Friday, July 3, 2015

Live and Learn...

A couple of days ago I promised a post on recent faux pas I had made in the garden.  Well, here it is!  The full list is actually quite long, so I'm just going to hit a couple of highlights here.

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.
I saw (and still see) this as a bad move on my part and to make matters worse, I can now kinda-sorta remember reading someone else's blog post on the same problem. As bad as it was, I thought I could salvage some miniscule bit of botanical dignity by at least providing De with a bit of decorative foliage.

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
In a somewhat unpatriotic fit of avian greed, my usual crew of garden assistants picked every last amber wave of grain clean off the heads right down the stalk and trampled what was left.  No weed-free bed, no decorative foliage, just another weedy bed to look after.  This fall - Grass clippings or something else, but no more straw mulch.

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.

Col. 1:9-12,


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hey! It's a garden again!

Hello all!  Mark the bad, bad blogger back again. 

First the catch up:  De had foot surgery last Friday and has been in the recliner with her foot up since.  She's allowed to be up and around no more 5 minutes out of every hour, and has to have her foot elevated at or above heart level the other 55 minutes out of the hour.  I took the week off, and have been doing the 'Nurse Mark' thing and working the lawn and garden in between.  We have been so blessed to have family and friends bring in the evening meals.  I'm a fair cook, but it so nice not to have to worry about what supper is going be amongst everything else.  We see the surgeon for a followup tomorrow.

Between meals, hot drinks, cold drinks, ice bag changes, medications, post-surgery boot adjustments, counting out 5 minutes of up-time, housework and general errands, I have gotten some lawn and garden time in.  Here is the more-than-a-little-embarrassing mess I started with:

There is a garden under all those weeds!
After a couple of days work I found (most) of the garden that was supposed to be there.  I started with a full mowing.  It has been so wet for so long it had reverted to the pasture it started out as 25 years ago when we built here.  The good news is that gave me an ample source of lawn clippings, most of which I still have available to "harvest".

I weed-wacked between the beds and added lawn clippings. I still have more of this to do.  Then (finally) got the tomatoes caged and pole beans trellised.
Tomato cages in 10 foot beds made from 9' 4" of a 16' hog panel

The rest of the 16' hog panel set up for pole bean trellises.
After a bit of weeding I found the rest of what we had planted.

Egg plant looks good

Broccoli (or Brussel Sprouts) look great

Brussel Sprouts (or Broccoli) looks great

The lettuce did not really survive the weeding..

But did better than the spinach.  I think some of that is overgrown spinach, but it's all coming out.

The cabbage is doing great

I had some help with weeding the peas
And between the two of us, they look pretty good.

I was certain I had killed my Horseradish when I harvested last years crop.  Apparently not....

I've got plenty more to do, but at least I feel like I'm back in the game.  I am, however, reaping the results of some gardening mistakes, which I'll fess up to in nauseating detail in the next post.

I've been trying to catch up on blog visits and hope to be on top of everything before I go back the 'day job' on Monday.  As you all know, however, during gardening season one has to "make hay while the sun shines".  I just wish it wasn't my lawn that needs a baler!! :-)

Take care all.  Col. 1:9-12,