1. The lesson of the mulch
Last fall when we put the garden beds 'to bed' for the winter we decided to try giving them a healthy layer of mulch to try and keep the spring weeds down to a more manageable level. We succeeded. Sorta. For mulch we selected a couple bails of straw I had left sit out too long. It wasn't really good for much else, so it became mulch. The spring turned out to be a very wet one, and a host of things kept us from getting the early start we had hoped to get. When we finally got to that bed (last month - and it's still not cleared and replanted) the lesson was revealed. It seems by using the straw for mulch I had planted a reasonably respectable crop of winter wheat.
|A nice crop of wheat where it should never have been.|
Wheat-gate was not, however, universally considered to be a garden stench in the nostrils of all who pass by. It seems my crew of chicken helpers regarded this little 4x8 plot of cover crop as a mid-summers bonus. In yet another layer (hee hee) of failure, caused once again my own lack of due diligence, the great harvest began without me. As soon the bulk of the grain began to develop an almost-ready-to-harvest golden hue the crew moved in. With gusto.
|The harvest begins...|
|... And in the course of a couple days, nears completion|
2. The lesson of the volunteer plants
A few years ago we tried raising strawberries in one of the garden beds without much luck. A few scraggly plants, not one berry. A failure. It happens to all of us so next year we moved the bed (with not much better results, but that's another failure). This year, as we were cleaning out that bed we found a good handful of volunteer strawberry plants that were looking pretty healthy, so we re-purposed that bed to be berries and let them grow. And grow they did! They looked a little taller than the berries we've had in the past but they were doing pretty well. They were a nice lush, dark green with healthy stems and leaves and pretty little yellow flowers. Wait - what? Yellow? Yellow! Yellow??? Stawberries don't have yellow blossoms! It only took a little research to determine I had grown a beautiful crop of an invasive species called a Mock Strawberry. They do eventually produce an edible little berry with essentially no taste whatsoever. Oops....
|My lovely crop of Mock Strawberries|
A number of years ago there was a movie called 'Apocalypse Now'. As I recall there were no real morally upstanding good guys in the whole film, but there were a couple that were extra creepy-bad. One was a CIA-type who, when talking about getting rid of a rogue colonel, used the term "Terminate with extreme prejudice". That was the fate that befell my volunteer crop of phony berries. I ripped every last one of them out by roots. Next....
|The empty bed between the green beans and the eggplant is where my fakers used to be.|
In the grand scheme of things, these mistakes are pretty small potatoes and I'm sure to make bigger one as time goes on. I thought however that amongst the moderate successes I should fess up to at least some of the failures. All good, and I hope you now won't make the same homestead garden mistakes I have.