Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Garden

Here's some spring garden pics. Stuff is growing already. That's still amazing to me. When we lived in Illinois, you couldn't plant anything until the end of May. It's not yet even the end of March!

This is probably the main garden area, not by virtue of location, but by virtue of its fencing. This keeps the free range chickens out of it as well as the deer.  To the left you see the raised beds and to the right you see the "Back to Eden" beds.

Here's a focus on the Back to Eden bed. I just took mulch and dumped it in there deep then spread it out. Nothing is growing in it yet but there are beans planted. I use rocks to mark a path down the middle. Once the area is overgrown with okra and sprawling tomato plants then it looks like wilderness. Back to Eden beds are hard to keep from looking like chaos.

This is a wheelbarrow load of the last of last year's humanure compost. All the rest went into 3 of the raised beds. That was all we have so far. In August I'll have another big batch finished, and next year we'll have even double that. It's probably about 12 tons in total we'll have by the end of next year. That is awesome.

These smaller raised beds are used as flower and herb gardens.

Here's one of the raised beds that is filled with just mulch. It has started to break down since it was dropped in last spring, but it's still not great stuff. Too twiggy. Needs more soil to it.

Here's the irrigation system which covers each raised bed. A 5 gallon bucket feeds two pipes which have holes drilled in them at each point where a plant is growing. Fill the bucket and water comes out directly at the base of the plants, soaking in deep. During the height of the summer, 2-3 fills is required. We use a lot of water. The biggest problem with this system is getting it to evenly distribute to all of the plants. Eventually you settle on "close enough" and just try to make sure no plant is having its growth stunted by lack of water.

In this bed I have dumped last year's humanure compost. As you can see, there's still some bark and larger wood chips that didn't completely break down. Since I don't turn the piles, the stuff around the edges is always less composted than the stuff from the middle of the pile. Since all of the manure gets composted, I don't stress about it. That's cabbages growing, plus some beans that somehow got thrown in there. I will often throw leftover bean seeds that I was planting elsewhere just willy nilly into the beds to thrive or die. If they grow in a good spot, or can be transplanted, then I will keep them. Otherwise I let them grow until such time as they interfere with whatever was intended to grow in there. They aren't hurting anything and are adding nitrogen into the soil.

Here are some onions growing in a bed that was filled with the compost from the center of the pile. Mostly just dirt now and only a few wood chips remaining. Most of those are probably just thrown in from other beds.

Here's a potato patch growing in mulch. Back a dump truck up, drop a big load of mulch, and then spread it out. Plant your taters and wait. Pretty simple if you've got the space.

Sorry for the bad lighting in these photos. It's a gloomy grey day outside.

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