20 June 2013

Garden update

Every year I devise a planting plan to help with crop rotation. It usually ends up being different from my original intention, but this year it's pretty accurate because I wrote it after putting all the plants in the ground (I highly recommend this reverse-planning approach and think it might be applicable to all aspects of one's life). This is the reason why brassicas feature so heavily in it: I don't think I would have planned to have them in three separate beds, but I sowed too many (as usual) and so there they all are.

We ended up watching the end of an interesting TV programme about permaculture last night (Rebecca's Wild Farm on TVO), which showed two farms in Britain where people were producing food alongside nature rather than despite it. The gardens were gloriously, rampantly overgrown and it made me feel a bit happier about the semi-wild state of our vegetable garden, which is a long way from the country-house-kitchen-garden-neat rows of vegetables I fondly imagine it will contain when I'm thinking about it in the winter.

Here are a few snapshots of the garden I took today. These are the lettuces, carrots, fennel and (at the back) sunflowers I sowed in early May in the warmer soil of the upper vegetable garden:

The lower garden is much damper and takes a lot longer to warm up. I put the brassicas in this bed about three weeks ago and they've been slow to get going, although I have already started harvesting leaves from the Tuscan kale. There is a mulch of grass cuttings down on this bed but the weeds are starting to break through. The brassicas did really badly in the upper vegetable garden in last year's drought of a summer, so I'm hopeful they'll be better off down here.

I sowed the beans in late May, too, but the soil was obviously too cold and damp, because germination was patchy. Yesterday I filled in the gaps with more beans: it's a lot warmer now and with any luck they'll grow. I'm growing a lot more beans for drying this year: five different heirloom varieties (Hidatsa Red, Early Mohawk, Deseronto Potato, Cherokee Trail of Tears and Yellow-Eyed Bean). Two are pole beans, the others are bush types. 

The strawberries and garlic have been doing well in the upper garden, despite the damp - this part of the garden has a slope to south, so the water drains away readily. This is a problem when it's really dry, but not in the current conditions!

The picture below is a key showing the locations of these four parts of the garden.

I may have foolishly agreed to have a seed-saving group tour the garden in August, so there is an incentive there to keep the farm at least vaguely tidy over the summer.

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