Sunday, June 29, 2008

garden experiment

So, three weeks after putting a tarp on our lawn, it was time to see how the solarizing worked. Bram took off the plastic, and stacked the wood off to the side and this is what we had:

Looked pretty dead to me. But while breaking up the dirt with the spading fork, I came across some subterranean-fungus-white-but-still-alive stuff, connected to long roots. Probably the dreaded bindweed.

So, after spading, I raked all the clumps to the sides. Pulled out the root balls, amended the dirt, and raked it flat. Decided that the wood should go back as edging, at least for now. Figure it will keep the dirt in place a little better. Tested the sprinklers, to see what kind of coverage we got. Pretty good, but some of the logs needed to be dug in lower, so the pop-up sprinkler heads near the edges would clear them. Here's the area, ready for mulch.

I decided to use straw. Mulch is pretty much mandatory in these parts — it's the best way to keep the dirt from drying out immediately. Joa introduced me to using straw my first summer here, while I was helping her with some landscaping at her and Janie's place. Then I got Ruth Stout's No-Work Garden Book out of the library. It's all about using straw as a really deep mulch; to control pests, to keep weeds down, to keep things from drying out, and as it breaks down, it's like adding compost to the soil. It's also pretty entertaining, the book, I mean.

Not the straw. Nothing funny about straw.


Straw bale rides! Yee hah! That's a flattering pic Bram took of of me, eh? Thanks, sweetie. :)

Anyway, Ruth Stout apparently was a bit of a nut, if a charismatic one, and while her technique isn't exactly "no-work" it is, as this essay points out "no-till, no-dig, no-water, no-weed and no-composting." Eh, I don't know if I'd go that far.

After mulching, I grabbed those sticks that were leaning against the back wall (I knew I was saving them for something!) and stuck 'em inna ground as supports. Aaaand, here I am, putting in the plants.

There are 3 tomato plants, 2 winter squash plants, and I put in a buncha bean seeds (I guess those would be "beans") around the foot of that teepee-looking thing. Here's the final setup, and a long view of the yard from the patio:

[click for larger]

Bram is on the intertubes, looking up the kind of tomatoes we got. They are (all 3) Black Krim, which I confess I grabbed mainly because the nursery tag said they were "extremely early." The squashes are (1) Acorn squash and (1) Delicata, and the the beans are (were? will be?) Hutterite soup beans.

I think maybe I'll put in some marigolds, they're supposed to be good for the tomatoes. We'll also probably have to put up some chicken wire or something around the perimeter, to keep out critters (skunks? neighbor cats? chupacabras?). Ah, it's an experiment. I read once that if you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener. My hamstrings are killing me — maybe I should stretch before gardening.

[cross-posted from G2NM]

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