Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fall garden and cover crops

After the Master Gardener talk on Fall and Winter Gardening by Jen Aron of Peaceful Gardens I did a bit of a harvest and clear out of the summer garden to make some room.

I lightly prepped the soil, added a little organic matter and some seeds.

For the fall garden, I planted chard and lettuce. As a cover crop I planted crimson clover and some chicken vetch.

Watered that in and covered with burlap and mulch to keep the water in.

Then started watering twice a day to keep moist.

I was shocked, yes shocked, to see sprouts just three days later!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Edible Forest Gardens: Vol 2. Chapter 6 -- Garden Establishment

Construction Sequence:

  • Broad scale site prep. -- grading, drainage, irrigation, tilling, cover-crops, clearing
  • Staking out -- paths, beds, key plant location
  • Bed-by-bed site prep. -- double digging, amending
  • Planting woody plants
  • Sheet mulch
  • Staking out patches
  • Plant herbs
  • Aftercare -- watering, weeding
The discussion on planting reminded me that I need to take some care with managing soil horizons as I build mounds and swales. Need to keep topsoil above subsoil. 

Edible Forest Gardens: Vol 1. Chapter 5 -- Underground Economy

On to chapter 5 of Edible Forest Gardens: Structures of the Underground Economy.

Random notes:
  • Manually deepening shallow roots before planting offers major benefits.
  • Rhizomes are botanically stems. Their leaves are adapted into defensive scales.
  • Check out Wild Roots, by Douglas Elliott.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Garden update

I harvested some salad greens from the garden tonight. The garden has been enjoying the warm weather. I have finally had to start regular watering. Now I need to figure out when to harvest the fennel.
Plants were purchased at the Incredible Edibles Plant Sale and were planted in May.
The italian parsley seems particularly happy and the squash has some nice large dark green leaves. The basil was not doing well, so I picked up another basil plant from Trader Joe's.

Edible Forest Gardens: Vol 2. Chapter 5 -- Site Preparation

After resuming my reading in Edible Forest Gardens, I picked out some techniques that seem promising for site preparation: 
  • Rock dust
  • Cover Crops
  • Mulch -- 1/2 - 4 inches. Not next to woody trunks. 
  • Torching weeds
  • Infiltration Swales
  • Double Digging
  • Radial Trenching -- sort of like double digging for trees (figure 5.10, p. 361)
  • Mounds -- but need to consider the impact of soil texture transition
I found the last line of the chapter to be telling: 
One thing is true, though. If you skip site preparation, you are likely to regret it for a long time to come.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Finishing Front

At Naomi's Organic Farm Supply I picked up some worm compost and steer manure to top-dress my garden.
Then I spread around some flakes from a compressed straw bale and proceeded to spread the straw out as a mulch.
With a gentle spray setting, I wetted down the straw.
I thought I was going to be clever and dress up the straw with some hazelnut shells. Turns out I either need a lot more shells or this is only going to be an accent. I'm going to give it some time to decide if the look is going to work for me. I had thought about using Douglas Fir Bark Dust, but this would lead to a more fugally dominated soil as it breaks down. For annual plants, we want bacterially dominated soils.
And I couldn't resist picking up some more plants: flowers and herbs to plant on the slopes

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Incredible Edibles Plant Sale 2012

Happy volunteers selling raffle tickets at the Incredible Edibles Plant Sale on May 5, 2012. They did a nice job dressing up the jars for the raffle tickets -- one jar for each prize.
A couple volunteers ready to take your questions at the help table.
Shopping for plants during the sale with a veteran Master Gardener on hand to field questions.
 A young gardener in training?
 My wife helped out on the team of volunteers checking people out once they picked their plants.
 Beyond the sale proper, we had places to get food, hang out, shop for garden related stuff ....
... including some fun music from a ukulele band.  For me this did a lot to give the day a nice festive feel.
Near the end of the day we had been nearly wiped out of plant. At some point we got everything down to one row of tables. At least that meant we didn't have a lot of plants left over to find homes for at the end of the day.

Set up for the Incredible Edibles Plant Sale

 I dropped in on a group of hard working volunteers setting up for the Incredible Edibles Plant Sale, May 5, 2012. It was a cold wet spring day which made for an amusing juxtaposition of watering the plants in the rain.
 Peeking in through the plants to see what people work working at.

Oops, John caught me peeking...

Lots of plants set up on racks ready for pick-up. Many people pre-ordered plants so the volunteers pulled the plants and grouped them for each order.
 There were tables full of plant ready for the sale the next day.
 Our chapter president, Claudia, telling an animated story.

 It was nice to have so many canopies. This day for the rain, the next for the sun.
And we are about ready to begin...

Planting Veggies

Now that I had a nice mound of dirt in the front yard, today was the day to plant! I am going for something between row planting and square foot gardening. We'll see how this turns out.

I planted onions on top, tomatoes around the back, fennel around the front. And greens, spinach, lettuce, and a mesclun mix, on the lower slope.

In particular I was a little unsure of where to put the plants relative to the slopes, troughs, and ridges along the side of the mound. So I did a little of each and will try to pay attention to what does best.

I planted a few herbs on the other mound between the path and the driveway. This will get a little less frequent water and seemed like a better place for some herbs: basil and parsley. I also planted a zucchini squash as much as a ground cover as for the food.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Vegetable Garden 2012

Today was the day to prep the front yard vegetable garden bed. I had a small bag of worm compost and some glacial rock dust to use for amendments. I probably should have used more compost, but that was what I had on hand. I also had a pile of semi-composted leaves that I worked in to the deep part of the soil to improve water retention and provide some organic matter in time. 

The basic plan was to double dig, except I was working with a mound so I had a little bit of slope to contend with. Also the area wasn't rectangular but was more of a lens shape. So I had to play it by ear somewhat.
I like the long handled spade I got at Red Pig Tools specifically for this kind of work. 
Still the basic principle was:
* Cover the whole area with the amendments.
* Remove a foot or so of dirt in a strip about the width of the spade. * Put in some leaves.
* Work them in a little.
* Repeat. 
Once I was done with the digging, I broke up the biggest of the clods and raked the dirt into a nice mound. Then I flattened the top, and created two tiers on the way down. I tried to make the tiers level with a little bit of a lip so water would fill the whole ditch and percolate in without overtopping the levies. These are basically mini-swales

Next up: Planting vegetables!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Incredible Edibles Plant Sale -- May 5

This weekend, on May 5, the Multnomah County Master Gardeners are putting on an Incredible Edibles Plant Sale,10am to 3pm, on the grounds of All Saints School, 601 NE Cesar E. Chavez Blvd (formerly NE 39th Avenue).