25 March, 2009

A Walk Through Our Garden

Some days you wake up with thousands of words just itching to spill from your fingertips, and then there are days like today. So how about a tour of what's sowin' and growin' on the Suburban Plot, instead?

Our poor, poor sisters. Some may remember the Three Sisters experiment. Well, two weeks of 45c+ temperatures sent two of our sisters running for colder climes, leaving only the pumpkin behind. Our manic rescue-watering seemed to not only save the pumpkin, but send it on a mad growth spree! Sadly, we got only a few handfuls of green beans, and no corn.

Flying in the face of all expectations, the cauliflower and cabbages have flourished in the heat. No bolting, few bugs, beautiful budding head formations. They are my pride and joy! I can't wait for a winter full of cabbage puddings and fresh, steamed cauli.

This is...The Carrot. Yes, the carrot. All seemed to be going well. Rows upon rows germinated, began to fern out, and then the heatwave struck and took all but this. We have the worst luck with carrots. This was our third attempt. We're giving it one more try but really are quite doubtful.

Now that I have a good recipe for borscht, thanks to my aunt and her collection of Polish cookbooks, these beets will be put to great use! They have done famously and we're really enjoying learning new ways to prepare the red veg. Their neighbors, the leeks, confuse me a bit. I keep wondering if the stalks will thicken more, or if I should harvest now, before planting the autumn batch.

Our peppers (capsicums) have been nearly as prolific as our bumper tomato crop, which was razed just prior to this tour. I'll show off some of the tomato makings another time. We've gotten multiple kilos of peppers which we've harvested both at red and green stages. I adore both flavors, especially raw! And they make a mean red pepper jelly (recipe forthcoming).

We're slowly converting to a semi-dug raised bed system. It just seems a more efficient way to garden, for us. Firstly, we're lazy, so it should help us keep the weeds to a minimum. Secondly, it's just a lot more attractive. We're planning to plant beets, carrots, leeks, spring onions, turnips, and swedes/rutabagas in this bed in an adapted "square foot" method, in semi-clay soil that we've amended with boatloads of purchased compost. Any advice would be welcomed!

So there you have it. The Suburban Plot in all it's early-autumnal splendor. Here's hoping the crops are tasty and the winter seeds sprout strong!


Margo said...
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Margo said...

Semi clay soil eh? I feel your pain! We're the same.In fact Jerry's done a deal with a local dary farmer and is off to get 2 trailerloads of moo poo to help us beef up our beds and soil.

I think raised beds are the way to go, along with continually building soil health and structure with composted materials and/or maybe a green manure crop? We're in the process of 'up'grading our beds to make them deeper. Mostly as a cheaty-lazy way of kicking the soil into higher gear faster. Which reminds me I really should post about that!

Kelly the City Mouse said...

I wish we had local farmers! Few and far between, this close to the city. We did drive out a bit and scored some horse poo last season to help our spring planting, and we often buy rooster poo for all manner of fertlising. I'm trying Seasol this year too. We'll see!

I'd love to hear about your experiments with the raised beds! We're flying pretty blind in this whole process and you guys seem to do so well :)

Margo said...

I have found Seasol very good, and still use it a lot when we don't have enough worm wee.

Don't worry about flying blind! So are we most of the time. This year I was sure I'd get tomatoes and other things right, but no, it was another learning curve about soil management :)

I am however a big fan of raised beds. We have about .25 inch of rubbish topsoil and then it's clay clay clay. So the no dig method straight on the ground really didn't work to well for most things - especially in terms of water. I found the raised beds much more manageable, and much more successful - particularly for the root crops. I also found I could stack plants a bit closer as the beds were deeper.

Running Up That Hill said...

your garden looks amazing!, I am in S.A too and just starting the process of preparing my backyard for a big veggie patch and herb garden:)

Kelly the City Mouse said...

Margo: I really wish I could figure out what the heck they did when building our lot. The front is 100% sand, the back is a mix of rocky clay and something akin to loam. Insanity! I wish you tons of luck with your upgrded beds and can't wait to see what grows :)

Running: I just checked out your new blog. If you're into gardening (and Jane Austen, I see!!!) we should totally get together! With the Tibetan flags you put on your header I can already tell you're a groovy chica :) And thank you... It's only our third season of planting, so we're trying to get it going strong. Good luck with your new veggie patch!

MaLanie said...

I miss having a vegetable garden. Time is not on my side these days and its all I can do to keep up with the flowers. Enjoy your garden!

Kelly the City Mouse said...

MaLanie: Welcome, and thank you! I understand about time, for sure. Maybe you could get some hanging strawberries or a potted tomato? Something you could enjoy over the summer that doesn't require a lot of attention. Although, in your region, it'd be hard to beat a good fresh chili plant :)

MaLanie said...

Kelly, great idea. My daughters would love having a strawberry plant.

The soil here is a red clay. When our drought season comes the ground becomes rock hard.

I have a difficult time with one area of my yard that I have planted several bushes, evergreens and trees only to have them die.

I am trying to create a privacy screen as I have neighbors directly behind me. I have one big Lilac bush that has begun turning brown last year.

I would like to have a row of Crepe Myrtles back there. I have some in my front yard that have done very well.

I have fertilized my problem area and tried everything possible. I don't know what else can be done. Any ideas? Thanks!

Kelly the City Mouse said...

MaLanie: What a disappointment to have trees and shrubs perish! I would be so bummed. I'm bad enough when a row of seeds fails. Now, I've never had a garden in heavy clay areas, even though I grew up in red clay Virginia hehe. But I found some good links on crape myrtles that might be some help. They seem to like a bit of acid in the soil, so perhaps you could test your pH levels? I hope these links help!



Now, I'm a fan of planting edible landscape plants. I mean, if you're going to put the love and care into something, might as well be able to eat it, right? Some edible privacy plants include just about any type of fruit tree. Perhaps peach would do well as they're famous for loving clay soils. Of course, Pecan is a natural thought for anything near TX/OK.

As for edible hedges, anything from blackberries to bush plums might work.


My two biggest tips? Ask your local garden guru for help. Find a good, long-running family plant nursery and ask the manager for tips. Second thought is to find a neighbor with a hedge or treeline you admire, take them some muffins and ask what they did.

Good luck!

Jen said...

Wow, great garden! I always love to see how other city vegie growers are going.

MaLanie said...

Kelly, bummed is right! I do need to get the pH levels checked. It's on my long to do list. Thank you for the tips and I will check out those links. Thanks!

Kelly the City Mouse said...

Jen: Welcome! Thanks for the kind words. I've been enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work!

MaLanie: I can't wait to see what comes of your landscaping efforts. Keep us posted!