Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Late Start in the Garden

Between working on the bathroom and watching it rain, we just never got the garden going this spring. But I've been working on it. This is probably going to be a boring post, so feel free to skip it, but I have found it helps to go back and see how I did things the year before when I am planning the next garden.

A few years ago we bought a tiller, and even though there is nothing as pretty as a freshly tilled garden, it is a lot, and I do mean a lot, of work. Our clay soil is hard to work when it's wet or when it's completely dry. When wet, it's like a sticky, gumbo that clogs up the tines and sticks to the bottom of shoes and has to be scraped out. When completely dry, it's hard as cement. So the perfect time to till, is somewhere in between.

I have had mixed results with the lasagna method (layer of cardboard with mulch on top) in my front flower beds and last year tried it on part of the garden after it was planted. It worked great at keeping out weeds, but little effect on grass. Best of all, it kept the soil from drying out too fast, and the soil under the cardboard was soft and crumbly.

This spring I read a few books on tilling verses no till, and I want to try the no till method on at least half the garden with the soaker hoses under the cardboard instead of on top. So last week I collected cardboard boxes, flattened them, and laid them out on top of my hoses, overlapping so there was no exposed ground for a weed to come through. Then two yards of cedar mulch spread on top of them. All this in 20-30 mph winds. But a good soaking later and they were ready to plant. All I had to do was push back the mulch and punch a hole in cardboard and soil with a bulb planter, stick a tomato in each hole, and bring the mulch back around it.

The in-laws wanted to plant tomatoes too, so we bought enough for everyone and they came out last Sunday to help us plant. I had most of the holes dug by the time they got here and thought they could put plants in holes while I dug more. But I looked up to see that father-in-law had scraped more mulch away, pulled out the cardboard, and was digging a wide circle around the hole I dug. He thought the soil needed to be worked more before planting. Eeek! All that work I had done, messed up in five minutes. I asked him not to do that but Hubby said just let him do it, so I bit my tongue. They planted the tomatoes Hubby set by the gate and then I told them that was all we had. I planted the rest the next day.

Then, Hubby tilled the other side and father-in-law picked up the rake to smooth it. I dug holes for my potatoes and when I got to the end of the row, I turned around and he had filled them all in. It's aggravating, but sad too. Whether it's Alzheimers or something else, it's taking away the person he was.

Last year I tried a fence panel trellis instead of tomato cages or stakes and it really didn't work well for me. I also had a few of those cone-shaped tomato cages but they were in fairly bad shape. This year we are making cages out of reinforcing wire. We also planted onions in a row under the tomato trellis and it was wasted space after the onions were done. This year I planted onions and garlic in my flower garden and around squash (in raised patio containers) to try to stop squash bugs.

I'm also rotating the garden to try to avoid the nematode problems we had with green beans a few years ago.

This is last year's garden:


And this is this year's garden:


Until next time, may you have blessings and rich soil,
Marti

1 comment:

Grandma K said...

All I can say is "Wow!" And I thought I was planting crazy when I planted two "topsy turvies" with high hopes.