Monday, May 9, 2011


And now, folks, it's time for the annual State Of The Garden (SOTG) Report.

The State Of The Garden is: "good"

Actually, so far the garden is going well this year. Last year was, as you may know, a pretty unqualified disaster. Actually, wait, you probably don't know. Why don't you know? Because at some point (I'd call it late July) I just stopped talking about it altogether. But it was bad. I got completely overwhelmed by my new full-time job and a garden that was really conceived of and planned like a full-time garden. I did do some things to try and mitigate the problems, like using plastic mulch, but eventually, it just got entirely out of control.

Now, here's the interesting thing--thanks to the plastic mulch I used, the beds themselves were pretty okay.  Those mainly suffered from poor planning, not planting on time, etc.  No, the disaster areas were the paths in between the beds.  Chocked full of crabgrass--absolutely awful.  And I had no practical way to get rid of it.  Our mower doesn't fit between the beds (yes, maybe that's bad planning, but nothing for it now), and you can't weed it out, since it's completely packed down by walking.  Finally, at the end of the season, I found a used electric weed-wacker for $10 at a garage sale and I completely went to town on those suckers.  And in fact, I think I obliterated a lot of them--cool stuff.  They don't seem to be coming back this year, I think in part because the whacked weeds formed a pretty solid mat, partially because I whacked them right down to the ground, and partially because the chickens ate everything that was making an attempt.

Here's my garden in some detail, with design layout.

Here's what's gone on so far:

  • We freecycled our kid's old swingset (they hadn't used it for at least two years), and reclaimed that area for two new 2'x10' strawberry beds.
  • I interplanted the remaining strawberry crowns into the asparagus bed.  Now we have two 15' rows of asparagus that are 5' apart, with maybe 15 strawberry plants running down the center.  No, I haven't figured out how I'm going to harvest the strawberries, why do you ask?
  • Several of my new grape vines got kacked by hail recently, so my vines are now lopsided.  I'll have grapes growing on canes on one side, and a new vine growing on the other.  Ah well, c'est la vie, n'est-ce pas?
  • Asparagus beds and strawberry beds have all been thoroughly strawed.
  • Potatoes (white and yukon) are up in two 4'x4' beds.  I've mulched in one of the beds, and I'll be putting down straw in the other, to see which works better.  I've also aggressively covered the plants with netting, in case the chickens try to get at them.  Potato plants are toxic, you know.
  • Just planted my sweet potato slips, which have all taken nicely.  Sweet potato greens are not toxic, but I still don't want my chickens eating them (they're mine, damnit).
  • Pole beans are planted around, well, poles (duh.), and I've got wire mesh 1.5' high surrounding each pole, with branches stuck inside, as chicken defense, making the whole thing look like some kind of twisted Guantanamo for beans.
  • MY ONIONS ARE DOING WELL!  Yes, that does deserve to be in yellcaps, cause I'm freaked out.  I've been trying to grow onions for five years now, and this is the first time it looks like I might actually have some success.  I started them from seed on Feb. 15 (which was later than I'd wanted), got them into the ground at the end of March, and have been fertilizing pretty aggressively.  So far I've got a lot of nice, fat greens coming up.  We'll see if they bulb properly now.  Garlic is doing well, too.
  • Lettuces have all recovered from a hideous chicken attack (look back a few posts for more on that one).  
  • Broccoli is doing well, but no sprouts yet; cabbages are limping along; carrots & beets similarly.
  • Pepper plants are in self-watering containers on our back patio.
  • Many new herbs in the ground--we'll see if I can keep them alive.
A lot of my gardening methodology has changed this year.  First, I've really changed my goals--I have a lot of potatoes & onions in the garden, which are comparatively low maintenance.  My family just doesn't eat many tomatoes or peppers, and they're PITAs to grow, so why bother?  That's what the market is for.  The other main thing I've been learning is Extreme Chicken Defense.  So far, the chickens have managed to get into and somehow harass nearly every plant I have, but in almost all cases it was because I'd not properly secured some covering or other.  A lot of the garden I've just blocked from the chickens entirely, but some of it they still have access to, so we'll see how it goes.

I am still planning on having a 10' pool for the kids (and me) this year.  We don't use our A/C, and you really would not believe how nice a pool is to jump into.  It cools you right off, and really it keeps you cool even once you're out.  This does take a big chunk of space out of the middle of the garden, but I think it's worth it, and we just don't have a better place for it.

I have lots of other things to update, but I'll go ahead and post this for now, otherwise even I wouldn't make it all the way to the end of the post, and I wrote it.

1 comment:

  1. I can't say enough about the weed whacker method of extreme garden weeding! :-) Usually, that is my prefered method in August, when the plants are big enough that I can easily miss them, and I'm just trying to mow the paths. But this year we took the whacker to the garden before we broadforked it, and it did a really nice job killing off the crab grass.