Sunday, August 21, 2011

110821 Garden Report

My garden has done better than I had hoped.  As I've indicated before it is pretty small but I have obtained a lot of organically grown, fresh, tasty, low cost food.  I harvest a portion of lettuce every day and it just continues to grow.  It has been an excellent addition to salads and sandwiches.  My single tomato plant is full of green tomatoes and I have eaten a half dozen ripe ones.  They are delicious.  I still have nothing going on with my two pepper plants so I think those were a wash.  I eat green beans twice a week and the second planting is producing really well.  My third planting of radishes is just now getting ready for picking.  I built a new raised bed with a lot of sharp sand mixed in for a carrot bed.  They took ten days to sprout but now they are growing nicely.

I always try to use a raised bed when I grow carrots.  This is for a couple reasons.  Carrots prefer very loose soil.  I mix in large quantities of sharp sand, which loosens the soil, aids drainage, and seems to reduce carrot maggots.  The sharp sand is uncomfortable for them.  Carrots do not like a lot of humus.  Carrots will get all hairy with lots and lots of little roots if the soil is too rich.  The part you eat is a root and you want it to grow down to seek water and nutrients.  I loosened up the top four inches of soil with added sand and then added another 2-3 inches of sand and potting soil to the top.  The raised bed is simply made by using boards from an old pallet that I picked up for free.  I put a layer of sand on the surface to prevent slugs from attacking the plants; slugs cannot travel across sharp sand.  It is light colored so it also reflects light back up to the plants, which is important in late plantings since there is less and less sunlight each day.  If you ever buy sand for your garden make sure you ask for Horticultural Sharp Sand.  This will be washed and low in salt.

These are three of the tomatoes.  They are a nice size for me, about the size of a racket ball.  Each tomato is big enough for one serving so I don't have to store any leftovers.  These tomatoes are very meaty and a rich, dark red.  I only eat home-grown tomatoes, I never buy tomatoes in a store; they have no flavor.


This is the best book I have ever come across for growing lots of food in a small space.  I have adapted the concepts of Square Foot Gardening over the years based on my own experiences and other gardening practices that also make sense to me.  I highly recommend this book even if you are an experienced gardener.

We are near the end of the traditional gardening season in most places but you can garden well into the Fall and even early Winter using raised beds and Square Foot Gardening techniques.  Since you are only gardening in a small space it is not hard to construct a framework which you can cover with plastic to extend the gardening season.  You can continue to grow non-flowering crops (radishes, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and other greens) as long as the air around the leafy parts of the plant stays above freezing.

The many flowering plants I have in and around my garden did their job.  They are nice to look at and they brought in all the beneficial insects I wanted.  I had no insect pests in my garden at all and there were plenty of bees to fertilize my beans and tomatoes.

The dense planting pretty much prevents weeds from growing.  I spend, at most, ten to fifteen minutes a week weeding.  And these are just tiny weed sprouts.  Newly planted beds, like my new carrot bed, need the most work.  I will wait a couple more days before I weed the carrot bed because I want the carrots to be firmly anchored in the soil before I start pulling stuff out.

Have any of you tried a garden this year?  Tell me about it.

1 comment:

  1. Our garden has dwindled from a 1/4 acre when we moved here to an 8x4 foot raised bed. The garden went in late due to all the rain. The bunnies and voles enjoyed my cucumber plant and carrots I am not sure what happened to the onions. They just disappeared. Our green bean (blue lake bush) were a success and only recently did I pull them for the season. The tomato plants have been awesome and I have been putting them up for the winter. The lone pepper plant has done a good job yielding enough for salads and some to cut up and freeze. I planted strawberries in a barrel and hope to see some fruit next year. The birds ate every raspberry.I have had a lot of problems with crab grass and it has been a never ending chore of keeping grass out of the bed. I would like to put in some lettuces when the weather cools for a fall crop. I don't like the location of this garden and I would like it moved or another put in closer to the house. My lavender and the flowers were beautiful. Some of them had their season cut short due to the extreme heat. The ornamental grasses we planted last year look wonderful and full. I added 2 hydrangeas to the yard this year and I am hoping for the best.