Saturday, July 31, 2010
the garden continues to change as the season progresses which may be stating the obvious but it is still impressive to me...in june ( top photo ) the jerusalem artichokes hadn't flowered yet and the spinach, potatoes, and garlic were still nowhere near done... the arugula had flowered and was going to seed signaling that its season was about over...in july ( middle photo )(actually it is still technically july for a few more hours...this photo was taken on the third of the month) the spinach was about finished and the garlic and potatoes were maturing rapidly...the larger yam vine had topped the trellis and was growing across to the other side...the bottom photo is from today...the potatoes, garlic, arugula, and spinach are all harvested and there are cowpeas growing in their places to help replenish the soil...i had thought of a late crop of potatoes but since the only space available was the plot i had just used for the red nordlands and planting potatoes in the same bed repeatedly over-exposes them to pests and disease i thought better of it...i do have an abundance of spinach seeds yet and i do believe i will be planting a late crop of that...it is cold hardy and i don't feel like quitting for the season as far as planting goes just yet...i am having too good a time to quit and next season will see a diminuation in the number of species planted to focus in on a few research questions...more change, but life is transitory and that applies to the garden as well as everything else...i am not anymore pleased about some of the changes i face than anyone else is, but change in the garden is channeled and somewhat more controlled, even if it still faces the vagaries of climate, weather, and parasites ( pedators? are they only parasites because i have a vested interest in the garden's outcome? i'm thinking so)it represents a sort of psychological haven fromm change i cannot have a say in.
Friday, July 23, 2010
there's always movement in the garden and this week has been no exception...the last of the potato harvest is in...thirteen more potatoes from the last five plants...the runt plant produced only one potato but at 286.8 grams it was the biggest of the lot out of a total harvest of 2.8762 kilograms...as i was digging them out i inadvertantly exposed part of the root sytem of the intermediate wheat grass...they're down nine inches since i sowed the seeds in may...perennials that they are they should go quite a bit deeper, when i'm turning under the cowpeas i planted in the potato bed this autumn perhaps i'll take another look ( that large root at the bottom of the photo is from am asparagus plant that is on the west side of the wheatgrass...they are going even deeper, six to eight feet before they're through)...the midlle photo is of a thriving cowpea...there are one hundered and nintey-eight of them up now and i planted a few more when i harvested the last elephant garlic today...the plant with the big flowe produced the cloves for next season's planting ( the other two plants without flowers produced something that looked more like an onion...not unususal since elephant garlic is a member of the onion family...so the flowering plant was the reproductive mechanism...so surprise in that either ) i'll be planting those in the auxilliary garden here at home this fall...the last photo is of the yam vine on the top of the trellis producing aerial bulbs...i bought twenty of those last year from joe hollis at mountain garden and every one of them germinated...i have twenty yam plants in the ground here at home and there are uncounted bulbs on those two vines ( something to do next trip) we will be the chinese yam barons of northwest indiana soon...i wonder if there's a market? these yams are perennials and the ones in the garden look awfully happy...we could be producing these things for years. maintenance will be the focus for a while now until the jerusalem artichoke harvest starts...the yams will be last on the list...more as it transpires.
Friday, July 16, 2010
the jerusalem artichokes continue to bloom...they do give the garden a sunny disposition and i am becoming attached to it...many of them are above the top of my head as well as the plants continue to grow...the flowers have been attracting quite a few bees to the garden but i haven't found any lady bugs yet...drawing beneficial insects into the garden's ecology was supposed to be one of the advantages of planting sunchokes and i hope we can move beyond bees.
the intermediate wheatgrass (third photo) is beginning to mature and go to seed...i'm going to have to develop a method of collecting the seeds from a few plants before those seedheads dry out and begin shattering, i'd like to get a handle on a reasonable average seed production in those just to have the data...the gamagrass won't seed for two more seasons but even so i'd like to have a basis for some sort of comparison...if i can overcome my teosinte difficulties it would be useful in that comparison too.
