In the Garden :: April 27

2015 Apr 27 In the Garden

Things are coming along pretty nicely these days.

Our number one biggest success has been the garlic! I planted it in October and basically crossed my fingers. I was surprised not to find any scapes this spring, but the leaves seem pretty tall and full. Out of curiosity I went ahead and pulled “one,” but I actually had 3 little scallions. How did three grow instead of one?

The garlic!

The garlic!

The asparagus seemed to take forever to start growing but we harvested our first handful this week! A friend suggested uncovering the bed, that the straw might be keeping the ground too cool. I am so paranoid about weeds that I just couldn’t imagine taking it off, so in its own perfect timing, the asparagus came up anyway.

Asparagus grows at Owl Moon Farm!

Asparagus grows at Owl Moon Farm!

And now for our biggest failure in the garden. At least, so far. I know using a cover crop is a critical part of creating organic matter in the garden. I searched and read and decided to use Winter Rye; it seemed to be highly recommended. Problem is, what they don’t tell you, is that getting rid of Winter Rye in the spring is next to impossible, at least without mechanical assistance. It just doesn’t die. I’ve spoken with a friend, and found on a few “how to get rid of winter rye” discussion boards, that Winter-killed Oats would have been a better choice, sooooooo… At least I know what I’m going to do next year.

To get rid of the grass in my raised beds I tried cutting it back. I cut the beds with loppers. A few times. Turns out, Winter Rye is crazy resilient and grew back. With gusto.

After being cut. Twice.

After being cut. Twice.

I tried to cut it super short but only had really “dead-looking” grass after I left a heap of it on the bed. It seemed to kill the grass below it pretty effectively.

After being cut back and left to rot.

After being cut back and left to rot.

Dead spot.

Dead spot.

So a friend recommended digging and turning the soil to kill the roots of the grass. It was annoying, but not terrible. Here’s the bed above after being turned:

After turning today.

After turning today.

And here’s a different bed that was turned last week:

Turned a week ago.

Turned a week ago.

Takeaway: DON’T use Winter Rye in a raised bed, especially if you’re hoping to grow something early in the season without using mechanical tillage. I’ll be using oats next fall and will keep you posted.

in the garden :: September 28

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Panoramic | I’m standing in the southeast corner of the garden. House is due north.

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From southeast corner looking west-ish.

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From southeast corner looking north.

This is the first weekend we spent any significant time in the garden, so things were looking pretty sad! We’ve been eating gobs and gobs of Sungold Cherry {our all-time family favorite}, slicers and paste tomatoes, plus raspberries, but we’ve been kind of ignoring everything else… So, we had Betty over on Saturday to show us around and help identify weeds/plants. Turns out what I thought was dill is actually fennel, and what I was hoping was some kind of cover crop is really weeds… So I yanked out everything that doesn’t belong, and put together a plan for the winter.

I pulled about half of the basil plants today – they’d gotten so overgrown our last meal with the stuff was just awful.. There seems to be some new growth on a few of the plants, though, so I just hacked them back to see if anything tender comes up. The beans in the last picture are an unidentified white/golden wax bean. They were beyond edible when we moved in, so I’m leaving them there to see if we can harvest seed for next year. The chard has been here all along and even though it’s only rained 3{?} times since we moved in six weeks go, seems to be going strong. I’m hoping to eat up the big leaves this week and maybe throw some kind of blanket on it when the frost comes; just to see what happens. There are two prolific and healthy green pepper plants, but we just aren’t green pepper eaters, so they’re sitting there, looking beautiful. I really should take them to the farmers market or something! Next year we’ll plant some sweet orange peppers…yum… I hacked back the asparagus because it was beginning to turn  yellow, but then felt some anxiety that I had acted too soon. In add to my guilt, Betty said she usually waits till very early spring/late winter to cut it back…The video I found said to cut it in the fall and then cover with 2″ compost and straw, so we’re heading into town tomorrow to pick some up from the co-op. It’s a 30-foot bed of 4-year-old asparagus and it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to buy this place – I have to keep it alive!

I am hoping to use a raised bed hoop house over one bed {the one with black PVC pipe} and plant lettuce, spinach and kale inside. I have Napoli Carrots {Eliot Coleman’s favorite for winter growing} on the way. I ordered garlic sets {our playroom smells SO good} and onion sets to put in when the weather really cools off. Then I’ll broadcast some kind of cover crop over the remaining beds and keep my fingers crossed till spring comes. If we’re very very lucky we’ll have fresh food through the winter! If not, well…. c’est la vie! {OvO}