Something Feral

Digging up the flower-beds.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ale and Horticulture

Three of the nine tubs of Purple Viking and Carola potatoes ("Potatoes?" Yes, potatoes.). I started with just over a pound of each, and I'm curious to see how many pounds the plants will yield with the bin-method. That, and digging up potatoes in clay soil isn't compatible with low-maintenance minimal-labor paradigm. Tipping over pots of potatoes onto a tarp, that I can handle.

The compost-bin. Next year I might build more for the potatoes, depending on how the harvest goes. These stackable frames are built from sections of 6" corral-boards from our old fence, then nailed together with scrap 2"x4" pieces (height off-set about half-way, to stabilize the next stack). Theoretically, there's no limit to the height of the bin, but I wouldn't recommend this for obvious reasons. As I'm replacing a 50'-60' section of similar fencing, I should have enough to build more than I can use for a long while.

Only the top layer is visible, but there are several layers of ash leaves, grass slippings, coffee grounds, kitchen waste, top-soil and shredded paper in the pile.

Incidentally, Starbucks will give you free bags of wet coffee-grounds on request (usually in 5lb leak-resistant bags) for your compost pile. I cleaned out the local Starbuck's bin, which yielded something in the neighborhood of 100lbs of prime worm-food.

I saw this pair of swallow-tail butterflies flying together in close proximity around the garden. Maybe it was a dog-fight, maybe they're in love. Maybe both, it's impossible to tell sometimes.

It's important to keep up with the pruning, thinning, and for those so inclined, espaliering the fruit trees. This is my plum tree, given to me by my grandfather some twenty years ago, and now it's a monster. It'll need a good pruning twice a year for a while after this harvest to control the shape, growth and yield.

This is the view from the top of the ladder.

Naturally, the first branches with ripe plums are directly in the middle of the tree at the very top; such is the perversity of the Universe.

Also, an ordinary cultivator makes a handy tool for thinning green plums and reaching wayward branches when harvesting.


El Borak said...

I switched over from wooden raised beds to concrete this year, just cinder blocks stacked 2 high, 4x8'. It's already an incredible year. Other than the rhubarb that came up and died down (not its fault, to switch I had to dig it up as these beds are twice as tall), the whole garden is going crazy. I have never had pumpkins, cukes, or watermelon like I have growing now.

In fact, it's almost too good. The tomatoes are great, so great I had to trim the heck out of them so the peppers could get some sun. The onions are fine, too. But the vining plants have taken over all the space between the beds, making it impossible to get between them to harvest.

But since I loose-stacked the cinder blocks, moving them farther apart next year is no sweat: I just pick the blocks up and re-stack them with 4' between wherever I'm going to plant pumpkins instead of 2'.

Something Feral said...

Sweet! Sounds like the cinder-blocks are absorbing enough heat to keep those plants happy. Using those had crossed my mind, but the black widows out here love to nest in them, and that's a problem I don't need. (They're out in force this year; I've killed two in the last week of unusual size.)

Increasing the spacing is a excellent idea. Nothing is quite as irritating as needing to get a wheelbarrow through the rows and discovering that the clearance is short by just inches. Plus, falling down into the bed for lack of room to maneuver is counter-productive to raising healthy plants (ask me how!).

What kind of tomatoes and peppers are you growing there?

Erik said...

As much as I dislike spiders, those would be better than Rodents Of Unusual Size (ROUS)

Triton said...

But this is the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on.

Look at the bones!

Something Feral said...

There's some Pythonesque parody waiting to happen with a little old man defending his garden from larger-than-life pests with artillery and land-mines, demolishing all but a few carrots in the process.

The neighbor near us uses some sort of "explosive noise" device to keep the deer out. Time to escalate, I suppose...

El Borak said...

What kind of tomatoes and peppers are you growing there?

Bells, jalepenos, cayennes, and tabascos for the peppers. The tomatoes are just the WalMart heavy whatever tomatoes. I'm not too particular, as I'm just making salsa out of 90% of them anyway...