in the first fifty-two days of the season, from 2 april 2010 to 24 may 2010 i used two hundred and seven gallons of water over the rainfall on the garden...in the following fifty two days that ended yesterday i used two hundred and forty gallons...this struck me as counterintuitive at first...the jerusalem artichokes, chinese yams, and asparagus are all well developed ( except for the runt asparagus which had been living in the shadow of the spinach and arugula until recently...i hope it does some catching up now that their season is through ) and should have deep enough root systems to utilize some groundwater...some of the potatoes have been harvested ( and the rest will probably come out this weekend )and i wasn't watering the elephant garlic at all...a little thought brought me to the realization that as i harvested i was replanting the area with cowpeas to help the garden along for next season...the weather has warmed up a bit and despite continued rainfall the garden's surface soil has been drying out more quickly between rains...while the perennials have extensive and deep root systems the cowpeas are annuals that are rooted more closely to the less moist surface...couple that with the need to keep the soil ( i feel more at ease calling it that now than i did last fall ) watered to allow the newly planted cowpeas to germinate and the increased water use becomes better explained.
we are hurtling toward autumn and the end of the garden's first season...i am all anticipation over the yams and sunchokes...digging down three feet to get to the yams should be really interesting...can't wait to see what turns up!
Monday, July 5, 2010
the potato plant that was broken last week definitely withered up so i dug into the hill to see if there was anything in the way of a tuber in there...after i got down about nine inches i hit what i first thought was a stone or a clod of earth...turned out to be the first of three small but complete red nordalnds...so elephant garlic and potatoes are at least two successes...taking a close look at the rest of the potato plants i can see they're beginning to yellow...they were supposed to be done this month and are on schedule, so i will be taking my root and tuber fork out to campus over the coming week to search for more spuds...the large elephant garlic is also starting to yellow, signaling it season is almost finished as well...i imagine i will be putting that yam vine on the trellis where it belongs, and speaking of yams, the plant on the south side of the row which has grown up and across the trellis is putting out new vines...it must be doing well in its evnvironment which has me wondering what we will find at harvest time this autumn...as more plants are harvested i will be planting more cowpeas to help prepare the garden for next season...things are moving along.
the other day i was commenting on the way the garden stands in opposition to industrial food philosophically, and i used some photos of cornfields down county line road as an illustration...something unidentified struck me as different about the fields that day and it took me until i was riding by those crops on the way back from the bookstore today to figure it out...there aren'r any soybeans out there this year...there was corn, but no beans...just some weedy fields interspersed with the corn...fallow perhaps, i thought...but that isn't an extractive viewpoint...you have to use everything...when i stopped to take those photos i saw a sign for a hybird type of alfalfa across the road and it took until today to click...the farmers are putting in a late planting of alfalfa in those empty fields...seems there is a stong market for silage for dairy cows this year...bigger herds? more severe winter forecast? i'm not sure, but the futures for alfalfa are much stronger than those for soybeans, so...alfalfa. farming's a hard dollar...whatever works.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
well...i don't know how things transpire in your life, but in mine things rarely turn out exactly as planned...the garden is no exception...the teosinte, for instance, is stalled in peat pots in my livingroom...about twenty plants worth of non-failure, but non-success as well...still looking for that breakthrough moment...some of the elephant garlic has ripened and i've harvested two of them...one weighed in at 126.2 grams the other 202 even, so that went off pretty well...the book says they mature in ninety to one hundered and ten days...i pegged those at nintey-nine with the floweing one confusing the hell out of me...it has remained unchanged for weeks...someone or something crushed a potato plant..half of it looked as though it could survive so i hilled it to support it on thursday...as you can see by the second photo it looks pretty well wilted this morning and so i will check to see if it had produced anything on my next trip out, probably monday...the jerusalem artichokes are well over six feet tall now and starting to flower..they are exceptionally hardy individuals...nothing particularly fragile there...they are native to this place, so that isn't much of a surprise...but it's nice all the same...as usual i uploaded the last two photos in exactly the inverse order i wanted them...the bottom one is the garden as it looked on april thirteenth of this year and the second to last is one from today...we've made progress and i really couldn't be more pleased...if we plan through the autumn and prepare the garden for winter we should be able to reprise our success in the garden's seconsd season...we only need our luck to hold until this year's is harvested