Saturday, August 4, 2012

Adventures in gardening 2013

I figured it was time for a little gardening news...

First, I read somewhere that you could deter ants and aphids naturally by planting marigold around the base of your trees. So I gave it a shot. I cleared a circle out to the drip line of my fruit trees...

and planted marigold seed about half-way out, spacing the seed 1" apart. This picture is three weeks after planting.

The more gardening oriented among you may be thinking "Those look more like dandelions than marigolds.". Well, your observation would be entirely accurate. Out of the few hundred seeds I planted, only one came up. The dandelions did very well though *sigh*. I have heard that marigolds are really easy to grow from seed, that it is pretty hard to fail, so kudo's to me and accomplishing such a difficult task

We had a late cold snap again this year, so only one apricot made it again (on the plus side, the apricot tree has faithfully produced one apricot every year for the past 4 years.

We started an official garden this year for the first time as well. The first row has tomatoes, bell peppers and Brussels sprouts. I had some leftover black plastic which I put down. For veggies that like warmer climes this works well It keeps the soil warmer. It also keeps it more moist, with less water, and blocks weeds, so win win win.

The next two rows were pole beans and peas. I used some left over fence to give them something to climb. The Pole beans in my three sisters garden didn't get over four feet tall, and I have had a few people in the valley tell me that is about as tall as theirs ever got.

After the ple beans hit the top of the fence, I use PVC pipe to create a 7' high frame, and ran string from the fence to the pvc cross bars. It has a tendency to come apart in strong-ish winds (I didn't glue any of it. The cross bars sag a bit under the weight of the beans. Also, the PVC is held upright by being slipped onto 18" rebar, which I hammered into the ground about half-way. I overwatered one eveing during a strong wind, and that did my anchors in, so I had to tie guy wires to keep the frame upright.

At any rate, some of the bean plants are over 8' tall now. Our first harvest weighed in at four pounds. I did not amend the soil. It was not high quality soil. I used no fertilizers and no pesticides. Pretty happy with the results.

(I did use pesticide on the Brussels sprouts though. Those things are aphid magnets. You can't see the plastic under them now for all the aphid poop. I may try surrounding them with marigolds and garlic next year, to see if that helps).

This last row is lettuce and beets.

You may be thinking the beet crop looks a little sparse. You may be right. we had a serious pest problem in this row. A couple of neighbor kids tramped from one end to the other. destructive little critters.

That is it for the official garden this year. There is still room to add tow more rows. Hopefully next year time will permit that.

On the other side of the yard, I put in six grapevines (two red, two green, two black. They are off to a good start. I am using cheap metal fence posts and vinyl clothesline for my vine guides, you can just  make them out.

Oh yeah, somehow we wound up with a random sunflower growing next to the oldest of our Cherry trees. Not sure how it got there, but I figured it wouldn't hurt anything to let it grow. The marigolds you see here are plants we purchased later, since my attempt to grow from seed was so spectacularly unsuccessful.

And that is that for this year. Mostly successful with no chemicals, other than pesticide on the Brussels sprouts. And 1 round of dormant oil on the trees in the spring. Oh, and just s couple weeks ago I had to spray the apple tree for fire blight. Fingers crossed that we don't lose it. It is our oldest fruit tree.

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