Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Our sixth season gardening

It's early July, and we are well in to the sixth season of gardening here on our little farm. We've learned a lot, gotten better at it, but still have a long way to go. While we are planting a large garden that provides nearly all our veggie needs, its productivity and long term health still need improving. Just a look at our neighbors smaller, but lush and very well done garden reminds us that we are still on a journey.

Things that we've noticed so far this year:

We've been putting composted cow manure in the rows for three years now, and each year it seems the soil tilth is better, and the plants are more vigorous. We get some weed seed along with the nutrients, but they are mostly broadleaf weeds that pull or hoe very easily as long as we get them young.

By far our best year yet for peas. Party of it is better soil tillage, better soil because of the manure, better plant spacing, and more careful watering, but I still wonder if there is some other unnoticed variable of spring weather patterns that the pleas  just like this year.

Our first year for Colorado potato beetles. They finally found us. We have about 120 linear feet ( 36m) of potatoes, and about half have shown infestation. We are hand picking every other day or so, and so far the damage is not too bad.

Our brassicas show little cabbage moth damage so far, but will keep monitoring, as we had them last year, and there is still a ways to go. We've been harvesting kale and collards leaves, but the broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts still are at risk.

Much less vole and rabbit damage this year- all the upgrades to the fencing has paid off, and we did not try sweet potatoes this year after last year's vole carnage. Might try them again next year, but need to come up with a trick to keep the voles at bay.

Have been lousy at taking photos, but here is a shot of our yard- we stopped mowing when the birds foot trefoil came on. Since we have two beehives now, we want plenty of food for them.


  1. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for sharing. Yeah, it is a long journey of learning and understanding. I have lots of trouble with the cabbage moths over the summer and have more or less given up on brassicas during that time. They do much better in winter here. Peas really appreciate the additional watering. Out of curiosity what sort of watering arrangements do you have for your peas? My lot need at least 10 minutes per day during summer. The herbage looks great too. Are you getting the chance to check out what the bees are harvesting?

    It snowed here last night and again into this morning - heavier than I have seen here for many long years. I hope the bees here are OK? It is meant to be sunny over the next few days so I'll see if they emerge into the cold winter sunlight. Dunno.

    The potatoes are worth the efforts. Please keep your voles, they sound fearsome.



  2. Hey Chris, to answer your question on water, as we've discussed, we are blessed with much greater rainfall than you annually, but I sure wish it fell more evenly! When seeds are germinating, we keep the soil moist, and depending on weather, might water every other day. Once plants are up, we water less often, and of course let rain do as much of the work as possible. Right now, we are simply walking down each row with the garden hose, spraying each plant. We plant peas and other cool loving plants as soon as we can in spring, so peas are all well along by the time the real heat rolls around. Winter is just too cold for any garden vegetables.

    I am collecting some of my rainwater, and have set up drip for some of our fruit trees, but need to add more storage, and select a system for the garden, then we might start drip irrigating some of the veggies.

    Voles? I'll keep them if the alternative was wombats! They do sound like a real challenge.

    thanks for stopping by.