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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Garden Journal 2009: Crikey & Crackers

What I did wrong this year:

I could plead that the time continuum was against me the entire season. Not only did I hold a full time job with a long commute, I had just moved to this place and there were lots of major renovations to take care of. And then there was my family and friends. If it were only me, I'd have no trouble working until parts of me broke off, but I have an obligation to friends and family to at least try and curb my hermit tendencies.

That disclaimer aside, I did do some things wrong that could have been corrected had I planned it a little more carefully.

• I should have kept a journal. I used to do this years ago, especially when we were raising emu and rhea. I found those old journals recently and it was like opening up a time capsule. There were weather reports, chick reports, crop failures and bonus crop entries. I was pretty efficient back then. LOL.

In 2009, I got as far as drawing a garden map of where the veggies would go. It helped in the early days when one seedling became indistinguishable from another, but without noting variety and surprise freezes, it became useless soon after.

• I should have planned better for irrigation. We tried all sorts of things. At first I hand watered, but that's labor intensive and inefficient. It also meant I couldn't be away from home more than a couple of days during the heat of the summer.

Then I rotated an open hose from one row to the next and dumped a river of water, but that was wasteful since I couldn't stand there and wait for each furrow to fill with water.

Finally I settled on laying soaker hoses along each plant. It worked, but it was nearly impossible to weed. The first week I neglected the weeding was all it took to take over.

• I should have mulched. Sigh. I didn't have natural mulch, but I should have tried something. I was feeling too cheap to buy a ton of mulch. I paid for it by weeding endlessly, only to lose the battle early on.

• I planted too early. The freeze took all of us completely off guard. But you gardeners know how hard it is to avoid planting when you think spring has arrived.

Next year I (hope) will be more organized.

• Greg has designed an irrigation module that will come on automatically and dump water on a gravity system for a set amount of minutes. We'll have to wait until we plow up this field to get the pump in the ground and grade the garden to slope slightly. We don't know how well it'll work. Time will tell.

• I invested in a couple of notebooks and will begin my journaling in earnest.

• Compost will not be ready in time, so I will have to rely on bought nutrients.

• I plan on building a worm bed. It might be a good project while I'm waiting for the soil to warm up.

For the rest of this year, I hope to plant a modest fall garden and spend the rest of my time clearing the woods and building pens for next year's animals.


Greg and I were walking around the property and he suggested we expand the garden to approximately 30 x 40 (right now it's 20 x40).

It would mean cutting some trees and moving the greenhouse over another 25 feet, but we have the room, and the trees we'd have to cut down aren't keepers anyway. It does mean a good deal of manual labor and at least a couple of truckloads of dirt so that we can raise the expansion to the same height as the existing garden.

He's also thinking about aquaponics. We don't know if it's economically feasible yet, but it's something to consider for the future.

The ideas we bounced off each other are very exciting. It'll be interesting to see where we are this time next year.

I'm on book two of my reading list. This is a NY Times best selling author. The writing is excellent, but the characterization hovers dangerously close to the pendantic. This isn't a genre I normally read so she gets points for keeping me interested despite the obligatory tropes (which she mercifully upgraded to something more original).

The characters are a little too angsty for my tastes. But they aren't whiners or victims. That would have been a death knell for the book, in which case I probably wouldn't have finished it.

I think I should have started with the first book in the series. That might have grounded me better. It just happened that I recognized the author and title and decided to buy the book. Unlike yesterday's book, this one was worth the money.

On to book three.


Jannette Johnson said...

I did a vegetable garden this year, but I know next year's will be much better. I consider this one a 'practise garden'

Maria Zannini said...

Yes! Practice garden. Great name!

Though I'm afraid mine will be a practice garden for years to come. There's always something new to try.

Sherri said...

We're going to try a garden this year. Because of the heat I have to do two very different gardens: plant a "cool" garden in Sep and a "warm" garden in Jan. We'll see how it goes...if I can cut my food bill down I'll be happy. I'm doing raised boxes because of the sand/rock soil we have.

Finished the book...THANK YOU...and LOVED IT. When's the next one coming out?!

Maria Zannini said...

I'm so glad you liked Touch Of Fire. You made my day!

The sequel is on a short hiatus while I finish editing a different book. (...she says guiltily.)

Ref: garden
I hear you on the heat. We are finally enjoying a balmy 97 degrees today.

Ref: raised garden
I think of all the gardens we've had, the raised beds were probably the most prolific. I especially liked Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening book. His ideas are perfect for raised gardens.

Sherri said...

I'm planning to do a review of it on my blog, hopefully soon. Hubby enjoyed it too. I'm still in shock he read it. :)

Yeah, I have my boxes planned out based on the square foot and companion methods. It's always been successful for me in the past.

Maria Zannini said...

That's wonderful, Sherri. Thanks!