Saturday, August 29, 2009

Garden Update

Its finished... a week ahead of "schedule" even. The "smother garden" expansion is complete with a lot of sweat from my husband. We went out to our horse-loving friends and got our 4th and final load of compost to finish off the last remaining beds today. We throw a weekly paper route which supplies our source of newspaper for the grass smothering. A woodworking neighbor supplies the sawdust which I've found to greatly improve seed germination (when mixed with compost) as well as post-transplant seedling survival. I'm happy to have it complete as homesteading baby #3 is due in 3 weeks and I'm hoping to have more seedlings in the ground before he comes and I'm moderately incapacitated. So far we have watermelon coming in strong (4 small fruit that I've spotted so far and tons more blossoms), bell peppers growing well, tomatoes doing well, cucumbers struggling, but 2 planted later fairing much better, beans also struggling somewhat from unknown causes, and collard greens, broccoli, and bok choy doing their best with the drier conditions and being very newly transplanted. I lost half my broccoli and all my swiss chard after transplanting (with no sawdust in the beds)... I watered in the morning and expected it to rain in the afternoon. It didn't and I didn't water again. They were dead by morning. Live and learn.
Another neighbor owns a honey store and processing plant. She's begun saving these large tubs that they get bee pollen in for us. The first came just in time for our first round of compost tea (what we hope to use as our weekly fertilizer). So the little farmer girl and I sewed up a bag from some fabric scraps we had on hand, ran bailing twine through for a drawstring and filled the bag with compost. We then set the bag in the tub and filled it with water. A couple days from now we should have wonderful compost tea for all our young plants.

And here's our summer garden that I've begun to almost completely neglect. Its an absolute jungle of sweet potato and loofah vines. The sweet potatoes climb the fence on one side and are shading out my pineapples. The loofah climbs out the other side and keeps curling its grippers on my seedlings, herb cuttings and potted plants. I've left a few okra on the one bearing plant for seed. The others have lost all their leaves and are looking rather sad. If I feel ambitious with nothing to do between now and child birth, I'll rip out the okra and cover that section with plastic to bake out any nematodes. The cowpeas are frustrating me because it seems everything is coming in with worms now and I've only been drying and storing them lately. I don't know what to do with the loofah. I think its supposed to dry on the vine so I'm planning on just letting it go until I can't stand it anymore. The sweet potatoes we'll begin harvesting in October, but not pull up the last until December. Until then its just going to have to be a jungle. The grapes are doing well considering the harsh pruning we had to give them this spring. The harvest has been modest but very tastey. When they start going dormant it will help diminish the jungle effect considerably as well.

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