Saturday, May 20, 2006

Gardening in the rain

It's been raining continuously for almost 2 weeks, but the garden won't wait! I now have TWO gardens - the Old Garden, put in about 3 years ago, and the New Garden, beside it, which I am just creating now.

The Old Garden, having been worked and improved with compost for 3 years, this year is devoted to root crops. I've planted 2 different types of potatoes: Russian Blue and a creamy white variety. Last year we planted Russian Blue, but I was just fooling around - I didn't really take much care of them, didn't fertilize them or hill them as they grew, so it was just an experiment to see what would happen. I think they were planted too close together, also, so the potatoes that were produced were rather small. However, they DID taste better than store-bought (or as my mother would say, "boughten") potatoes. It's hard to believe that potatoes could have a more intense potato flavour, but so it was. Having had success with almost no effort, I resolved this year to see what would happen if I really TRIED to grow good potatoes.

Accordingly, I carefully checked the book and spaced the rows 3 ft. apart, while planting the potato pieces 1 ft from each other. When I'd finished planting, I discovered that I had almost no room for anything else! I also want to grow 2 varieties of carrot, but I was squeezed into a little square between the rhubarb in one corner, and the raspberries growing along the north side! I called Auntie May, and asked if she thought it might be possible to grow carrots BETWEEN the rows of potatoes. She thought it might work, if the potato plants are far enough away not to completely shade the carrots. I'm going to try it. Really, I have nothing to lose, and I've got a small section of carrots at the top of the garden, if all else fails.

The raspberries growing all along the north side are spreading madly, as usual. This year I was brutal, and tore out all the little shoots that were pushing up (and keep straying into the rest of the garden, as well as the lawn!) . Three currant bushes are growing beside them - a little too close, but there's nothing I can do about it now; just try to fence the raspberries so they don't fall all over the currants. Two of the currants (red and pink) had lots of blossoms, while the black one had very few - no idea why, maybe I pruned it too much last year. It looks healthy, though - perhaps we'll have better luck next year. At the very bottom of the garden is a forsaken blueberry plant. A different variety of raspberries had been planted in front of it, and always tumbled over it, making it impossible to develop, but it still survived year after year. This year, I was fed up with the raspberries, which never seemed to produce much fruit, so I pulled most of them out, restricting them to the far south-west corner - they have one more chance to prove themselves there. I've bought 2 more blueberries to plant in front of the old one, so maybe they can cross-pollinate each other and do better this year.


This garden was born of my desire to grow more vegetables, and my total disgust with the pathetic lawn occupying the space. Every summer it gets bare and weedy, and this year the grubs were back, too. I should have dug it up last fall, but just ran out of time, so I did it this spring, with the old rototiller I got at the auction last year. As the ground is just turned-over turf, and hasn't had a chance to be improved or worked over (it's a bit clayey, and packs down a bit) I decided to grow above-ground crops here. I've planted 7 tomato plants so far; tomatoes really grew madly in the Old Garden, so I figured they had a better chance than most plants of managing in the New Garden, despite the less-than-ideal soil. I don't really need tomato plants that are taller than I am; if they are a little reduced in size, it's no big deal. I'm also going to plant kale and swiss chard, as well as zucchini (the garden monster) and cucumbers. Maybe a few herb plants, too, I haven't decided. The tomatoes are at the bottom, right in front of the swing set with the new hammock, so in the middle of summer, when the tomatoes are ripening, it should be very nice to lie out there and look at them.

I'm going to cut off some of the lower branches of the tree near the fence, to allow more sun in, and perhaps get that tree from the wasteland on the other side of the fence at the bottom of the yard lopped off. It's the main trunk, I think, but it's growing at about a 50 degree angle right into our yard. I'm sure I'm within my rights to have it taken off, and it might even give the rest of the tree a chance of growing straight. Dean and I are considering planting a couple apple trees down there, and it will be impossible unless that part of the overhanging tree is gone. So this means a call to the tree guys this year. It shouldn't be too expensive, though - just branch removal. At the moment the garden is just dirt, but as it progresses, I'll post pictures.


Blogger Simon Langer said...

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I'll come by again.


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