Thursday, June 20

High Hopes for this Years Garden

I have very high hopes for the garden this year. Given that I have a fencing system to rival a medieval fortress and two new raised beds, I am feeling pretty good about my future harvest.

The fence (garden fortification system)-  27 rough cut larch posts standing at 4' and buried 2' and 4' of galvanized fencing enclosing the 30' x 40' garden area. I have experimented with different types of fencing since we moved here, starting with no fencing at all to just enclosing the actual plants in their own personal plastic fence, to a 3' metal enclosure with wooden stakes, to a 4' galvanized enclosure with metal stakes, and finally, this year, the fortification system.

I may yet dig a moat.

The two previous raised beds hold strawberries, which we are harvesting now, and the other holds an assortment of radishes, carrots, spinach and marigolds. This is the first year I have mixed marigolds in with the vegetable plants after some research on natural pest repellent. Apparently, marigolds are almost pest free, and their 'pest-repelling' qualities help keep the bugs off my broccoli. They are also supposed to deter deer and the Mexican bean beetle. I hope they also have an effect on woodchucks and bunnies.

The two new raised beds, also made from rough cut larch boards, are providing nice rows of onions, peppers, more radishes, more marigolds, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers and three types of lettuce. I have covered all of the raised beds with poultry netting to deter birds from snacking on the strawberries and the woodchuck from snacking on everything else. Given that I already have the fence to rival all fencing, I should not worry about such things. However, I am a worrier and if I have a fence inside of a fence, it gives me a little more peace of mind.

I love rows. Nice, neat orderly rows.....

The two rows of tomatoes are all doing well after being transplanted. My goal with them now is to take care of any tomato "suckers," which grow in the "V" space between the main stem and the branches. This year I want to guard against unruly plants that take over the rows and provide endless hours of frustration and overuse of cages and stakes. My love/hate relationship with the tomato has been well documented here on the blog: I Hate the Tomato and every year I try to make a better cage, a better system, better row spacing, better thinning. And every year, I end up defeated, swearing and watching overladen tomato branches bend and snap. Can this year be different?

The beans and the peas are both doing very well and I planted extra peas this year with more seeds bought this spring to allow for many succession plantings.

All my rows are east to west running this year. I wanted to cut down on the wind damage to some of my taller plants and given the shape of the tilled section, this allows for shorter rows to weed. Being short on time with the two kids and other obligations, I am always looking for ways to reduce weeding time, or the need to weed in general. this year we are trying two different methods to keep the weeds down between the rows and around the plants. For the tomatoes we are trying general wood mulch, about 5 inches thick. So far, it is doing a fantastic job of keeping all but the very few most stubborn weeds down. The only thing I worry about with this method is the decomposition of the mulch into the soil. I want to be able to let the chickens into the garden at the end of the year to dig around and I also want to till. My concern is this: will the wood mulch decompose enough over the winter to make the soil not chip-filled next spring?

The other mulching option we are using is plain old straw and dried grass clippings. This is currently on the beans and peas and although we do have more break through weeds with this method, it is still negligible compared to no mulch at all. I like it because it is a bit more loose and I think it will compost into the soil better over the winter.

We will keep monitoring and decide which to use next year, or if we want to try something entirely different.

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