Okay, so the news is good. This was the very first bean of the season, and I just couldn’t resist the still life the squashes suggested.
Let me invite you to the vegetable garden for a short tour. Of course, we will begin at the gate.
Right in front the dead looking things in with the chard are a few rugosa rose sprouts I dug up in hopes that I could transplant them into my new rose bed. They aren’t very happy right now, but they haven’t actually died yet either.
The fence is our defence against rabbits, turtles and deer. Jim went out to Jay and Jeri’s place where they have a plethora of Eastern red cedar, and cut trees for posts. He limbed them out and allowed them to season for a few months, then brought them home and peeled them. Those made the posts for the fence and the arbor. Starting from about 3 inches below ground level up to waist high, the fence is made of 1/2 inch cedar planks from a local mill. Above that is a four foot wide section of chicken wire.
The lower solid portion keeps the rabbits and turtles out. It is buried enough that the turtles and rabbits are discouraged from burrowing under. The chicken wire discourages the deer and raccoons. Raccoons are not completely barred from the garden because the neighbor’s privacy fence gives them access, but we haven’t been having a lot of trouble with them. I imagine there are plenty of garbage cans in the area to satisfy them, they don’t need the garden.
So, if you make a left and walk along the south side of the garden, you get to the table grape arbor. Thre are grapes up there! The cedar posts Jim “manufactured” create the supports for this as well. Gas and labor are all these cost us, and they should last for many years as cedar is rot resistant.
What you cannot see in this photo is the Garden Wren, who was perched at the top of the fence cussing us out severely while I was out there taking pictures and moving the hoses. The Garden Wrens are extremely busy birds. They must have gotten right down to work and laid eggs the day after they fledged their first batch of chicks, because they are already feeding babies again. The grape arbor has made their nest location much more pleasant, as it now has afternoon shade. The babies will not be suffering from the heat so much this year because of that.
Under the white hoops in the first picture is where the eggplants are. The hoops supported a floating row cover that protected the young plants from flea beetles during their first growth spurt. Apparently, eggplants are a preferred gourmet dining experience for flea beetles. If you do not protect the yount plants somehow, the flea beetles turn their leaves to lace and the damage is so severe the little plants die. Once they have gotten bigger and start blossoming, they can grow fast enough to sustain themselves and grow fruit, which my eggplants are doing as we speak.
As you can see, the flea beetles have been working assiduously in the eggplant patch. You can even see a couple of the pesky critters in the picture, one is perched on the stem of the featured eggplant. I have yellow sticky traps out to catch them, so the damage is fairly minimal and the plants are not suffering in spite of all the holes in the leaves. As an organic gardener, my choices for pest control are limited (which is why I love wasps so much). If I wanted to, I could go out every day and lift row cover away and pollinate the eggplants by hand, and keep the flea beetles away completely. I’m a little too lazy for that, so I compromise.
Right across the path from the tomatoes and eggplants is the bed with peppers and melons. We have already harvested poblanos and corno di toro peppers. The poblanos have been roasted, peeled and stuffed with cheese, then frozen for future reference as chile rellenos. The sweet peppers were dehydrated. There are lots more out there coming along. There are melons growing out there too.
Just inside the gate is the bed with carrots and chard. You can see it is doing well. This year I am growing Kuroda carrots and Bright Lights chard. I really like the chard variety, it does well and I think it is gorgeous in the bed. I can’t help but think about all those wonderful beta carotenes I am getting when I eat it, too.
Right next door to this bed is the bed with my broccoli, salad greens and the cucumber patch. The broccoli is about done and I am probably going to remove it soon, as it is a vector for the cabbage looper moths. As you can see, the cucumbers are empire builders, on their way to take over the beans.
There are lots of cucumbers coming along in there. We planted Orient express, Lemon cucumbers, and Parisian pickling cucumbers. For the life of me, the only one I can find is the pickling variety. You can pick it when the little cukes are 2 or 3 inches long and make sweet gherkins, or you can let them get bigger and slice them. I found a couple of lurkers the other day that were six inches long and they were still sweet and tasty.
The cucumber bed is the only bed that does not have drip irrigation installed. I water it by hand. The rest of the garden is very easy to water. This is a view of the bean bed.
The type of drip irrigation being used here is a soaker hose that is perforated. If you place it along a row, it will irrigate row crops very nicely. If you place it 9″ apart in a bed, it will water the whole bed. The beans in the foreground are Black turtle beans, a variety that makes wonderful soups, or just plain pots of beans. We were amazed to discover just how much more tasty a fresh dried bean is than one that has been stored for who knows how long before you buy it in the store. Plus, these are organically grown.
The carrots corn, squash, and onions are also watered using this style of drip irrigation. The rest of the garden is irrigated using individual emitters for each plant. In addition to helping control weeds, this keeps all water off the foliage of the plants and helps control fungal infestation. And there is no water wasted to evaporation.
We buy these supplies from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply. We really like this vendor. Their prices are good, their customer support is outstanding, and they are a source for organic seeds as well as irrigation supplies. We have had very good luck with the irrigation supplies we have bought from them. It performs as advertised, and in addition to being reusable and UV resistant, the plastic is recyclable. So far, we have used the drip emitters and their hose for three seasons and they show no signs of wearing out. This is the first year we have used this variety of soaker hose. It performs much better than the recycled tire stuff we were getting from the local big box stores here. Sure, it’s cheap. But the pores become clogged with hard water deposits very quickly, and it has to be replaced almost every season. In the long run, this other stuff lasts better, performs better, and winds up being less expensive even though the initial cost is a little more.
Now, I really must get to work. In addition to hanging up laundry (the price of a booming massage business is lots of laundry!), I need to move the hoses and water the onions and asparagus.
Have a nice day!