in the gravity-fed irrigation. It's very dry up here, and by next year, I think I need to get some sort of rain-water-collecting-irrigation thing going. Lots to learn. And for the record, I enjoy your garden posts immensely!

LB @ Bullets And Biscuits said...

Your garden looks great! We've harvested 3 sweet peppers so far and I hope it is the beginning of a long productive season too! I have lots of plans for them, haha.

cofisher said...

Interesting post. My wife does the garden around our place, but I love gardens! Watching our handiwork sprouting and blooming are some of life's pleasures.

argosgirl said...

I love reading gardening posts! I really need to go with the no-till garden but I always seem to get through the year without adding mulch.

My tomato plants are growing like crazy, the lettuce seems to be doing well, the onions and corn are a little slow.

I've heard of a lot of people having problems with slugs this year and carrots seem to be the impossible crop. My nemesis this year has been a rabbit that ate several of my plants up to a certain height.

Great post - I'd love to read about the gravity-fed irrigation.

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