Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finally got the timing (sort of) right...

Planting at the right time has always been hit and miss for me. This year I think it more or less hit it...which of course means that next year is still up for grabs as every year is different.

The tell-tale indicator has been yield. We've enjoyed good sequencing of plantings and, consequently, of harvests as well. Two plantings of the same thing spaced two weeks apart and in the same basic spot in the garden is a great way to extend yields. We've enjoyed two crops of cucumbers, at least four of beans, three of greens, etc.

For some things, like basil, even just getting a single crop in early, thereby allowing time for recovery and re-harvest works well. With leafy stuff like that, how you harvest and maintain also makes a different. Pinching back buds encourages robustness. Ample water keeps basil from bolting too soon (annuals bolt when stressed....they feel the need to reproduce and keep their DNA from simply disappearing). So, this year we've had one huge basil harvest and are about to do we've grazed like crazed Italians in between!

The raised winter garden also went forward in a timely fashion. Leeks, peas, collards, kale, spinach, beets, and broccoli are all up now and looking strong enough to survive well into the fall months. With luck (even without cover) we'll enjoy these at least through November. The addition of cover next month (with luck) will take us through February.

And then, we'll be seeding for spring again.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Food In Small Places

I kept puzzling about how I might use this small strip about 4 feet wide and 12 feet long which lines my alleyway behind the main garden. The strip gets some sun, but not alot. The soil was poor and somewhat stoney too, but I settled on making it a potato bed and sheet-mulched it over before adding another foot or so of soil.

All important places require names, so I've dubbed this one the Dan Quayle (sp?) Spuds for Spelling Bed!

This photo was taken about a month ago. By now in mid May, these starts are alreadly about knee high. I'll have potatoes within another 3o days or so.

I'm finding an increasing number of amazing small places where I can tuck delicious things. For these spaces, it's not so much about a crop as it is about making treats for individual meals. It's also nice just to do drive-by munching on some of them while I'm out working.

There's almost no such thing as not enough space to garden.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Pleasures of Propagation

Each year in my garden, I've been thrilled to experience a little more of the garden beginning to take care of itself. One of the ways that happens is when a desired species self-propagates. It's funny how it actually works that way.

Not to take a thing away from all of the wonderful people with calloused hands and permanent nail-dirt I've purchased starts from, but the bottom line is that healthy plants make their own offspring. It's a sure sign of a maturing garden when you start to keep your own seed from year to year and produce your own cuttings.

It's cheaper too!

Early this season I was delighted to discover a dozen or so Red Flowering Currant starts that had tunneled down from low branches and rooted. I bumped into the starts while on hands and knees taking out some pesky grass. With my face in the duff beneath the currants, I saw how the west-facing branches had been deployed by the currant stand as a sort of advance guard on a rooting mission to march towards the sun which they clearly crave. I snipped several of these and potted them up. They're all super healthy and now looking for new places to be marvelous. My original currants cost me a good $10-$12 each. I'm not in it for money, but that's $100 I can now spend on some other cool thing for my urban micro farm.

I also propagated a dozen or so hop rhizomes. Most of those found good homes already. I kept a few for another sunny spot I've got my eye on. I believe my original eight hop starts cost me $4 each. So, there's another $50 for the bee fund or the tree fund or ???

Many of my annual edibles already seed themselves from year to year. Arugula, for example, does very well. Potatoes are easy. Poppies are easy. The Siberian Miner's Lettuce in one of my shady native beds has been super.

Long term I'll steadily move towards all saved seed and heirlooms for my annuals and learn enough about cuttings and starts to keep my perennials rolling along. I've now learned to keep my eyes open in early spring for things that seem ready to multiply. Rather than fighting or forcing (with rooting hormone or some such thing), many species just do the work for you.

It's all part of working less and enjoying more.