MUCH OF OUR GARDEN CONTINUES TO PUNCH THROUGH THE HEAT!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 12-08-2012

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GARDEN LOOKING SOUTH

Notice new planting of blue lake bush beans center left

 

GARDEN UPDATE

We are mulching the area between our raised beds in the main garden area to control the crabgrass and the little mimosa type weed.  It results in a very tidy garden.  The heat continues to be our primary concern as it has shortened the length that some plants grow.  We are finding that the beans (all types) are doing well as are the many varieties of peppers and okra.  Most other crops are slowing down or just giving it up.  My biggest disappointment is  the failure of our nine artichoke plants.  They were doing great before the 100 degree heat hit us but even with daily watering, they slowly died back.  One of our subscribers sent me a photograph of her artichoke plants (in bloom) and apparently thriving.  She lives in artichoke heaven (California) so I guess the conditions are better there for success but I am sure we can grow them here.  We just have to learn how.  Any help with suggestions would be appreciated.

The tomatoes have stopped blooming and the fruit is no longer getting large which indicates that the spring plantings are finished.  Tomatoes are commercially grown here in Beaufort for the Northern markets but by mid June the packing shed are closed and the fields plowed.  It is possible to plant a fall crop of tomatoes as out winters are mild and short.  I am cutting the new shoots from several of our plants and will attempt to root them for the fall planting later this month.  The egg plants, a close relative to tomatoes, are also slowing down and the egg plants are getting smaller but they are still good.  Sweet potatoes are doing well in the heat and will provide a small but valued harvest.  We only plant a dozen plants which we should consider increasing as the plants do well in our garden.

YAROW

YARROW from the Publix Grocery Store

 

Last year I purchased several Yarrow roots from Publix and planted them.  I don’t know how to prepare them for the table but we can sure grow them.  It is the same with the Fennel (the herb).  We can grow beautiful blooming plants that produce abundant licorice scented seeds and swollen bases but when harvested and an attempt is made to use them in the kitchen – we learn that we should have left them in the garden for the swallowtail butterfly larva.

Our seasoned subscriber may remember that we rooted over 40  Brown Turkey figs so that we could grow a fig hedge where we would prune it low and net it so as to get a good fig harvest (beat the birds and raccoons to them).  We only used 32 of the rootings in the hedges.  The remainder were left in the garden rooting bed.  The plants inserted into the hedge planting have struggled  this summer as the extended drought and heat have not been conducive to rapid growth.  We have hand watered then at least every other day but it has not been enough.  However, the smaller rootings that remained in the garden proper were watered every day as we soaked the garden.  They are 5  feet tall today and I will replace the weaker plants in the hedge with them this winter.

Extra Fig rootings

Extra Fig rootings

 

This brings us to the conclusion that hand watering does not do the same job as a routine (automatic) watering system even when we are diligent in our attempts to keep things moist.  The solution is that we have ordered the many parts of a drip irrigation system that we will install this winter.  It will water the entire garden – all the beds inside the fenced area and the satellite beds around the outer garden.  That will solve any inconsistencies in our watering schedule.  It will involve burying the feeder tubes from one bed to another as well as placing emitters or watering tubes inside each raised bed.  This would create a problem if we were to continue the double digging of the raised beds but despite the success we experienced this year using this technique, we have found a better way.

 

There has been a growing concept used by many commercial farmers to not plow their fields and destroy the soil structure.  They just plant through last years stubble.  I have noticed the technique used throughout the South Carolina countryside.  The farmer does however use chemical herbicides to control the weeds as well as chemical fertilizers.   He still has a long way to go to produce the healthy food an organic garden can provide.  We plan to use our mulches to control the weeds and moisture levels along with our new drip irrigation system.   Our new secret to a better garden than we have had to date is the incorporation of the lowly earthworm into our beds in substantial numbers.  After reading a rather long book on the importance of earthworms not only to good gardening but to human cultural development (no kidding – and I believe it), I am a convert.  Have you ever wondered why everything seems to get buried over time.  Ancient ruins, the edge of paved roads, those hard to find Indian arrowheads are all sinking because of the earthworm activity.  I am going to try to stick with the application of this activity to our garden and not get carried away.  Earthworms, especially the European red wiggler (Eisenia fetida), an epigeic (surface dwelling) species is a fantastic soil biologist.  It provides aeration of the garden soil, distribution of the nutrients, consumption of the organic mater and production of the riches soils known within a pH in which most plants thrive.   When incorporated inside a raised garden bed, the end result is a perfect balance within the soil where our garden grows.  And to really impress us,  they do this continuously insuring that our soils are always ready for whatever we decide to plant into them.  It is an easy process to inoculate our garden with this wonderful animal.  We are purchasing 2000 red wigglers (the same worm your fish with) from Jim’s Worm Farm in Pennsylvania.  When they arrive (tomorrow), I will place half of them in a worm bin where they will rapidly begin to multiply into many tens of thousands of worms.  The other half will be divided into a new compost bed and 100 or so placed in each raised bed.  All will start reproducing (I don’t have to worry about any animal husbandry here because a worm is both male and female and will produce an egg every two to three days which contains 7 to 20 new worms. you can do the math here but we should have all the worms we need very quickly.  In the worst case scenario, we will have too many.  Since I mentioned math – a single worm will produce 2 oz of perfect soil a year (a worm lives up to 6 years).  Our garden will have over 200,000 worms in it next year.  That works out to 250 pounds of enriched soil every year generated from the decomposing mulch and plant material as well as the micro plowing and distribution of nutrients (and that doesn’t even touch on the removal of many harmful fungi and virus pest).   I can’t help myself.  I warn you that I was a convert.

 

new cucumbers

New planting of Cucumbers.

 

BEES

What a joy our honey bees are to me.  We have two strong hives (they can both go through a quart jar of sugar syrup in a day).  They are flying into our garden, around my flower beds, monopolizing my hummingbird feeders, finding food sources within the forest and generally thriving.  I have placed a Ross super above the double brood boxes and expect to start harvesting 32-4 inch round sections of comb honey any day now.  I used to keep 50 hives when I was in my 30s so this is really reminiscent of my youth.

 

ABSENT GARDENERS

Chris has returned from Tennessee only to be getting ready to go North again for a couple months.  Davis and Kathy have returned from their 6 week French vacation and will be here for the fall garden and are excited as they remember the wonderful produce we grew last fall.  Dragana and Scott are ready to continue getting the garden ready for the Fall planting.  I have a knee replacement surgery planned for September 17th so I will be here but not in the garden for most of October.

Garden of Eden Pole Bean

Second planting of the Garden of Eden Pole Bean.

 

Gordon

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